Top House Democrat Presses Trump Team On Possible Michael Flynn Conflicts Of Interest
House Democrats are asking the Trump transition team to provide documents that would show whether retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the president-elect’s new national security advisor, disclosed potential financial conflicts of interest involving his intelligence consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group.
In a letter sent Friday, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, asked Vice President-Elect Mike Pence to provide various documents that Flynn should have disclosed to the Trump team.
The request is a response to the revelation that Flynn Intel Group signed a lobbying contract in September with an obscure Dutch company that was founded by a Turkish-Dutch businessman with close ties to the Turkish government. (RELATED: Trump’s Top Military Adviser Is Lobbying For Obscure Dutch Company With Ties To Turkish Government)
Flynn, who has advised Trump for months, announced on Thursday that he was cutting ties with his company. But the failure to disclose the relationship up front could pose a problem for Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, given that he has sat in on classified intelligence briefings with Trump both before and after the election.
Flynn’s new position does not require Senate approval as do cabinet positions like Secretary of Defense. That means that a congressional letter of inquiry is one of the only ways that Congress can vet Trump’s pick.
In his letter, Cummings asserted that Flynn’s lobbying ties may violate the Trump team’s code of ethical conduct, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that the Trump transition team agreed to with the White House last week.
The MOU states that individuals who receive briefings involving classified or non-public information must agree that “he or she has no financial interest or imputed financial interest that would be directly and predictably affected by a particular matter to which the information is pertinent.”
Flynn’s relationship with the Dutch firm, Inovo BV, was revealed several days after the MOU was signed.
As The Daily Caller reported, Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish-Dutch businessman who serves as chairman of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Advisory Board, founded Inovo BV in 2005. Alptekin has said that he has paid Flynn Intel Group tens of thousands of dollars for the lobbying work. He also said that he was serving as a middleman for a non-Turkish energy company.
On Election Day, Flynn published an op-ed praising Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Flynn also supported the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who is living in exile in Pennsylvania.
Erdogan has accused Gulen of plotting a failed coup against the Turkish government in July.
While Flynn said he is leaving Flynn Intel Group, he did not say whether the firm — which was founded in 2014 — would continue to do business with Inovo BV. Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., also works for Flynn Intel Group.
“President-elect Trump promised during his campaign that he would ‘drain the swamp,’ but his top national security adviser is Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, whose firm is reportedly being paid to lobby the U.S. Government by a close ally of Turkey’s president,” Cummings said in a statement on Friday. “It is unclear how Lt. Gen. Flynn was reportedly allowed into intelligence briefings during the campaign despite these apparent conflicts of interest.”
Cummings asked Pence to provide Flynn’s signed copy of the transition team’s code of ethical conduct as well as any other signed statements in which Flynn represented that he does not have financial conflicts of interest. He is also asking for any client lists that Flynn may have provided the transition team.
The Trump transition team has not responded to requests for comment about any Flynn disclosures.