President Trump had a “lengthy conversation” over the weekend with a key witness in the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Politico reported on Monday that former CIA Director James Woolsey, a former business associate of Flynn’s, attended a dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort over the weekend. He was invited by Chris Ruddy, a Trump confidante and publisher of Newsmax.
The encounter has raised eyebrows because of Woolsey’s involvement as a witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who was fired from his White House gig on Feb. 13.
Mueller is reportedly looking into Flynn’s consulting work for the Turkish government last year, when he served as an adviser to the Trump campaign. Woolsey began advising the Trump campaign in September but abruptly left the Trump transition team in early January.
Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, signed a $600,000 contract in Aug. 2016 with a Turkish businessman to investigate Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen.
The Turkish government has accused Gulen of masterminding a failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has pressed the U.S. government to extradite Gulen, who has lived in exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.
Flynn Intel Group was hired by Inovo BV, a Dutch shell company owned by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin.
The project called for Flynn Intel Group to investigate Gulen and to potentially make “criminal referrals” in the case. The firm was also contracted to produce a documentary smearing Gulen.
The documentary was never completed. Flynn eventually published an op-ed on Election Day, Nov. 8, calling for Gulen’s extradition. That piece led to the discovery of the link between Flynn Intel and Inovo BV. (RELATED: Michael Flynn Is Lobbying For Obscure Dutch Company With Ties To Turkish Government)
Flynn and Alptekin also attended a Sept. 19, 2016 meeting in New York City with two Turkish government officials.
After Flynn disclosed the details of his contract with Alptekin in March, Woolsey, who then served as an adviser to Flynn Intel Group, came forward to say that he had attended the Sept. 19 meeting. He told The Wall Street Journal that the idea of kidnapping Gulen and returning him to Turkey was discussed. Woolsey claimed that he told an aide of then-Vice President Joe Biden about the discussion.
It was only recently revealed that Woolsey and his wife met the following day with Alptekin and another Turkish businessman offering up a campaign to discredit Gulen. According to Reuters, Woolsey sought $10 million for the project.
Woolsey has reportedly been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as part of the case. He and his wife have cooperated with FBI agents regarding Flynn’s dealings.
Flynn also reportedly attended a meeting in December in which he was offered up to $15 million if he could orchestrate Gulen’s return to Turkey. Flynn disclosed the September meeting in filings with the Justice Department, but he made no mention of the December session.
Woolsey did not attend the December meeting, his spokesman Jonathan Franks told TheDC earlier this month.
Franks did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment about Woolsey’s Mar-a-Lago encounter with Trump, but he did issue a statement on Twitter.
“Ambassador Woolsey has served four Presidents. He has never communicated the contents of his conversations with any of them to a third party and doesn’t intend to start now,” Franks said.
Ruddy, who invited Woolsey to the shindig, did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Politico, Trump and first lady Melania Trump were seated at a main table with Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter. Trump’s son Eric was also at the dinner, as was Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross, Woolsey, legendary golf pro Jack Nicklaus, and others.