Mar 10

Extreme Vetting: Only If You’re Muslim

Whenever you hear the Trump administration talk about immigration you hear the term “extreme vetting.” It’s nice to know that people wishing to emigrate here are checked to make sure, as best it can be done, they aren’t coming here to do harm. So far it, it seems, “extreme vetting” only applies of you’re Muslim fleeing from a war torn country. It doesn’t apply to who gets a national security clearance or a cabinet position in the Trump administration:

Former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn was paid more than $500,000 last fall as a foreign lobbyist to help the Turkish government discredit the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, according to lobbying disclosure forms that Flynn filed Tuesday with the Department of Justice.

The new documents reveal that Flynn was collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to run an information campaign against Gülen while he was campaigning for Donald Trump by attacking his Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton as a corrupt stooge of foreign governments. Following Trump’s surprise victory in November, the president-elect rewarded Flynn’s loyalty by naming the retired lieutenant general as his national security adviser.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was unaware of Flynn’s work on behalf of a foreign government when he decided to name Flynn his national security adviser. Spicer declined to say whether the president would have still hired Flynn if he had known. [..]

urkish authorities blame Gülen and his millions of followers for a failed coup in 2016 and have jailed thousands for alleged connections to the Pennsylvania-based cleric. The Turkish government wants the U.S. to arrest Gülen and extradite him to Turkey.

Over the three months of the contract, Flynn and his partners enlisted former FBI agents, psychiatrists, retired spies, cyber warriors and cameramen to help them “research” Gülen. The firm also hired Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, and paid him $4,000 for “administrative support” for the project.

Granted, it was Flynn’s ties to Russia that forced his resignation last month, not his work benefiting the government of Turkey’s autocratic president, Erdogan. But seriously, Trump didn’t know? Flynn had been Trump’s closest advisor for nearly two years. And it isn’t like they weren’t warned about this problem as early as November:

But Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent Pence a letter on November 18 requesting more information about the potential conflicts of interest posed by Flynn’s lobbying work.

Cummings sent the letter four days after both The Daily Caller and Politico reported that Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., had been hired to lobby for Turkish interests.

“Recent news reports have revealed that Lt. Gen. Flynn was receiving classified briefings during the presidential campaign while his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., was being paid to lobby the U.S. Government on behalf of a foreign government’s interests,” Cummings wrote.

“Lt. Gen. Flynn’s General Counsel and Principal, Robert Kelley, confirmed that they were hired by a foreign company to lobby for Turkish interests, stating: ‘They want to keep posted on what we all want to be informed of: the present situation, the transition between President Obama and President-Elect Trump.’ When asked whether the firm had been hired because of Lt. Gen. Flynn’s close ties to President-elect Trump, Mr. Kelley responded, ‘I hope so.'”

Pence’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Rep. Cummings told Business Insider through his office that he believes “the problems that have occurred with Lt. General Flynn” could have been avoided had Pence heeded his warnings.

It took Flynn until March 8 to finally file as a foreign agent

Paperwork filed Tuesday with the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Unit said Flynn and his firm were voluntarily registering for lobbying from August through November that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” It was filed by a lawyer on behalf of the former U.S. Army lieutenant general and intelligence chief.

After his firm’s work on behalf of a Turkish company was done, Flynn agreed not to lobby for five years after leaving government service and never to represent foreign governments. [..]

Under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, U.S. citizens who lobby on behalf of foreign government or political entities must disclose their work to the Justice Department. Willfully failing to register is a felony, though the Justice Department rarely files criminal charges in such cases. It routinely works with lobbying firms to get back in compliance with the law by registering and disclosing their work. [..]

Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., had previously disclosed to Congress that it worked for Inovo BV, a Dutch-based company owned by Alptekin. But neither Flynn nor his company had previously filed paperwork with the Justice Department, which requires more extensive transparency about work that benefits foreign governments and political interests.

In the filings with the Justice Department, Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, noted they served as a termination of the registration, saying the firm had ceased operations in November, the same month the lobbying contract ended.

Flynn had some of the highest security clearances there are next to those of the president, yet continued his clandestine contacts with Russian agents and taking money from a foreign country in violation of Foreign Agent Registration Act. Obviously, the Trump administration failed “bigly”” to vet Flynn at all, let alone “extremely.” This is the man who led he cheers to lock up Hillary Clinton. It’s Flynn who should be locked up.