Former CIA Director Claims Michael Flynn May Have Discussed Illegally Extraditing A Man To Turkey
Some unusual accusations have been lobbed at former Trump national security advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn.
Former CIA director, James Woolsey, claims that "while serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign, [Flynn] met with top Turkish government ministers and discussed removing a Muslim cleric from the U.S. and taking him to Turkey," according to The Wall Street Journal.
Woolsey arrived late to the September 19, 2016, meeting to which he was allegedly invited. Upon arriving, the former CIA director claims the group was floating "ideas about how to get Fethullah Gulen, a cleric whom Turkey has accused of orchestrating last summer’s failed military coup, to Turkey without going through the U.S. extradition legal process..."
WSJ notes that "it isn’t known who raised the idea or what Mr. Flynn concluded about it." Additionally, Flynn spokesman Price Floyd categorically denies any illegal tactics were discussed, saying:
"...at no time did Gen. Flynn discuss any illegal actions, nonjudicial physical removal or any other such activities."
Despite feeling uncomfortable with the discussion, Woolsey claims he didn't go public because nothing was made concrete – it was all in the air.
Also of note, the General's consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, was hired in August by Inovo BV, "a Dutch firm owned by Ekim Alptekin, the chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council," according to The New York Times. Alptekin allegedly has ties to Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Flynn did not register as a "foreign agent" because he was working for a company, not a government. However, on March 2, Flynn Intel Group filed as a foreign agent with the Justice Department, noting that their consulting work "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey."
According to WSJ, the filing claims that "Inovo hired Mr. Flynn on behalf of an Israeli company seeking to export natural gas to Turkey...and Mr. Alptekin wanted information on the U.S.-Turkey political climate to advise the gas company about its Turkish investments."
However, The New York Times seems to contradict Flynn Intel Group's stated goal (emphasis added):
Mr. Flynn signed a contract on Aug. 9 with Inovo...[the] firm was to receive $600,000 for 90 days of work. His initial registration as a lobbyist last year indicated he would receive less than $5,000 for lobbying, although that presumably indicates that he did not define most of the services he would provide Mr. Alptekin as lobbying under the law...
Mr. Flynn was assigned to investigate Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and was blamed by Mr. Erdogan for helping instigate the failed coup. Mr. Erdogan has demanded the United States extradite Mr. Gulen, which the Obama administration refused to do.
The contract ended prematurely, and the firm was paid approximately $530,000 instead of the previously stated $600,000. On election day, Flynn published an op-ed for The Hill in which he called Fethullah Gulen a "shady Islamic mullah," and said that while he "portrays himself as a moderate," he is not a moderate, but "a radical Islamist."
Set aside any perceptions about Fethullah Gulen. If it's indeed true that Michael Flynn even discussed extralegal, or illicit methods of delivering the cleric to Turkey, that's incredibly disturbing. Some have tried to hedge the news by claiming that merely speaking hypothetically about illegal activity isn't news. Please.
Let's put the shoe on the other foot. If an advisor to the Hillary Clinton campaign was allegedly lobbying on behalf of Turkey, and allegedly spoke with individuals about illegal means of extraditing someone from the United States, even hypothetically, it's unlikely that people would be so forgiving.
Add this tale to Flynn's misleading of Vice President Mike Pence regarding his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and one is forced to come to one of two conclusions: Either Michael Flynn is Barney Fifing his way through life, trying to do the right thing while naively bumbling his way into multiple dangerous situations, or he has been deliberately duplicitous.
Again, it must be stated that these are allegations, and there is no proof that Flynn discussed illegal activity, even hypothetically.
In the end, regardless of the conclusion to which one comes as it pertains to Flynn's actions, it seems a good thing that he was dismissed as President Trump's national security advisor.