White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that he did not know whether President Donald Trump had known that Mike Flynn worked as a foreign agent in a capacity that may have benefitted the Turkish government during the presidential campaign.
On Tuesday, Flynn and his firm registered with the Justice Department for $530,000 of lobbying work from August through November 2016 that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”
“I don’t believe that that was known,” Spicer told Fox News’ John Roberts during a press briefing, saying Roberts should talk to Flynn or the Department of Justice.
“Was the President aware that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was acting as a foreign agent when he appointed him to be the national security adviser?” Roberts had asked. He followed up: “Had the President had known that, would he have appointed him?”
“I don’t know, John, that’s a hypothetical I’m not prepared to ask,” Spicer replied. “I don’t know what he discussed prior to being appointed in terms of his background, his resume, his client base. I don’t know any of that. I know that from what I have read that he has filed the appropriate forms with the Department of Justice, and I think you should ask him and subsequently them if you have questions about the specific filing.”
Flynn was asked to resign on Feb. 13 after the Washington Post reported he had discussions about sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump was inaugurated.
The Daily Caller reported on Nov. 11, weeks before Flynn accepted a position as Trump’s national security adviser, that Flynn’s company, Flynn Intel Group, had accepted the Turkish businessman Kamil Ekim Alptekin’s company as a client.
Flynn Intel Group group was registered as a lobbyist at the time for Alptekin’s company, Inovo BV. The firm had registered for the first time as a lobbying entity in September, The Intercept reported.
However, an additional filing with the Justice Department is required if such lobbying benefits foreign governments or political interests.
Flynn had previously voiced support for Turkey’s strongman leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including on election night in an op-ed in The Hill.