Donald Trump’s pick for national security advisor formed a business partnership this year with a Massachusetts man who was convicted of trying to sell stolen biotech materials to the Russian KGB intelligence agency.
Michael Flynn, a retired U.S. Army general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, owns a private consulting firm that works with cyber security companies and defense contractors, and the Flynn Intel Group collaborated last spring with Brainwave Science, reported Bloomberg.
Brainwave Science is trying to market a controversial technology called “brain fingerprinting” that uses brain scans to measure an interrogation subject’s honesty.
The Boston-based company has not yet sold its products to any federal agencies and is still seeking investors, and Flynn was invited to join its board of advisors to help sell the technology to defense and law enforcement agencies, the website reported.
Subu Kota — who pleaded guilty in 1996 to selling erythropoietin, or EPO, to an FBI agent posing as a Russian spy — serves on Brainwave’s board of directors.
EPO is a microorganism that stimulates the production of red blood cells and sold for $2,000 a dose at the time of Kota’s arrest.
Investigators found that Kota had met repeatedly with a KGB agent between 1985 and 1990 and was part of a spy ring that sold U.S. missile defense technology to Russian spies for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Undercover federal agents testified that Kota bragged of being involved in a KGB spy ring, but he denied those claims and reached a plea agreement in the biotech case.
As part of the plea deal, Kota admitted to selling a sketch of a military helicopter to another man who was later convicted of working for the KGB.
Flynn, who declined to comment on the Bloomberg report, has drawn criticism for his own ties to Russia, including meeting with and praising President Vladimir Putin and giving paid speeches in Moscow.
The retired general, who was fired by President Barack Obama as head of the intelligence agency over policy disagreements, “inappropriately shared” classified information with foreign military officers, according to a secret military investigation.
However, investigators concluded Flynn did not “knowingly” do so and did not harm national security.
He also continued to run a company that lobbied for foreign clients, even as he received classified intelligence briefings during Trump’s presidential campaign.
Flynn’s career shows “a pattern of egregious, unjustified security breaches,” according to a former National Security Agency lawyer, but he was apparently never punished for those.
Even so, Flynn frequently criticized Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state and led chants of “lock her up” at Trump rallies.
Flynn, who has tested the Brainwave product himself and found it “convincing,” met with company officials at least 10 times, including after he started receiving intelligence briefings through Trump’s campaign in mid-August.
He agreed to help Brainwave promote its products to federal agencies and train any of those that purchased the technology.
A spokesman for the Trump transition team said Flynn had never met or spoken to Kota and had ended his association with Brainwave Science — which hopes to continue working with other partners from the Flynn Intel Group.
Flynn, who spreads anti-Muslim conspiracy theories on social media and compared Islam to cancer in a book, met at Trump Tower several weeks ago with the leader of a far-right Austrian political party founded in the 1950s by ex-Nazis.