What an interesting leak this is. Seems like every Mueller story I read includes a passage about how he runs a tight ship and doesn’t tolerate his staff whispering to reporters. Who else but his office would be in a position to know this, though? And why would they feel obliged to make it publicly known?
Best guess: Mueller’s having a surprisingly hard time getting Flynn to cooperate with the investigation a la George Papadopoulos. He probably threatened Flynn privately with an indictment to try to crack him, then increased the pressure by threatening to indict his son too. No dice. So now he’s leaking hints of a looming indictment to the media to spook Flynn further. What’s strange is that Flynn was reportedly eager for an immunity deal with Congress this past spring, before Mueller was appointed and while the two congressional intelligence committees were leading the Russiagate probe. If he was willing to talk for immunity then, you’d think he’d be willing to make a deal with Mueller to limit his jail time.
Incidentally, if the reporting here is accurate, this would be yet another case of a top Trump campaign advisor being indicted in the Russiagate investigation for crimes unrelated to collusion with Russia against Hillary. The charges Flynn is supposedly facing have to do with the unregistered lobbying work he did for Turkey last year, including an alleged plot to extradite or even kidnap Erdogan nemesis Fethullah Gulen from his home in Pennsylvania and hand him over to the Turkish government.
A former senior law enforcement official said that in the weeks after Trump’s inauguration the FBI was asked to conduct a new review of Turkey’s 2016 request to extradite Fethullah Gulen, an elderly Muslim cleric living in the U.S. whom President Erdogan blames for orchestrating a coup to overthrow him.
The FBI pushed back on the request because Turkey had supplied no additional information that could incriminate Gulen since a review of the case during the Obama administration, the official said. It is unclear whether the request to investigate Gulen came from Flynn or through the typical diplomatic channels at the State Department.
The FBI is also investigating former CIA Director Jim Woolsey’s account to the Wall Street Journal — which he confirmed to MSNBC — that Flynn and Turkish officials discussed a potential plan to forcibly remove Gulen from the country in September 2016, according to sources close to Woolsey, who say the former director has spoken to FBI agents working for Mueller about the matter…
The elder Flynn was paid $530,000 last year for work the Justice Department says benefited the government of Turkey.
Follow the money. Flynn gets half a million dollars from Turkey for lobbying work while he’s part of the Trump campaign and in line to become a key foreign-policy official if Trump wins the election. As late as two months before Election Day, according to Woolsey, Flynn is huddling with representatives of the Turkish government about ways to let them get their hands on Gulen, “possibly outside the legal US extradition system.” Then, during Flynn’s very brief tenure as National Security Advisor, the FBI starts feeling pressure from some wing of the federal government — it’s not clear which yet — to take another hard look at extraditing Gulen to Turkey. The suggestion, obviously, is that Flynn might have used his natsec position to try to shape U.S. policy to suit the needs of his patrons in Turkey.
Which doesn’t sound very “America First.”
At a minimum, it’s a cinch that Mueller’s going to indict Flynn for not registering as a foreign agent when he began doing his lobbyist work for Turkey. Manafort was indicted under the same law, which is almost unheard of in Washington. But now that he and Flynn have raised public awareness of Americans carrying water for sleazy regimes and being richly remunerated for it without ever formally declaring the relationship, as the law requires them to do, other foreign lobbyists may start registering forthrightly. In that sense, Mueller is draining the swamp.
As for the White House, you can guess what they’ll say if and when Flynn is charged: He was only part of the administration for three weeks and his alleged crimes have nothing to do with campaign collusion with Russia. True enough, but the next question will be why Flynn’s relationship with Turkey didn’t raise any alarm bells for Team Trump before he was named National Security Advisor. Not only did Trump’s transition team apparently know that Flynn had never registered as a foreign lobbyist, they also reportedly knew that he was under federal investigation for his relationship with Turkey before Trump appointed him NSA. In hindsight Sally Yates and the DOJ did Trump a huge favor politically by forcing his hand in booting Flynn so early in his term over his sanctions chitchat with the Russian ambassador. God only knows how many other scandals Flynn might have saddled the White House with had he stayed longer in the job. Although Trump himself doesn’t see it that, of course.
As for what the probe is *supposed* to be about, you never know what evidence Mueller might be sitting on. But if there’s something out there that proves Trump/Russia collusion, Dianne Feinstein hasn’t seen it yet.