According to The Guardian, the Defense Department inspector general found evidence that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn took hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign governments and interests, despite having been warned more than once that it might be illegal.
After the retired general pleaded guilty in 2017 to federal criminal charges that he had lied to the FBI during its investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, then-president Donald Trump, Flynn and their supporters claimed that Flynn was the victim of political persecution.
Flynn’s prosecution, they insisted, without evidence, was the result of a vast conspiracy by the FBI and US intelligence agencies to sabotage Trump’s presidential campaign and presidency. Trump pardoned Flynn in the final days of his presidency.
But while pleading guilty in 2017, Flynn also admitted to committing another crime: related to his acceptance of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government of Turkey without registering with the justice department as an agent of a foreign government, which was required by law.
Now, according to people familiar with the confidential findings of the recently completed IG investigation, the Guardian can reveal Flynn was warned years earlier that his acceptance of foreign money and his not registering as a foreign agent likely would be illegal.
Flynn’s first warning came in an October 8, 2014 letter from the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to the report. The DIA warned “that his acceptance of foreign money might be a potential violation of federal law, as well as the emoluments clause of the US constitution, which similarly prohibits such foreign payments to government officials.”
On 30 November 2016, the justice department separately warned Flynn he might be violating a federal law, known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or Fara, in relation to his work as a lobbyist for the Turkish regime of the strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The law required Flynn to register with the DoJ as foreign agent and truthfully disclose details of his lobbying work to DoJ as well.
Despite the DIA warning not to take foreign money, Flynn still accepted $45,000 from RT, a Kremlin-controlled media organization described by US intelligence agencies as the “Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet”, $22,000 from other Russian interests, and $530,000 to serve as a lobbyist for Turkey. And despite the warning from the justice department, Flynn did not comply with the Fara statute.
Flynn resigned as DIA director in early August 2014. More than a year later, in December 2015, he accepted the payments from RT. From August 2016 until November of the same year, Flynn worked as an unregistered lobbyist for Turkey – while simultaneously serving as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump presidential campaign. On 18 November 2016, Trump, then the president-elect, named Flynn to be his national security adviser.
In light of these ignored warnings, The Guardian reported, “the DoD inspector general is currently making the case to the secretary of the army that Flynn be required to turn over to the US Treasury a portion of the proceeds that Flynn received from overseas sources.”
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