In order to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or fara, lobbyists working directly or indirectly on behalf of foreign governments must file paperwork with the Justice Department identifying themselves as “foreign agents.” After agreeing to work with Alptekin, Flynn and his colleagues initially considered doing this, according to a source who participated in the discussions, but they concluded that it wasn’t necessary, since Alptekin was not a Turkish official and the funds were not Turkish government funds. Instead, they filed with Congress, under the Lobbying Disclosures Act. Flynn was merely helping a businessman, they rationalized, and not acting as an agent of a foreign government.
But, last week, Flynn—who was forced to resign as Trump’s national-security adviser on February 13th—refiled his paperwork, to acknowledge that his work for Alptekin may, in fact, have benefitted the Turkish government. The disclosure put Flynn’s work with Alptekin in a new light, raising new questions about Flynn’s judgment—during both the campaign and his brief time in the Administration—and about the Administration’s handling of his entanglements.
Flynn’s work for Alptekin began in earnest in mid-September, when the businessman arranged a meeting in New York between Flynn and the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, at a New York hotel. Turkey’s energy minister, Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdoğan’s son-in-law, was there, too. On Flynn’s side, James Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A. and a member of Flynn Intel Group’s advisory board, attended, as did Brian McCauley, a former F.B.I. agent who worked closely with Flynn in Iraq. (Woolsey told me that he had only “perfunctory involvement” with the Flynn Intel Group and “received no compensation.”) Though the full breadth of the group’s conversation is not known, the same source told me that the Turks sought, among other things, Flynn’s assistance in maligning Fethullah Gülen, a self-exiled cleric who lives in Pennsylvania, whom Erdoğan blamed for the attempted coup. Subsequently, the Flynn Intel Group paid S.G.R., a lobbying and public-relations firm, forty thousand dollars to work on a project that included designing a graphic—“Gulenopoly”—characterizing Gülen as “the Mula Mullah” whose “clandestine” movement had “mastered the game of political and economic influence.”
You can read the rest at The New Yorker.