US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible ties between the Trump election campaign and Russia, is expanding his probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Reuters reported on Friday.
According to Reuters, the move means Mueller’s politically charged inquiry will now look into Flynn’s links with a Turkish businessman who paid Flynn over a half million dollars as a lobbyist in 2016.
As part of a criminal probe in Virginia, Federal prosecutors are investigating a deal between Flynn and Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, a supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and head of a Netherlands-based consulting firm called Inovo BV, as well as chairman of the Turkey-US Business Council, Reuters said.
Alptekin’s company paid Flynn’s consulting firm $530,000 between September and November of 2016 to produce a documentary and research on US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government and President Erdoğan blame for a failed coup last July.
Declining to comment when asked about the investigation into Flynn, Alptekin told Reuters he hired Flynn to provide research on how Gülen is “poisoning the atmosphere” between Turkey and the United States.
Despite Gülen having denied any role in the coup and dismissing Turkey’s allegations that he heads a terrorist organization, over 104,000 people have been detained and more than 138,000 sacked from state jobs due to their links to the movement.
According a story in The Wall Street Journal on May 31, Flynn’s lobbying firm produced an unfinished documentary last fall to boost Turkey’s image and defame Gülen following the failed military coup.
The work done on the documentary by Flynn’s firm reportedly took place while Flynn was campaigning on behalf of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The sponsor of the film paid Flynn’s consulting firm $530,000 for their lobbying work, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Flynn is under congressional, federal, and military investigation for allegations that he illegally withheld his financial ties to the Kremlin and Turkey, which stood the risk of influencing him while he served in the White House. He resigned from his top post as national security adviser earlier this year after it became known he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with a top Russian diplomat.