Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser who subsequently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, had a slew of previously unreported conflicts of interest, Bloomberg reported Monday.
Flynn’s previously reported conflicts were already damning: He lied to investigators about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador before Trump took office. He and his firm failed to register as foreign agents doing work that, Flynn’s attorney later admitted, “could be construed to have principally benefited the republic of Turkey.” Part of that work included an effort to smear — and possibly kidnap, though Flynn’s lawyer has denied that — Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of orchestrating the failed 2016 coup against him.
Flynn reportedly put on hold a plan to arm Kurdish forces in the fight against the Islamic State — a move beneficial to the Turkish government — 10 days before before Trump took office, when no one knew Flynn was working as an agent of the Turkish government. He also reportedly promoted a plan to build nuclear power plants across the Middle East in a June 2015 trip he failed to disclose.
Bloomberg on Monday reported on conflicts related to Iranian-born businessman Bijan Kian, who was a close business partner of Flynn’s until recently. Flynn’s relationship with Kian goes back to 2008, according to Bloomberg’s report. TPM has previously reported on the pair’s connection via the Nowruz Commission, which promotes and celebrates the Persian New Year. The commission also listed former CIA director Jim Woolsey as an ambassador.
In 2013, when Flynn was leading the Defense Intelligence Agency, Kian got Woolsey to set up a meeting between him and Flynn to promote his computer chip company, per the report. Afterward, Flynn tasked the DIA’s chief scientist to “help the chip maker pass military certification standards,” Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources Kian briefed.
After President Barack Obama fired Flynn in 2014, according to Bloomberg, Kian brought Flynn onto the board of his company, GreenZone Systems Inc. In 2015, GreenZone won a $1.1 million contract from the Defense Department’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, which works with the DIA (but does not report to it, as Bloomberg noted).
Later that year, on a previously-reported trip to Saudi Arabia where Flynn promoted nuclear reactors, he also attempted to sell Kian’s computer chip, according to Bloomberg. Flynn then lied about the trip on federal disclosure forms, according to the report.
A year after that trip, according to Bloomberg, Kian met with staffers from the House Homeland Security Committee in late 2016 to once again promote GreenZone products. He then changed topics suddenly, according to the report, and “abruptly ushered in another group with an entirely separate and unexpected agenda” — the demonization of Gulen, the Muslim cleric.
Finally, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources who worked on the 2016 presidential transition, that Kian and Flynn worked on a proposal to create an intelligence force of private contractors that would report directly to the national security adviser, circumventing the CIA. According to the report, Flynn was fired in February 2017 before he could “shepherd those plans into action.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee and perhaps the legislator most attentive to Flynn’s various business dealings and ethics violations, told Bloomberg News that the newly reported conflicts indicate “that General Flynn’s use of public positions for profit was far more wide-ranging than previously known.”
“We have been raising red flags and requesting documents about these issues for the past year,” Cummings told Bloomberg. “But the White House continues to stonewall us, and Republicans in Congress continue to wall off the White House from serious oversight.”