Special counsel Robert Mueller has requested the White House turn over documents concerning former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
“Though not a formal subpoena, the document request is the first known instance of Mr. Mueller’s team asking the White House to hand over records,” The New York Times reports, citing people close to the investigation.
The story by Times reporters Matthew Rosenberg, Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt also reports investigators “have questioned witnesses about whether [Flynn] was secretly paid by the Turkish government during the final months of the presidential campaign.”
Flynn’s consultancy, the Flynn Intel Group, was paid $530,000 to direct a “campaign discrediting an opponent of the Turkish government who has been accused of orchestrating last year’s failed coup in the country.”
The target of Flynn’s smear campaign was Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive cleric who lives in Pennsylvania. Former CIA Director James Woolsey said he attended a secret meeting in September with Mike Flynn to plan a covert kidnapping of Gulen.
The investigation is allegedly focused on whether the Turkish government was the source of the money and if Flynn’s company made kickbacks to Turkish-American businessman Ekim Allptekin for hiding the true source of the money.
Alptekin has coordinated Turkish lobbying in the U.S. with Dmitri “David” Zaikin, a former executive in Russian energy and mining companies.
Part of Flynn’s $530,000 contract was producing a propaganda film touting strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Dmitri “David” Zaikin is also tied up in the scandal.
“Zaikin has not been accused of any wrongdoing,” ProPublica reported. “Alptekin and Zaikin have denied knowing each other and say Zaikin had nothing to do with Flynn’s lobbying deal.”
“The line of questioning shows that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry has expanded into a full-fledged examination of Mr. Flynn’s financial dealings,” The Times concludes. “President Trump has publicly said Mr. Mueller should confine his investigation to the narrow issue of Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s presidential campaign, not conduct an expansive inquiry into the finances of Mr. Trump or his associates.”
The investigation isn’t only focused on the $530,000 payment, but also two payments that appear to be kickbacks.
“Mr. Mueller’s investigators have asked repeatedly about two payments of $40,000 each that the Flynn Intel Group made to Inovo, said witnesses who have been interviewed in the case,” The Times revealed. “The investigators have indicated that they suspect that the payments were kickbacks, and in one interview pointed to the suspicious timing of the transfers.”
One payment of $40,000 happened four days after Flynn’s company received $200,000 and the second $40,000 payment happened six days after Flynn’s company was paid $185,000.