Washington (CNN) Special counsel Robert Mueller has charged former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn with “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador.
(Nytimes) Investigators working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, recently asked the White House for documents related to former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and have questioned witnesses about whether he was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign, according to people close to the investigation.
Though not a formal subpoena, the document request is the first known instance of Mr. Mueller’s team asking the White House to hand over records.
In interviews with potential witnesses in recent weeks, prosecutors and F.B.I. agents have spent hours poring over the details of Mr. Flynn’s business dealings with a Turkish-American businessman who worked last year with Mr. Flynn and his consulting business, the Flynn Intel Group.
The company was paid $530,000 to run a campaign to discredit an opponent of the Turkish government who has been accused of orchestrating last year’s failed coup in the country.
Investigators want to know if the Turkish government was behind those payments — and if the Flynn Intel Group made kickbacks to the businessman, Ekim Alptekin, for helping conceal the source of the money.
By Pepe Escobar
The tawdry Michael Flynn soap opera boils down to the CIA hemorrhaging leaks to the company town newspaper, leading to the desired endgame: a resounding victory for hardcore neocon/neoliberalcon US Deep State factions in one particular battle. But the war is not over; in fact it’s just beginning.
Even before Flynn’s fall, Russian analysts had been avidly discussing whether President Trump is the new Viktor Yanukovych — who failed to stop a color revolution at his doorstep. The Made in USA color revolution by the axis of Deep State neocons, Democratic neoliberalcons and corporate media will be pursued, relentlessly, 24/7. But more than Yanukovych, Trump might actually be remixing Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping: “crossing the river while feeling the stones”. Rather, crossing the swamp while feeling the crocs.
Flynn out may be interpreted as a Trump tactical retreat. After all Flynn may be back — in the shade, much as Roger Stone. If current deputy national security advisor K T McFarland gets the top job – which is what powerful Trump backers are aiming at – the shadowplay Kissinger balance of power, in its 21st century remix, is even strengthened; after all McFarland is a Kissinger asset.
This call won’t self-destruct in five seconds
Flynn worked with Special Forces; was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); handled highly classified top secret information 24/7. He obviously knew all his conversations on an open, unsecure line were monitored. So he had to have morphed into a compound incarnation of the Three Stooges had he positioned himself to be blackmailed by Moscow.
What Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak certainly discussed was cooperation in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, and what Moscow might expect in return: the lifting of sanctions. US corporate media didn’t even flinch when US intel admitted they have a transcript of the multiple phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak. So why not release them? Imagine the inter-galactic scandal if these calls were about Russian intel monitoring the US ambassador in Moscow.
No one paid attention to the two key passages conveniently buried in the middle of this US corporate media story. 1) “The intelligence official said there had been no finding inside the government that Flynn did anything illegal.” 2) “…the situation became unsustainable – not because of any issue of being compromised by Russia – but because he [Flynn] has lied to the president and the vice president.”
Recap: nothing illegal; and Flynn not compromised by Russia. The “crime” – according to Deep State factions: talking to a Russian diplomat.
Vice-President Mike Pence is a key piece in the puzzle; after all his major role is as insider guarantor – at the heart of the Trump administration — of neocon Deep State interests. The CIA did leak. The CIA most certainly has been spying on all Trump operatives. Flynn though fell on his own sword. Classic hubris; his fatal mistake was to strategize by himself – even before he became national security advisor. “Mad Dog” Mattis, T. Rex Tillerson – both, by the way, very close to Kissinger — and most of all Pence did not like it one bit once they were informed.
A “man of very limited abilities”
Flynn was already compromised by his embarrassingly misinformed book co-written with neocon Michael Ledeen, as well as his juvenile Iranophobia. At the same time, Flynn was the point man to what would have been a real game-changer; to place the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff under White House control.
A highly informed US source I previously called “X”, who detailed to Sputnik how the Trump presidency will play out, is adamant “this decision makes Trump look independent. It is all going according to script.”
“X” stresses how “the NSA can penetrate any telephone system in the world that is not secure. Flynn was a man of very limited abilities who talked too much. You never hear from the real powers in intelligence nor do you know their names. You can see that in Flynn’s approach to Iran. He was disrupting a peace deal in the Middle East relating to Russia, Iran and Turkey in Syria. So he had to go.”
“X” adds, “the Russians are not stupid to talk among themselves on unsecured lines, they assumed that Flynn controlled his own lines. Flynn was removed not because of his Russian calls but for other reasons, some of which have to do with Iran and the Middle East. He was a loose cannon even from the intelligence perspective. This is a case of misdirection away from the true cause.”
In direct opposition to “X”, an analytical strand now rules there’s blood on the tracks; the hyenas are circling; a vulnerable Trump has lost his mojo; and he also lost his foreign policy. Not yet.
In the Grand Chessboard, what Flynn’s fall spells out is just a pawn out of the game because the King would not protect him. We will only know for sure “draining the swamp” – the foreign policy section – is doomed if neocons and neoliberalcons continue to run riot; if neoliberalcons are not fully exposed in their complicity in the rise of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; and if the much vaunted possibility of a détente with Russia flounders for good.
What’s certain is that the fratricide war between the Trump administration and the most powerful Deep State factions will be beyond vicious. Team Trump only stands a chance if they are able to weaponize allies from within the Deep State. As it stands, concerning the Kissinger grand design of trying to break the Eurasian “threat” to the unipolar moment, Iran is momentarily relieved; Russia harbors no illusions; and China knows for sure that the China-Russia strategic partnership will become even stronger. Advantage swamp.
