This new story about Michael Flynn possibly negotiating to kidnap a legal American resident and exfiltrate him to Turkey is wild and really requires close attention. We had heard some time ago that this idea of kidnapping Fetullah Gulen had been discussed or perhaps hypothesized. But now we are hearing that Michael Flynn and perhaps his son were actively negotiating with Turkish interests about doing this during the transition.
The Wall Street Journal reports that a key meeting happened in December in which Flynn and his son were offered as much as $15 million for successfully exfiltrating Gulen into the hands of the Turkish government where he is seen as a top enemy of the state and accused with being the prime mover behind last year’s failed coup.
It’s important to be clear. What was being discussed here was simple kidnapping, not the government operating outside the rule of law but regular citizens kidnapping a legal resident of the United States and delivering him to a foreign government. This negotiation was happening in December, after Flynn had already been designated as President Trump’s national security advisor. If this was being discussed in December and the inauguration was January 20th, what jumps out to me is that it definitely seems like Flynn was planning on doing this and being paid for it while he was the President’s National Security Advisor working out of the White House. That’s not explicitly stated. But depending on the precise meaning of “mid-December” we’re only talking about 4 to 6 weeks. If it was only being discussed then or just in the early planning stages it’s hard to see how it could be finished up in such a short period of time.
I don’t know the law well enough to know how far along you need to get in discussions, how many overt acts you have to take before criminal conspiracy laws kick in. I suspect it’s pretty early. But there’s a difference between what is technically chargeable and what you’re at all likely to get a conviction on. But what you’re talking about here is a criminal act of far greater gravity than any of the specific potential charges we’ve heard to date, the kind of thing you could spend many years in prison for.