Special counsel Robert Mueller continues to expand his investigation into the current and former Trump administration members.
This week, Mueller impaneled a grand jury in a signal that he is expanding his investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia and Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Friday, the New York Times reported that Mueller has added another name to his list – former national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn.
It is not a formal subpoena, but Mueller has reportedly asked the White House to provide documents related to Flynn, and has asked witnesses whether the Turkish government secretly paid Flynn during the presidential campaign.
The New York Times reported that FBI agents and prosecutors have “spent hours” reviewing details regarding Flynn’s business connections with a Turkish-American businessman, Ekim Alptekin, who had dealings last year with Flynn and his consulting firm, the Flynn Intel Group. Flynn had reportedly signed a $600,000 deal on August 9 with Inovo BV, a dutch company owned by Alptekin.
Additionally, the Times reported that one of Flynn’s business partners was an Iranian-American businessman, Bijan R. Kian, who was director of the Export-Import Bank until 2011. Kian is the one who reportedly put together the contract with Mr. Alptekin.
The Flynn Intel Group was reportedly paid $530,000 for a marketing campaign against Fethullah Gulen, a man who had been accused of organizing the failed coup last year against the Turkish government. Gulen is described as a “reclusive cleric” and lives in rural Pennsylvania.
Mueller and his investigators are probing to find out if the payment to the Flynn group was from the Turkish government itself, and if kickbacks were given to Alptekin.
The New York Times noted that taking money from a foreign government is not illegal, but failing to register as a foreign agent is a felony, and “trying to hide the source of the money by routing it through a private company or some other entity, and then paying kickbacks to the middleman, could lead to numerous criminal charges, including fraud.”
Two payments of $40,000 each which the Flynn Intel Group made to Inovo are coming under scrutiny by Mueller’s investigators, as they are suspecting those payments were kickbacks, due to the “suspicious timing” of the transfers.
Mueller’s team has also asked questions surrounding Flynn receiving payments of over $65,000 for speeches he made for Russian companies in 2015.
Flynn resigned from the Trump administration in February.
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