Mike Flynn Was Renting His Name to the Highest Bidder While Ostensibly Working for Trump

In this post, I noted that for three initial subjects of the FBI’s investigation into Trump associates’ ties with Russia — Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and George Papadopoulos — the campaign gave similar reasons for firing them as the Mueller Report laid out about their behavior.

The fourth initial subject of the investigation is Mike Flynn. The campaign did not fire Flynn for his ties to Russia; in fact, according to some Flynn associates, Trump directed him to reach out to Russia during the campaign.

Nevertheless, last week, Trump complained that he hadn’t been informed that Flynn was under investigation earlier (presumably asking why he wasn’t given a defensive briefing that discussed the investigation into Flynn specifically).

Of course, as I mentioned, we know how Trump would have responded to a warning because we know how Trump responded to Obama’s warning about Flynn: he blew it off.

Still, that should in no way undermine the investigation into Flynn.

The Russian side of the investigation into Flynn, partly for his trip to Moscow where he sat with Vladimir Putin in December 2015, goes largely unmentioned in the Mueller Report, suggesting it may have become a counterintelligence investigation into Russia instead.

But we can review the Bijan Kian indictment — which is based significantly off Flynn’s cooperation — to see how sleazy Flynn was acting while ostensibly serving as one of Trump’s top advisors on the campaign trail.

After the failed coup attempt against Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016 — around the same time Flynn was leading chants of “Lock her up” at the RNC — Erdogan was trying to persuade the American government to extradite Fethullah Gulen, using the coup as an excuse to crack down on a source of power that challenged his regime. After DOJ determined there was still no basis to extradite Gulen, Kian, Ekim Alptekin, and some high ranking Turkish officials reached out to Flynn’s consulting company. They asked what kind of spin Flynn and Kian could generate “on the short and mid-term,” but warned not to read anyone else in.

On July 30 — three months before the election — Kian and Flynn pitched a 3-month plan, again emphasizing the secrecy of the project. On August 2 — the same day Trump’s campaign manager got together with someone suspected of ties to Russian intelligence to talk about how to win Michigan and carve up Ukraine — Kian nudged Alptekin, again emphasizing the secrecy. On August 8, Alptekin approached the Turkish government.

This was also the period when Flynn started getting involved in an effort to find Hillary’s deleted emails from any possible source, including foreign intelligence services.

On August 11 — as the Turkish government grew closer to a deal and as Trump’s campaign manager started engaging in bigger and bigger lies to hide that he had been an Agent of Ukraine — Kian changed the name of the project, which had been “Truth” to “Project Confidence” and introduced Alptekin’s company, Inovo, as the funder as a cut-out t0 hide that Turkey was behind the plan. From that point forward, both Trump’s soon-t0-be-former campaign manager and one of his top national security advisors were engaged in subterfuge in an attempt to hide their work for foreign countries. In Flynn’s case, he was doing that work even as he campaigned for Trump.

On August 17, while negotiating a deal with the government of Turkey, Flynn accompanied Trump for his first intelligence briefing.

Flynn’s deal with Turkey was confirmed, with a 20% kickback to Alptekin for his company’s role as a cut-out, on August 25 and 26. When Kian put together the contract for the project on September 3, he set the start date two weeks after they really started it to hide that it was the same project for Turkey.

On September 8, Flynn would politicize the intelligence briefings he was attending with Trump while being paid by Turkey, claiming briefers indicated some policy differences with Obama.

“The intelligence we’ve received in the last two briefings were in stark contrast to the policy decisions being made,” Flynn said.

“They would say the intelligence professionals, as they should, they would say those are policy decisions,” Flynn continued. “So Donald Trump, in a very, very sophisticated way, was asking tough questions, and they would back off and say, ‘That is not our job, those are policy decisions at the—in this case the White House is making.’ And we would sit there and go, OK, we understand.”

Flynn, however, caught some controversy himself when NBC News reported on Thursday that Flynn was unruly in one of the briefings. The report stated that Trump’s transition chief, Chris Christie, had to calm Flynn down after he repeatedly interrupted intelligence officers with pointed questions.

