Despite resigning in February amid increased scrutiny about his relationship to Russia, a deputy of former national security adviser Michael Flynn continued to push the latter's Middle East nuclear power plant deal until at least July.
As first revealed by the Wall Street Journal in September, Flynn's ambitious plan involved building a number of American nuclear power plants throughout the Middle East, ostensibly in the interest of national security because they would "show strength" in the face of Iran.
"The sprawling construction project was valued at hundreds of billions of dollars and described as a Marshall Plan for the region, according to the people familiar with it," the Journal's September report read.
As a report published in the Journal on Tuesday reveals, retired Army Col. Derek Harvey, who was hired by Flynn and served as President Donald Trump's top Middle East adviser, kept the shady nuclear deal alive until his own ouster in July.
Harvey reportedly said during a National Security Council meeting during the Trump administration's first week that Flynn directed him to "take the lead" on a plan to "develop a regional economic and energy plan for the Middle East" -- despite there already being an NSC office that handled such issues.
During the first weeks of the administration, Harvey also met with two private sector backers of the nuclear project. One of those backers, Robert “Bud” McFarlane who served as a national security adviser to President Reagan, emailed Harvey documents on ways to pitch the project to the president. Those pitches included presenting it as an economy-boosting venture backed by a number of retired military officers that Trump respects.
"Mr. Flynn forwarded Mr. McFarlane’s email to his staff with an instruction: Prepare a package for the president," the Journal's report notes. "Mr. Harvey told his staff to put the contents of the draft memo into an official 'cabinet memo' from the president. There is no indication such a memo ever went to Mr. Trump."
Soon after, however, NSC's lawyers "directed the council members to stop working on the project" because of Flynn's past as an adviser on the deal. They instructed Flynn not to attend a follow-up meeting with backers -- and Harvey went in his place.
"After Mr. Flynn was ousted," the report continues, "Mr. Harvey pushed NSC colleagues to continue working on the nuclear plan."
Upon being pushed out by Flynn's successor H.R. McMaster, Harvey returned to the staff of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the controversial leader of the House Intelligence Committee.