White House officials have acknowledged that President Donald Trump
’s transition team was informed, for two times before and after the inauguration, that the ousted national security adviser, Michael Flynn, might need to register with the government as a foreign agent.
An official with knowledge of the situation revealed to The Washington Post on Friday that Flynn’s attorneys told twice to the team about his possible plans to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent.
Their first conversation was with Don McGahn (picture below), Trump’s counsel, before the inauguration and the second was with another member of the White House legal team during the administration’s early days, according to the official who was speaking on the condition of anonymity.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer, however, claimed on Friday that Trump was never informed that his pick for first national security adviser was a “foreign agent.”
Flynn, who was taking a high profile role in Trump’s campaign, went to the White House as the president’s first national security adviser, but lasted only 24 days in the job. Trump fired him last month for failing to disclose his meeting with the Russian ambassador and misleading Vice President Mike Pence.
Flynn voluntarily filed documents with the Justice Department on Tuesday, admitting that he had been working last year as a foreign agent representing the interests of the Turkish government in a dispute with the US.
Michael Flynn arrives for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
He was paid $530,000 for working on behalf of a company owned by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin at the same time he was advising Trump’s presidential campaign. Alptekin denied having any ties to the Turkish government
Accordion to the filing, Flynn’s consulting firm—Flynn Intel Group Inc—involved in research about US-based opposition figure Fethullah Gulen,who is accused of orchestrating a failed coup attempt against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July. Erdogan has called for Gulen’s extradition, a request the administration of former President Barack Obama rebuffed.
Under a law in the United States
, US citizens, who lobby on behalf of foreign governments or political entities must disclose their work to the Justice Department. Failing to register is considered a crime, but the department rarely files criminal charges in such cases.