An intelligence consulting firm founded by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s top military adviser, was recently hired as a lobbyist by an obscure Dutch company with ties to Turkey’s government and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The revelation of that new lobbying contract, which has not been previously reported, raises several questions given that Trump is said to be considering Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), to take over as either Secretary of Defense or National Security Advisor.
It also raises questions about disclosure.
Flynn wrote an op-ed for The Hill on Tuesday, just before Trump’s stunning upset of Hillary Clinton, in which he heaped praise on Erdogan and called on the next president, whoever that would be, to accede his request to extradite the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen back to Turkey.
“Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network,” Flynn wrote in the op-ed, in which he called Gulen a “shady Islamic mullah” and “radical Islamist.”
Erdogan has accused Gülen, who has lived in exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, of masterminding a violent coup in Turkey in July. Gülen has denied doing so, but Erdogan has pressured President Obama to review evidence that the 76-year-old imam was behind the uprising, which left nearly 300 soldiers and civilians dead.
“From Turkey’s point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey’s Osama bin Laden,” Flynn asserted.
The piece does not include a disclosure that Flynn Intel Group, the consulting firm that Flynn founded in Oct. 2014, just after leaving DIA, was recently hired to lobby Congress by a Dutch company called Inovo BV that was founded by a Turkish businessman who holds a top position on Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board.
A review of Dutch records shows that the company was founded by Ekim Alptekin, an ally of Erdogan’s who is director of the Turkey-U.S. Business Council, a non-profit arm of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board. Members of the Foreign Economic Relations Board are chosen by Turkey’s general assembly and its minister of economy. In the role, Alptekin helped coordinate Erdogan’s visit to the U.S. earlier this year.
A lobbying disclosure report filed with Congress lists Inovo BV’s address but not the name of anyone affiliated with the company. There is also little information about the firm online. But The Daily Caller tracked down Dutch business registration records which show Alptekin founded the company in 2005. The financial consulting firm, which Alptekin does not acknowledge on his bio, also has an affiliate, Inovo Turkije.
The lobbying disclosure does not say how much Inovo BV is paying Flynn’s firm. It lists former congressional aide Robert Kelley as the lobbyist who is handling the contract and says that he is working on “organizational consulting” for Inovo BV.
Flynn’s recent op-ed appears to be at odds with some of his past comments about Turkey and its role in the war against ISIS. In the op-ed he refers to the Islamic nation, which is a member of NATO, is “vital to U.S. interests” and is the U.S.’s “strongest ally” against ISIS.
But he told journalist Seymour Hersh for an article published earlier this year that Turkey was doing little to stop foreign fighters and weapons from crossing the border into Syria.
“We understood ISIS’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria,” Flynn told Hersh for the article.
It is unclear whether the Trump administration will side with Erdogan on the Gülen issue. The men were allies until recent years, when some of Gülen’s followers, called Gülenists, opened corruption investigations of some of Erdogan’s government allies.
Erdogan has since then assailed Gülen and his network, which he refers to as a “parallel government” because Gülen’s followers are scattered throughout Turkey’s judiciary, police force and military.
The tension peaked in July when a group of mid-level Turkish military officials attempted to overthrow the government in a battle that hit several of Turkey’s major cities, including Ankara, the capital, and Istanbul.
Erdogan immediately blamed Gülen. And though the mysterious cleric denied any involvement, Erdogan began to pressure the U.S. to return him back to his homeland to face charges pending against him. While the State Department has said it is reviewing evidence presented against Gülen, the Obama administration has appeared less than eager to extradite him.
In a statement to TheDC, Gülen’s lawyers said they hoped that Flynn’s op-ed is not indicative of the Trump administration’s position towards the cleric.
“We hope that Mr. Flynn’s op-ed on Mr. Gülen and Turkish-American relations, published before the results of the election were known, is not a statement of policy for President-Elect Trump,” Gülen’s legal team at the Washington D.C. firm Steptoe & Johnson told TheDC.
They also accused Erdogan’s regime of “propagating false information” about Gülen.
Turkish diplomatic sources tell TheDC that they “are pleased” that one of Trump’s top advisers “is aware of the danger that Fetullah Gulen and his terrorist organisation” pose to Turkey.
“Our main expectation is still that Fetullah Gülen is extradited to Turkey as soon as possible,” said a source with the Turkish embassy.
Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, criticized Flynn’s op-ed in a post at the think tank’s website on Thursday.
“Flynn gets Erdogan wrong, whitewashes recent Turkish behavior, fails the logic test, and proposes a policy prescription that would make matters worse,” argues Rubin.
He asserted that “regardless of what Erdogan says publicly,” intelligence exists which shows that Erdogan supports ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates operating inside Syria.
“That makes Turkey a source of instability in the region, not its remedy,” Rubin writes, also noting that Erdogan has embraced leaders of the terrorist group Hamas.
“Should Gülen he be extradited? If Turkey can provide proof of his involvement in the events of July 15, then yes,” Rubin says. “But almost four months after the coup, Turkish authorities have failed to provide the United States with anything other than accusations and demands.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Nor did Flynn Intel Group.
As for Alptekin, he appears to be on board the Trump train.
In an interview with CNN’s Turkish franchise, he said that he believes Trump will be good for U.S.-Turkish business relations. He also referred to Flynn’s op-ed.
And on Twitter, Alptekin is heavily critical of Gülen. In one tweet, he compared the cleric to bin Laden, similar to Flynn’s rhetoric in his op-ed. In other tweets, Alptekin has praised Trump. In September, he wrote that a Trump presidency will be a boon to U.S.-Turkey relations. And in a post from the day after Trump’s election shows him standing next to a cardboard cutout of the president-elect.