In an attempt to keep himself out of even more hot water, disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn just took his lawyer’s advice and belatedly registered as a foreign agent for lobbying work he did that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey” according to the paperwork he filed. Flynn was paid $530,000 last August through November during Trump’s campaign by a firm owned by a Turkish businessman with close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Associated Press reports that Flynn subsequently met with Turkey’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Energy in New York and then later lobbied a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, pressuring U.S. officials to take action against Erdogan’s former ally and current harsh critic, the cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan blames Gulen, now residing in the US, for orchestrating a coup attempt against him last July and has been pushing the US government to extradite him back to Turkey for prosecution.
Under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, U.S. citizens who lobby on behalf of foreign government or political entities must disclose their work to the Justice Department. Willfully failing to register is a felony, though the Justice Department rarely files criminal charges in such cases. It routinely works with lobbying firms to get back in compliance with the law by registering and disclosing their work.
In addition to the Capitol Hill lobbying, Flynn wrote an op-ed promoting Turkey’s political and business affairs that was published in the political newspaper, The Hill. Flynn was forced out of his position as Trump’s National Security Advisor when he was found to have misled Vice-President Pence about his conversations with Russia over sanctions. Contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia have led Democrats to call for an independent prosecutor to investigate possible collusion in influencing the presidential election.
This is just the latest chapter in the long list of corrupt actions and foreign influence tied to the Trump campaign and administration. Flynn will surely be called to testify in any investigation of the Russian ties to Trump.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.