Earlier this week, former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department for lobbying work linked to Turkey during the Trump campaign. The Foreign Agent Registration Act requires that U.S. citizens lobbying on behalf of foreign governments disclose their connections for some pretty obvious reasons. It is a standard practice in Washington, D.C. The fact that Flynn was the top national security adviser to a presidential candidate at the time he was simultaneously representing a foreign country—and en route to becoming the president’s National Security Adviser—is not so standard. Particularly, given the criticism of Trump team’s ties to Russia and beyond.
The logical next question is: Did President Trump and/or members of his team know that they had hired someone who was being paid to represent another country’s interests? The answer appears to be yes. The Associated Press reported Friday that Flynn’s attorneys twice disclosed his Turkish ties to the Trump team after the campaign was over and Flynn’s consulting work was completed. One disclosure occured during the transition and then another took place in the early days of the administration. At least one of those disclosures, during the transition, was to now-White House counsel Don McGahn. In both instances, the transition team and then the administration did not appear to take the issue seriously enough to take it to the president.
From the Washington Post:
Attorneys for Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, informed the incoming White House legal counsel during the transition that Flynn might need to register with the government as a foreign agent—a phone call that raised no alarms within Trump’s team, despite the unusual circumstance of having a top national security post filled by someone whose work may have benefited a foreign government.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer has repeatedly denied that the president had any knowledge of Flynn’s links to the Turkish government.