Trump hired Flynn despite knowing he was under investigation
It’s hard to feel sorry for the imploding Trump administration, especially when you hear how much its wounds are self-inflicted. Take limestone action figure Michael Flynn, the ousted national security adviser under investigation by the FBI, whom Trump hired against his predecessor’s advice, and who held his job for weeks after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned he was compromised by Russia. The Trump transition team ignored another red flag too, according to The New York Times, Flynn’s own admission that he was under federal investigation.
Flynn first disclosed this fun fact, which always looks great on a résumé, on January 4 to Donald McGahn, the transition team’s chief lawyer and current White House counsel. The transition’s legal team and Flynn’s attorney discussed the ongoing investigation again two days later. Apparently, nobody thought the Justice Department’s interest in Flynn’s secret lobbying contracts with Turkish government-linked entities was cause for alarm. Maybe they thought Flynn was just joking?
The federal investigation into Flynn has escalated in recent weeks, with the Justice Department subpoenaing his financial records to clarify the nature and extent of his consulting work on behalf of foreign governments. After he was fired, Flynn admitted his now-defunct company was paid $530,000 by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin for lobbying that “principally benefited” the Turkish government, despite never registering in the U.S. as a foreign agent.
Another report Wednesday detailed the political impact of Flynn’s financial relationship with Turkey. According to McClatchy, 10 days before inauguration, Flynn ordered President Obama’s outgoing National Security Adviser Susan Rice to hold off on a months-gestating plan to arm Kurdish rebels in northern Syria to retake Raqqa, which ISIS claims as its capital. Trump eventually signed off on the mission, but only after Flynn was fired. Turkey has long opposed U.S. partnership with Kurdish forces.
Amid separate charges that Flynn suspiciously, and perhaps illegally, met with Russian officials during Trump’s campaign, some on Capitol Hall are starting to view his Turkey ties with the most concern. Via McClatchy:
Now members of Congress, musing about the tangle of legal difficulties Flynn faces, cite that exchange with Rice as perhaps the most serious: acting on behalf of a foreign nation – from which he had received considerable cash – when making a military decision. Some members of Congress, in private conversations, have even used the word “treason” to describe Flynn’s intervention, though experts doubt that his actions qualify.
Nothing more admirable than an Islamophobic war hawk who sells out his country’s foreign policy for a quick check. No wonder Trump misses Flynn so much.