Ed already flagged the McClatchy piece about Flynn discouraging the Obama White House from letting a Kurdish force attack Raqqa to oust ISIS, something that made his former client, Turkey, happy. The other news today is a Times piece that claims the Trump transition team knew not only that Flynn had worked for Turkey but that he was already under federal investigation because of it.
Yet they made him NSA anyway. How come?
Michael T. Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case…
Mr. Flynn’s disclosure, on Jan. 4, was first made to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel. That conversation, and another one two days later between Mr. Flynn’s lawyer and transition lawyers, shows that the Trump team knew about the investigation of Mr. Flynn far earlier than has been previously reported…
Trump campaign officials first became aware of a problem with Mr. Flynn’s business dealings in early November. On Nov. 8, the day of the election, Mr. Flynn wrote an op-ed in The Hill that advocated improved relations between Turkey and the United States and called Mr. Gulen “a shady Islamic mullah.”…
The Justice Department also took notice. The op-ed in The Hill raised suspicions that Mr. Flynn was working as a foreign agent, and in a letter dated Nov. 30, the Justice Department notified Mr. Flynn that it was scrutinizing his lobbying work.
Didn’t we know already that Team Trump was aware of Flynn’s unregistered lobbying for Turkey early on? Yep, we did; I blogged about it in March, in fact. What we didn’t know (I think) is that the transition team also knew the feds had opened a probe over it. Bad enough to name the guy NSA knowing there was a lobbying scandal hanging over his head, waiting to be uncovered by the media. To do it also knowing that there would be a “NSA SUBJECT OF FEDERAL PROBE” headline in the offing is baffling.
Also, Flynn knew he was being investigated in late November and didn’t tell his soon-to-be boss about it until early January, less than three weeks before the inauguration? Again, how come?
At Red State, streiff makes a good catch: Flynn had already been named the next national security advisor by Trump on November 17th, almost two weeks before the DOJ told Flynn that they had opened an investigation. Trump didn’t name him NSA knowing that he was under investigation; even Flynn didn’t know when he accepted the position. But the fact remains that they let him stick around through the inauguration and into February, and maybe would have let him linger even longer than that if natsec people hadn’t started leaking to WaPo about Flynn potentially having been compromised by his sanctions chat with the Russian ambassador. The loyalty here runs weirdly deep. Is the explanation for it as simple as this?
EXCLUSIVE: Trump family had "blind spot when it came to Flynn," per source. New details re mtg where Flynn asked for & was granted NSA job. pic.twitter.com/PK4J6nISU4
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) May 18, 2017
As recently as two days ago, the Times reported that Trump still “openly laments” having had to fire Flynn. Last week the Daily Beast claimed that Trump’s lawyers have had to warn him repeatedly not to talk to Flynn, knowing that anything Trump tells him could be offered by Flynn to prosecutors as part of a potential immunity deal. (According to this report, Trump has been communicating with Flynn anyway.) Maybe there really was a “blind spot” in naming him NSA, coupled with Trump’s not unreasonable belief that he and Flynn could survive and thrive amid any hostile media climate, even one driven by scandal coverage of Flynn’s lobbying. This is a guy who won a national election less than a month after audio of him talking about grabbing women by the p***y was all over the TV. If he could beat that, he and Flynn could beat this Turkey thing.
The takeaway, though, is that the guy who called off the Kurdish operation against ISIS as the Obama administration was winding down had a financial relationship with Turkey, which is verrrry nervous about the Kurds spearheading military operations across its border. (Trump did eventually agree to aid a Kurdish offensive against ISIS but not until long after after Flynn had departed.) That reeks. And one more thing: Are we sure Mike Pence was telling the truth on March 9th when he claimed that he hadn’t heard of Flynn’s Turkish lobbying until that very day? Pence was the head of the Trump transition team, remember, and we know now that transition staffers learned of the lobbying and the federal probe in January. So how did their boss, Mike Pence, not know?
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 10, 2017