Disgraced former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn has once again made headlines for his nefarious connections to Russia. Flynn, who was close to President Donald Trump during his campaign and immediately appointed as an advisor when Trump took office, was ousted in February after it was revealed he had deliberately misled Vice-President Mike Pence about his communications with Russian diplomats.
Now, it is clear that Flynn’s infiltration of Trump’s campaign to benefit Russia is worse than anyone imagined. This calls into question every single Trump policy that benefits Russia and Russian allies.
It has been revealed that, mere days before he was announced as National Security Advisor, Flynn was paid $600,000 dollars in a lobbying deal by a Turkish man who has business ties to Russia. These ties include a 2009 deal for aviation finance that was negotiated personally with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The man in question is Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish lobbyist who works in Washington D.C. with a Ukrainian man, Dmitri “David” Zaikin, a former energy and mining executive who has dealt with the Putin government.
Concerns exist about the motives of the two men, who have been steering a pro-Turkish lobby through various groups and channels since 2015. Questions about the source of their finances are also concerning.
The Turkish government and its autocratic leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have become increasingly close with Russia. Flynn’s hiring by Alptekin came during a time when Flynn was in the employ of the Trump campaign, and, coincidentally, when Putin’s government was under investigation for meddling with the election.
Flynn has been apprehensive about giving any clear answers about his arrangement with Alptekin. His lawyer has insisted that Flynn acted under assurances that he was not being directly or indirectly funded by a foreign government. But that was a lie.
In September Flynn reported that his client was a Dutch shell company that was owned by Alptekin. Once he was forced to resign as National Security Advisor, Flynn filed paperwork in March that admitted his work “principally benefitted” the Turkish government.
Flynn has failed to declare ties to foreign governments in the past. His initial White House ethics disclosure failed to mention payments from Kremlin propaganda machine RT and two other Russian companies. RT paid him for a speech at a Moscow gala where Flynn sat on the same table as Putin.
About The Men
Alptekin and Zaikin, the two men at the center of this conspiracy, claim they do not know each other. However, Alptekin has admitted that he attended meetings with leaders of the Turkish Heritage Organization, a pro-Turkey and pro-Erdogan lobbying group that was set up with help from Zaikin.
While the two men claim to be strangers, Politico reports that three people with direct knowledge of the situation claim that the two regularly met to coordinate Turkish lobbying in the U.S.
Zaikan himself was an executive in the Russian oil industry in the 2000s, a time when Putin was amassing control of Russia’s oil and mineral wealth for himself and his entourage’s benefit. Zaikan’s company, Siberian Energy Group, is claimed to have bene used by Putin’s allies to protect and hide assets.
Zaikin has frequently aided in securing oil and gas drilling licenses from the Russian government, an activity that no doubt involves a degree of corruption. Suffice to say, the man is shady at best, and clearly has connections to central figures in the Russian government.
Alptekin’s Russian business ties also involve direct links with Putin. In 2006 he bought a stake in New Mexico jet manufacturer Eclipse Aviation. Two years later the company announced its plans to build a $205 million factory in Russia, with financing from the Russian state bank Vnesheconombank. Vladimir Putin, then Prime Minister, was a member of the bank’s board.
A month later Eclipse filed for bankruptcy protection, and Alptekin and his partners decided to buy out the company, with financing from the bank chaired by Putin. Putin was personally involved in approving the loan. However, this funding never arrived and instead Alptekin bought Eclipse at a significantly reduced rate.
Flynn’s filings with the Justice Department declare that his lobbying for Alptekin involved pressuring the U.S. to hand over Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is Erdogan’s scapegoat for the failed 2016 coup, and Turkey has been trying to have him extradited so that he can face what will no doubt be an unfair and politically motivated trial.
The Turkish Heritage Organization has lobbied for the same thing.
It is now clear that Flynn was lobbying directly for the Turkish government and hired by individuals with connections to the Russian government.
At the moment it is unclear what the intentions of these men or foreign governments were. There is the possibility that Russia and Turkey were trying to coordinate lobbying and spying efforts under one roof, i.e. using the same corrupted individual. There is also the possibility that Zaikan and Apltekin are foreign agents or middlemen between foreign intelligence agencies and their spies. It is unlikely that we will find clear answers soon.
If it turns out that Flynn’s lobbying for Turkey was financed by the Kremlin it spells big trouble for the Trump administration, which has been trying to deflect allegations that the election campaign was influenced by Russia.
Regardless of the outcome, this is more bad news for Mike Flynn. Time for him to be brought to justice.