The bombshell accusations, which were first reported by McClatchy D.C. Bureau and The New York Times, give more detail as to what went on behind the scenes at the White House prior to Flynn being fired by Trump less than one month after taking office.
Flynn is accused in the articles of working to assist the Turkish government and being paid handsomely by it to do so. He reportedly made at least one decision on a military operation against the Islamic State, which were in line with Turkey’s desires.
Here’s what you need to know about Flynn and his relationship with Turkey:
1. Flynn Made a National Security Decision to ‘Conform to the Wishes of Turkey’
One of the first decisions the Trump administration made in the fight against the Islamic State was reportedly made by Flynn a few weeks before he was out of a job.
According to a report by McClatchy on May 17, Flynn had been paid over $500,000 to represent Turkey in his role in the administration. The military decision Flynn made was 10 days before Trump was sworn in as the 45th president.
Flynn reportedly had a conversation with President Barack Obama‘s National Security Adviser Susan Rice about future military initiatives and the status of operations. In that conversation, Rice informed Flynn of the plan the Pentagon had hatched to retake Raqqa, the self-proclaimed “capital” of ISIS. The plan was to retake the city with Syrian-Kurdish forces; ones that U.S. intelligence showed were its “most effective military partners” in its long battle against the terrorist group.
Obama’s national security team had asked the Trump administration to sign off on the order to launch the offensive against ISIS, thinking that it was certain to happen as soon as he took office.
But timelines that were supplied to members of Congress of Flynn’s past showed that he told Rice he wanted to hold off on doing so, which delayed the operation in Raqqa for quite some time.
It’s currently unclear the reason that Flynn gave for holding off on the operation — if there was one — despite being urged to do so. But that decision was in line with the aspirations of the Turkish government.
Trump eventually made the approval of the plan, but it didn’t occur until Flynn was out of a job.
Turkey President Tayyip Erdoğan has been outspoken about arming and working with Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIS. The government believes the groups that the U.S. has chosen to collaborate with have ties to terrorist groups themselves.
2. Flynn Reportedly Told Trump He Was Under Investigation Before Being Hired
A report by The New York Times on Wednesday said that Flynn informed the Trump administration that he was in the middle of being investigated for being a paid lobbyist for Turkey “weeks before his inauguration.”
The Times wrote that the warning came about one month after Flynn was told by the Department of Justice that he was the subject of the investigation, and Trump hired him as the national security adviser despite that.
Flynn disclosed himself as having potential ties to Turkey in a declaration he made to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Unit in early March.
The paperwork Flynn filed said that he was given $530,000 for work that could possibly “be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” He wrote that the contract and relations between the two sides ended in November 2016.
Read the eight-page document filed with the government below:
Under U.S. law — the Foreign Agent Registration Act — any citizen of the country who lobbies for a foreign government has to disclose their work to the Justice Department within 10 days of doing so.
Flynn’s filing showed that he set up a meeting with Turkey foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and others in New York in September 2016. He signed a contract to work with Alptekin’s firm August 9 after reportedly sitting in on classified briefings over the summer and in the fall with then-candidate Trump.
Trump received his first classified briefing August 17 with Flynn in the room.
3. Flynn Allegedly Told the White House In January of the Investigation
Sources told The Times that Flynn informed White House counsel Don McGahn — who was the transition team’s lawyer at the time — that he was under investigation, but they continued to move forward with his hiring.
Fynn’s conversation with McGahn and a subsequent one just two days later gives merit to the allegations that Trump knew about the investigation of Flynn much earlier than what was reported in the past.
On the day of the presidential election, Flynn wrote an op-ed piece in The Hill that said Turkey needs the Unite States’ support. He advocated for improving relationships with the country.
That article raised eyebrows and suspicion that he had been paid by the government to do so. The Times sources a letter written to Flynn on November 30 that showed the Justice Department was starting to look into his foreign lobbying work. Just a few weeks later, Flynn hired a lawyer.
On January 4, Flynn was informed he was under investigation. That’s the same day he came forward to McGahn to tell him about the matter.
Shortly after that, the F.B.I. started investigating Flynn for his ties with Russia.
4. There Are Reportedly Talks of ‘Treason’ With Some Lawmakers
The report by McClatchy says that some members of Congress have been talking about the legal ramifications that Flynn faces if the allegations are proven true.
Some of them cite Flynn’s conversation with Rice and his ties to Turkey “as perhaps the most serious.”
That’s because, if the reports are true, he was acting in favor of a foreign nation while receiving cash bribes to do so. Some members of Congress have apparently thrown around the word “treason” in private conversations, the article said.
By definition, treason means to levy war against the U.S. or adhere to its enemies when you owe allegiance to the U.S. Committing treason is punishable by death, or a minimum five years imprisonment along with a minimum fine of $10,000. The person found guilty of doing so is “incapable of holding any office under the U.S.”
5. Trump Tried to Get the FBI to Drop Its Investigation of Flynn
One of those times was when he penned a memo about a meeting the two had at the White House. Comey wrote that Trump asked him to drop the FBI’s investigation of Flynn.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump said to Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Trump fired Comey on May 9, just one day before he gave information deemed classified about ISIS to Russian officials when they met at the Oval Office.