New details are emerging about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s decision to register as a foreign agent of Turkey earlier this month.
Flynn was first contacted by the Justice Department’s National Security Division on Nov. 30, according to an internal DOJ spreadsheet which lists sensitive, high-profile agency matters.
The unclassified DOJ document, which is dated Jan. 27, was sent via email to then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates. A read-out was provided to The Daily Caller in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for Yates’ correspondence regarding Flynn.
According to the spreadsheet, which was dispersed to other DOJ officials, a pro-Turkey editorial Flynn wrote on Nov. 8 and subsequent media coverage sparked the agency’s reach-out to the retired lieutenant general.
“In light of that editorial and reports in the media about potential ties between Lt. Gen. Flynn and others who might be acting on behalf of the government of Turkey, on Nov. 30, NSD requested additional information from Lt. Gen. Flynn and his firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc.,” the spreadsheet reads.
It had been unclear exactly why Flynn decided to register, though his unusually detailed filing did suggest that he was compelled by government forces to disclose the work.
In his March 7 disclosure, filed with the National Security Division under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), Flynn revealed that his firm, Flynn Intel Group, was paid $530,000 for three months of work on behalf of a small Dutch company operated by a Turkish businessman with close ties to Ankara.
Flynn Intel initially registered with the Senate as a lobbyist for the firm, Inovo BV. And according to the New Yorker, Flynn’s firm reportedly considered registering under FARA at the time but decided against it.
Flynn’s company filed a termination report for the lobbying contract on Dec. 1, a day after DOJ first contacted Flynn. That disclosure stated that Flynn Intel received less than $5,000 from Inovo BV, far less than the firm’s actual take.
The DOJ memo also says that Flynn’s lawyers responded to the Justice Department on Jan. 11 and advised that Flynn and Flynn Intel would “probably register under FARA.”
The registration could happen “imminently and will be made public,” the spreadsheet reads.
After Flynn registered under FARA this month, it emerged that his attorneys informed the White House’s general counsel both before and after Trump’s inauguration that Flynn would likely be registering as a foreign agent.
Flynn’s work for Inovo BV was first reported by The Daily Caller on Nov. 11, just days after the Trump adviser published a peculiar op-ed in The Hill praising Turkey’s president and calling on the U.S. government to extradite one of Turkey’s main enemies, a self-exiled cleric named Fethullah Gulen. (RELATED: Michael Flynn Is Lobbying For Obscure Dutch Firm With Ties To Turkish Government)
“On November 8, Lt. Gen. Flynn published an editorial in The Hill expressed views that were criticial of the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen similar to those previously expressed by the president of Turkey and other Turkish officials,” reads the DOJ document.
The op-ed was part of Flynn Intel’s PR effort to help push the issue of Gulen’s extradition. The firm also agreed in its contract with Inovo BV to conduct research of Gulen and to potentially make “criminal referrals” to federal agencies. (RELATED: As Foreign Agent For Turkey, Flynn Agreed To Form Elite Investigative Team, Seek ‘Criminal Referrals’)
Flynn and other officials with Flynn Intel also had a meeting in New York City on Sept. 19 with Turkey’s foreign minister and energy minister.
During that meeting, the idea of conducting an extrajudicial removal of Gulen was discussed, former CIA director James Woolsey claimed last week. (RELATED: Former CIA Director Says Flynn Discussed Kidnapping Turkish Cleric)
As an unpaid adviser for Flynn Intel, Woolsey attended some of the meeting and said he was disturbed by what he heard. Flynn has denied that the idea of kidnapping Gulen was discussed during the meeting.
As for Yates, it is unclear whether she was involved in the negotiations over Flynn’s registration as a foreign agent. But the Obama appointee was a central figure in another scandal involving Flynn.
Yates reportedly informed the White House just days into the Trump administration that Flynn was not entirely truthful about his conversations during the presidential transition period with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn had denied discussing anything of substance with Kislyak when they spoke by phone in December, but it later emerged that the pair talked about sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed against Russia for its cyber attacks during the presidential campaign.
Trump fired Flynn on Feb. 13. The reason given by the White House was that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Kislyak. Pence said in several interviews in January that Flynn did not discuss sanctions with the Kremlin diplomat.
Yates, who was fired on Jan. 30 after refusing to comply with Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim nations, may have other incriminating information about Flynn. She also reportedly warned that he had made himself vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians. (RELATED: White House Says Yates ‘Betrayed Her Office’)
Yates was set to testify to the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week about the Russia investigation, but the hearing was cancelled. Democrats accused the White House and Republican committee chairman, Devin Nunes, of attempting to prevent Yates from spilling the beans on Flynn. White House press secretary Sean Spicer denied those claims, saying that the White House hopes Yates will testify.
A request for comment submitted through Yates’ lawyer was not returned.