These are definitely uncharted waters, if not alarming and frightening waters. Donald Trump ran against his Democratic rival by calling her “crooked Hillary.” Just keep that in mind during this story.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he didn’t believe it was known that Michael Flynn, who had to resign as Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser due to undisclosed contacts with Russia that he lied about, was also working as a foreign agent for Turkey during the campaign, while he served as a top adviser to Donald Trump. Flynn was paid $530,000 for 3 months of work as a “foreign agent” for Turkey, according to recent filings.
The White House couldn’t really say if they knew about Flynn’s work as a foreign agent whilst he served as top adviser to Donald Trump and at the time that President Trump appointed him to be the National Security Adviser.
From the White House briefing during a question and answer with reporter John Roberts:
Q Was the President aware that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was acting as a foreign agent when he appointed him to be the national security advisor?
MR. SPICER: I don’t believe that that was known. I would refer you to General Flynn and the Department of Justice in terms of the filings that have been made.
Q Had the President have known that, would he have appointed him?
MR. SPICER: I don’t know, John. That’s a hypothetical that I’m not prepared to ask. I don’t know what he discussed prior to being appointed in terms of his background, his resume, his client base. I don’t know any of that. I know that, from what I have read, that he has filed the appropriate forms with the Department of Justice, and I think you should ask him and subsequently them if you have any questions about this specific filing.
Actually, no, Flynn did not file the appropriate forms with the Justice Department at the time, which is technically a felony.
The amended filing was made “in response to pressure from Justice Department officials in recent weeks,” the AP reported a businessman who hired Flynn’s consulting firm telling them. “The businessman, Ekim Alptekin, said in a phone call from Istanbul that the changes were a response to ‘political pressure’ and he did not agree with Flynn’s decision to file the registration documents with the Justice Department.”
Normally the Justice Department doesn’t go around pursuing felony charges against people who fail to file properly, but in this case we have a man working as top adviser and then National Security Adviser in the White House, whose other foreign contacts are already such a problem that he was fired after misrepresenting them.
“This disconnect between what Flynn’s firm reported and what was really going on is startling, said Alex Howard, deputy director of the pro-transparency Sunlight Foundation,” The Huffington Post reported based on an interview with Howard. Howard explained to HuffPo, “’If people lobby for foreign countries in the United States, much less if former high-ranking military officers lobby for foreign countries, it’s reasonable to expect them to register [with the Justice Department] at the point they sign a contract.’”
If Donald Trump didn’t know his own top adviser and person he appointed as National Security Adviser was working, quite literally, as a foreign agent at the time, he is too foolish to be president. If he did know, he has a lot of explaining to do.
What exactly is the vetting process the Trump camp used to pick people? Or, better yet, was there a vetting process other than ideological fits with their conspiracy theories and a desire to bring down the government from within.
Donald Trump’s actions and choices since taking office have already disproven his claim that he will “Make America Great Again.”
Update 6:00 PM EST: So, this denial isn’t looking so hot, just a few hours later:
On Flynn/Turkey: Source w knowledge of situation says Flynn's lawyers contacted Trump legal counsel TWICE—during transition and in WH. (1/2)
— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) March 10, 2017
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.