Lawyers for retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn told President Donald Trump's transition team that Flynn might need to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent, according to a White House official and a person with direct knowledge of the discussions.
In a letter, dated March 7, a lawyer for the Flynn Intel Group told the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) division of the DOJ that the company had done work on behalf of a Dutch client, Inovo BV.
The Associated Press reported on the filing by Flynn admitting that he was contracted to do work that might have benefited the Turkish government, one that has been criticized for becoming more and more despotic under President Erdogan.
Trump asked Flynn to step down last month for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. "When an American businessman hires a consultant or lobbyist, nobody assumes he is working for the US government, why is it different in my case?" he said in an interview with Daily Sabah on Thursday.
Some U.S. lawmakers have questioned Flynn's relationship with the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It's hard to say with confidence whether Spicer is telling the truth or not, but under the circumstances, even if we accept the answer at face value, it's not unreasonable to wonder how and why the president didn't know.
Flynn, at the invitation of Inovo's founder, met with Turkish officials including the ministers of foreign affairs and energy in NY in September. This is about what you'd expect Flynn to say.
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Let's get back to the question of why no one discovered this before appointing Flynn as national security adviser.
After his firm's work was done, Flynn agreed to not lobby for five years after leaving government service, and never to work on behalf of foreign governments again.
Small wonder, then, that the Justice Department demanded that Flynn register himself and his firm as foreign agents.
The filings state Flynn Intel Group's work with Inovo ended November 15, 2016. They also worked on research, informational materials and a video on the cleric, Fethullah Gulen.
He did not explain whether anyone in the Trump operation dug into Flynn's lobbying work.
Flynn Intel Group's work for Inovo netted the firm $535,000.
Yet questions surrounding Flynn's links to Turkey first popped up as early as past year - prior to his appointment - raising questions about the quality of vetting of top Trump officials, and adding to the controversy surrounding the administration's ties to foreign governments.