Special counsel Robert Mueller disclosed more details Tuesday of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s efforts to cover up the extent of his ties to the government of Turkey while he was a top official on President Donald Trump’s campaign and transition.
The documents specifically state that a key component of Flynn’s work for Turkey involved the government’s efforts to remove from the U.S. a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, of orchestrating a failed coup against him in July 2016. Flynn began working for Turkey about a month later.
Federal prosecutors said in the court filing, which refers to Gulen, though not by name, that Flynn’s decision not to disclose that he was aiding the Turkish government “impeded the ability of the public to learn about the Republic of Turkey’s efforts to influence public opinion about the failed coup, including its efforts to effectuate the removal of a person legally residing in the United States.”
Flynn’s false statements about his connections to Turkey were included in his plea agreement with Mueller announced in December 2017, but that document described the project simply as focused on U.S. companies’ confidence in doing business in Turkey
Tuesday’s filing, while more detailed, did not touch on some of the other possible ties between Flynn and Turkey that Mueller’s team has looked into, leaving it unclear what, if anything, further may be disclosed at a later time. NBC News reported, for instance, that Mueller’s team was looking into whether Flynn met with senior Turkish officials in December 2016 about a possible deal under which Flynn would be paid to orchestrate the return of Gulen to Turkey once in the White House.
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