President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign his post last month over his contacts with Russian operatives, has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before Election Day that may have aided the Turkish government.
According to documents filed with the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Unit on Tuesday, Flynn and his firm were registering for lobbying from August through November “to principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” The paperwork was filed by a lawyer on behalf of the former U.S. Army lieutenant general and intelligence chief, Business Insider reported.
Under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, U.S. citizens who lobby on behalf of foreign governments or political entities must disclose their work to the Justice Department. Failing to register is a felony.
Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish official who hired Flynn’s consulting firm told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the filings were made in response to pressure from Justice Department officials in recent weeks.
In a phone call from Istanbul, Alptekin told AP that he had set up the meeting between Flynn and the two officials. He said they met at an undisclosed hotel in New York. Alptekin said Flynn happened to be in New York while the Turkish officials were attending United Nations sessions and a separate conference that Alptekin had arranged.
“I asked one of Gen. Flynn’s staff if he was in town and would be available to meet and they got in touch with him,” said Alptekin, who owns several businesses in Turkey.
Among those officials, the documents said, were Turkey’s ministers of foreign affairs and energy. Flynn’s company did not name the officials but reported the two worked for Turkey’s government “to the best of Flynn Intel Group’s current understanding.”
Alptekin argues, however, that he did not agree with Flynn’s decision to file the registration documents with the Justice Department.
According to the filed documents, Flynn’s firm took on the Turkish-related lobbying work in August while he was a top Trump campaign surrogate. Flynn Intel disclosed in its filing that in mid-September, the company was invited by Alptekin to meet with Turkish officials in New York.
Flynn 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.
Flynn was forced to resign as a National Security Advisor last month for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
As a key member of Trump’s transition team last December, Flynn spoke by phone several times with Kislyak during the period when former President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. and levied new sanctions in response to Russian election-related hacking.