On September 9, the first check arrived, $200,000, of which $40,000 went back to Alptekin as a kick-back.

On September 19, Flynn and his partners met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkish Energy Minister (and Erdogan son-in-law) Berat Albayrak in New York and discussed how to bring about Gulen’s extradition. James Woolsey, attending the meeting as an advisory board member with Flynn’s firm, described the meeting as “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” Woolsey declined his consulting fee after attending the meeting, in part out of legal concern, and let Joe Biden know about it via a mutual friend.

That was a week before the first Presidential debate.

On October 11, two days after the second presidential debate, the second check arrived, $185,000, with another $40,000 kicked back to Alptekin. Two days later, Flynn started reading from talking points scripted by Kian: funding, “Islamists,” and Mullahs.

On October 22, two days after the third debate, Flynn wrote members of the project team, referencing the Turkish officials who were the real customers for the project.

On November 2, days before Americans went to the polls, Flynn’s cut-out demanded more: private investigative work targeting Gulen’s supporters, congressional hearings on his schools. That same day, Kian sent Alptekin an op-ed he had drafted. Kian told Flynn the next day an editor was tightening it up before showing it to Flynn. November 4, Kian sent it to Alptekin, who loved it.

Flynn signed his name to Kian’s work and it was published in The Hill, blaming Gulen for the attempted coup, invoking “professionals in the intelligence community” viewing “the stamp of terror” in Gulen’s ideology, but the language was really written by Kian. The paid op-ed would go on to complain about Gulen’s “vast network of public relations” and his “false façade.”

On November 10, two days after Flynn’s op-ed and Trump’s victory and the day Obama warned Trump against picking Flynn to be his National Security Advisor, the third check came, another $200,000 to do the bidding of Turkey.

Even after the FARA office started nagging Flynn about registering, he stalled for the entire time he was in the White House, even while engaging Turkey and Russia in their joint peace plan for Syria. When he finally submitted his FARA filing on March 7, 2017, he falsely claimed he had written the op-ed as a public figure, not in the service of Turkey.

Trump may not have fired him. But both his wails that he should have been informed Flynn was under investigation (at a briefing Flynn attended) and that this investigation was in any way without predicate belie the sheer audacity with which Flynn sold his name to the highest bidder even while claiming to work for Trump.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

28 replies
  1. Tracy Lynn says:

    It takes my breath away — the open, in-your-face grift, corruption, and arrogant way Flynn, et al., operated in service to other countries as they traded on their insider status while beating the drum of “patriotism.” Thank you for laying this all out. What a terrific post.

    • P J Evans says:

      It also lays out how little attention Tr*mp gave to the stuff they told him about Flynn. He was briefed – more than once – and apparently blew it off.

      • dwfreeman says:

        Trump didn’t blow it off, he didn’t care. He hid behind the fiction of not knowing about the Trump Tower meeting when his campaign was told repeatedly the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton and never reported any of the 251 contacts and meetings his campaign had with Kremlin-linked operatives, 88 of which occurred after that briefing that Flynn attended.

        And ultimately he wrote a revisionist excuse for that meeting’s agenda actually based on a Russia talking point that paradoxically condemns the very thing he was trying to hide –his personal and campaign mirroring with the Kremlin’s effort to elect him.

        Trump didn’t fire associates for contacting Russians. He fired them because they were reported to have repeatedly done so in the media. It was ostensibly for political corrrectness, but it was about avoiding greater scrutiny. Flynn’s firing was never based on doing the right thing politically, it was about protecting the bigger lie about Trump’s connection with foreign advesaries to advance his illegitimate election.

        And, curiously enough, Flynn’s role would invariably lead to appointment of a special counsel and the Mueller Report that would document the very issues Trump whinily asserts has plagued his administration.

    • earlofhuntingdonn says:

      That’s Trump’s specialty. He hides almost everything he does, but is open and notorious about its effects. He thinks it’s his get-out-of-jail-free card. Great propaganda, drawn straight from Capone and Goebbels. But I’m not convinced it will keep him out of court or out of jail.

  2. P J Evans says:

    “Kian told Flynn the next day he was tightening it up before showing it to Flynn.” (fifth or sixth paragraph from the end)

    Should the second “Flynn” in that be “Alptekin”?

