kscarbel2 Posted November 19, 2016 Share Posted November 19, 2016 Associated Press / November 18, 2016 Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been offered the role of national security adviser in Trump’s adminstration, began receiving classified national security briefings last summer while he was also running a private consulting firm that offered “all-source intelligence support” to international clients. Two months ago, during the height of the presidential campaign, Flynn’s consulting firm, the Flynn Intel Group, registered to lobby for a Dutch company owned by a Turkish businessman close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Critics are livid that Flynn began sitting in on U.S. intelligence briefings for Trump in August while working for foreign clients. “This is profoundly troubling and should be disqualifying,” said Norm Eisen, who served as Obama’s ethics adviser and later as an ambassador to the CzechRepublic. He predicted that if Flynn is named as Trump’s national security adviser, “there will be wholesale resignations of national security professionals, and I believe some have already drafted their resignation letters.” On Thursday, White House officials refused to say if Flynn was designated to receive national security briefings. According to a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding signed on Election Day, the Trump transition team, as a condition of receiving government briefing materials, was required to provide a statement to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough last week that all designated members of the transition team had disclosed their financial interests and did not have any conflicts of interest. A Trump transition spokesman refused to answer questions about whether Flynn had made such disclosures. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the terms of the memorandum raise questions about whether Flynn is even eligible to continue to receive national security briefings at this point. Flynn Intel Group chief counsel Robert Kelly refused to say why the firm was hired to lobby Congress on behalf of Innova BV, a firm based in Holland and owned by the Turkish businessman, Ekim Alptekin. The lobbying disclosure statement filed with the secretary of the Senate on Sept. 30 states only that Flynn’s firm “will advise client on U.S. domestic and foreign policy” and congressional appropriations bills for the State Department. Without disclosing his lobbying relationship with the Turkish firm, Flynn published an op-ed in the newspaper the Hill on Election Day, in which he advanced the No. 1 cause of Erdogan’s government: advocating the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish exile living in Pennsylvania whom Erdogan has blamed for instigating the failed military coup against his government last summer. In the op-ed, which ran under the headline “Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support,” Flynn described Gülen as a “shady Islamic mullah,” who runs a “vast global network [that] has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper network. This is the not the first time questions have been raised about Flynn’s overseas ties. Last December, Flynn, who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 until 2014, flew to Moscow to participate in the 10th anniversary of RT, the Russian government propaganda network. He gave an interview to one of its anchors and attended a gala dinner where he sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin. In a testy exchange with Yahoo News during the Republican Convention in Cleveland in July, Flynn acknowledged that he was paid through his speakers bureau to attend the RT event, but he refused to say how much. What was striking, according to ethics experts, is that given his overseas consulting business, Flynn began sitting in on classified intelligence briefings with Trump last summer. Flynn was reportedly so assertive during the initial briefing in August, peppering the briefers with rapid-fire questions, that Trump’s adviser Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who also attended the briefing, was prompted to try to calm him down by placing a hand on his arm. Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, an outside watchdog group, said that she finds it “deeply disturbing” that Flynn attended these briefings at a time that he was representing foreign clients with interests before the U.S. government. “It’s exactly the kind of foreign entanglements our laws are designed to prevent,” she said. One retired military officer who has advised both Republican and Democratic presidents said of the allegations about Flynn: “If this is true, it’s a disqualifying conflict of interest — if not by ethics laws, certainly in the spirit of conflict of interest, not to mention security regulations. We should be deeply concerned about his ethical judgment, but more specifically how can he possibly provide unbiased advice to the POTUS about Turkey and Russia, when he’s taken money from both.” . Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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