Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser for President Donald Trump, is now the subject of a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller III over whether he colluded with the Turkish government.
Mueller's investigators recently questioned witnesses about an alleged December 2016 meeting between Flynn and officials associated with the Turkish government, according to NBC News. Mueller is probing whether Flynn discussed a plan for freeing Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was incarcerated in the United States on federal charges of trying to help Iran circumvent American sanctions. One concern that Mueller has is that Flynn may have been offered upwards of $15 million in secret payments from his Turkish contacts in return for his potential services in achieving that goal.
Mueller also wants to learn about whether Flynn tried to arrange for the return to Turkey of a political opponent of that nation's dictatorial president, Recep Erdogan. That rival, Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, is living in Pennsylvania with a U.S. green card, and has been accused of fomenting opposition to Erdogan, prompting the Turkish strongman to demand his extradition.
Finally Flynn continues to be under investigation by Mueller for alleged lobbying he did on behalf of the Turkish government that he did not disclose, according to CNN. The network also reported that Flynn is concerned about how his son, Michael Flynn Jr., may wind up being ensnared in Mueller's probe. Flynn Jr. is also under investigation and was an active member of Flynn Intel Group, his father's consulting and lobbying firm.
The elder Flynn has been a central player in the ongoing scandals against Trump since before his presidency. Flynn had close connections to Russia prior to his work as a Trump foreign policy adviser and his misleading of Vice President Mike Pence on conversations he had with Russian officials led to his termination less than one month into Trump's presidency.
More notably, many of Trump's critics have accused him of firing former FBI Director James Comey because of the latter's insistence on continuing to investigate Flynn. This theory has been somewhat supported by a controversial press conference which Trump gave shortly after he fired Flynn:
Mike Flynn is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. He is a man who there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence, who is with us today. And I was not happy with the way that information was given. He didn't have to do that, because what he did wasn't wrong. . . . And, you know, you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a, you know, fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats, and the press plays right into it.
Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC. MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa
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