  3. Bay State Librul says:

    Will Flynn ever be sentenced?
    After he testifies against his partner?
    I’ve lost track

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes. But it’s not clear it’ll help him. Sullivan appears to have seen something that really offends him, and it’s pretty clear Flynn got off easy, even for the first cooperator.

      • Bay State Librul says:

        Thanks. Could you be hired by one of the Democratic Committees to provide expertise on Mueller. My kindle says that I can get the report for $.99. The DNC should give out free downloads to the first 1 million requestors and it should be mandated for all civic teachers.

  4. Leslie Wilde says:

    With all that Flynn did to sell out his country it’s shocking, but unfortunately not unprecedented, that Mueller (and the DOJ) still recommended he serve a very light person sentence if at all. I understand rewarding scofflaws like Flynn may induce them to spill their guts when finally caught, but I don’t think the DOJ should then allow them to serve no prison sentence, or a relatively short sentence. Otherwise it encourages others to pursue the same line of work and sell out their country. I think Flynn should be publicly humiliated by reading his crimes out loud in court, and then perp walked into a stiff prison sentence to send a signal that betraying America will cost you your dignity and your freedom.

    • bmaz says:

      That is remarkably shortsighted. And not how federal sentencing guidelines work. In fact, the idea of guidelines is to take out exactly this kind of raw emotion.

      Secondly, it is not what “DOJ will allow”, sentencing is up to the court and judge, not the DOJ. Flynn’s “crimes” are already in the record, and have always been in the form of charging docs and sentencing memoranda. His dignity has already been “cost”.

      Lastly, while you seem to be able to focus only on humiliation and punishment, maybe give a little more emphasis to the thought that early and deep cooperation is also rewarded. That also benefits the government and its citizens. You touched on this for the briefest of seconds before launching into the dubious humiliation routine. This is why we have professionals and courts to deal with these issues.

      • Benoit Roux says:

        I agree, but I am still confused. It is clear that the Special Council got something out of Flynn and recommended a fairly lenient treatment. Yet, from where I stand it seems like Flynn is not even remotely repentant, to the point of communicating with GOP officials to encourage them to keep the good fight. What could he have possibly given that is of such value that he allowed to go on and almost makes a mockery of the justice system? It seems that he was right at the center of the initial corruption (with Trump, Kushner, McFarland), yet I don’t see which guilty person we caught out his supposed cooperation.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As bmaz says, the DoJ can only recommend. It’s up to the court to weigh its arguments and those of the defense and decide on sentencing, pursuant to the federal guidelines. What sentence is merited depends a great deal on the broader value of the cooperation, not just on the crimes done by the person being sentenced.

      Helping to take down Capone’s entire enterprise, for example, might be worth a lighter sentence, even for a murderer, if it stopped wholesale corruption and other murders. It’s just that the public, for good reason, won’t ever see much of the information on which such a lighter sentence is based.

  5. klynn says:

    EW thank you for your Hope Hicks NYTs article response. You are correct on so many levels. Looks like MH must be publishing branding pieces from her mom. So much for critical thinking from MH. MH’s work read like RU propaganda.

  6. Jenny says:

    Quotes by Michael T. Flynn:
    “What I believe in is I believe in law.”
    “When you are given immunity that means that you’ve probably committed a crime.”
    “There’s one thing that I know about myself, I could wash dishes and be happy.”

  7. e.a.f. says:

    that read just blew me away. omg, its like a spy movie and this was all happening in the U.S.A. Flynn really ought to go to jail for this stuff, doesn’t have to be for very long, just long enough to send a message to the next person who tries this. Taking money to deport some one who had a legal right to be in the U.S.A. stinks on ice. If he had a soul, he sold it for the “30 pieces of silver”. Its beyond me how some one could do this to their country. Its truly difficult to comprehend why people do this, not that it matters. When its wrong, its wrong.

  8. Badger Robert says:

    Thus, he was a private spy. and was collecting enough information to be able to protect himself and his son. With respect to a spy, it is always a permeable barrier between loyalty and acting the part expected by the other side.

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