The man at the center of the Russia probe

By Laurie Bennett

June 23, 2017 at 7:59am

The question on Washington’s lips: Has Michael Flynn flipped?

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) thinks so. “There’s a fairly good chance that Michael Flynn is already cooperating with the FBI,” Whitehouse said this week.

It’s still a reading of tea leaves, but the signs are there. The former national security adviser, normally outspoken, has gone silent.

He also has filled some of the holes in his government filings about contacts with foreign interests. In March, after his firing by the Trump administration, Flynn registered as a foreign agent, reporting that his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, was paid $530,000 to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of the Turkish government. He also reported receiving $45,000 for speaking at a 2015 event sponsored by RT, the Russian government news network.

On Monday, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and Eliot L. Engel, ranking Democrats on the House Government Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, requested documents from the consulting firm about a 2015 trip Flynn made to Saudi Arabia. Flynn failed to report the trip when he obtained renewal of his security clearance earlier this year.

Whitehouse suggested that if Flynn is cooperating in the federal probe of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, “it could be a huge deal, because who knows what Trump has said to him? Both during the campaign and during the early days of the presidency.”

Robert Mueller, the special counsel heading the federal investigation, reportedly also is looking into Flynn’s ties to Turkish businessman K. Ekim Alptekin, whose company, Inovo BV, paid Flynn’s consultancy $530,000 for research and a documentary on Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric living in Pennsyvlania.

Alptekin, as the interactive Muckety map above shows, is an ally of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who blames Gulen for a failed coup last year.

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