An alledged plot by Former White House National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., to abduct and deliver Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. to the Turkish government in exchange for up to $15 million dollars, is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller according to media reports. This is in addition to the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. elections, by special Counsel Robert Mueller. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly asked that Gulen be extradited to Turkey.
FBI agents have questioned at least four individuals about a meeting in December 2016, during the presidential transition, at the 21 Club in New York City, where Flynn met with representatives of the Turkish government.
That meeting was a follow-up to a secret Sept. 19 meeting attended by former CIA director James Woolsey, who said Flynn and others discussed “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.”
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan views the cleric as a political enemy and has asked the U.S. to extradite him.
Flynn is now facing military, congressional and criminal investigations into his financial ties to both Turkey and Russia.
Flynn lobbied on behalf of Turkish interests in the U.S. before joining the Trump administration but didn’t disclose the work until March, after he was forced out of the White House for misleading statements about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador about sanctions.
If proven, the alleged plan to abduct the cleric with the aid of foreign money directly violates US criminal code and could result in up to a 20-year sentence for the Flynns. Under the statute, both domestic abducting in violation of US law, and if it was a crime in Turkish law, both would be specific unlawful activities, so anyone who engages in the effort to bring money into the US for the purpose of abducting another violates the statute. That’s a 20-year felony.
If the cleric were to die once in Turkish hands, that could mean a life sentence for the pair.
Nick Akerman, a former assistant special prosecutor in the Watergate case, said Friday that former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s involvement in an alleged plot to forcibly return a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. to Turkey could warrant conspiracy charges.
In an appearance on MSNBC, Akerman said that the alleged extrajudicial plan to whisk Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey could signal an attempt to sidestep the normal extradition process.
“It’d be a conspiracy to defraud the government. I mean, normally under these circumstances, the Turkish government would have to go through an extradition process,” he said. “You have to go before a federal judge and submit papers actually showing what the crime is.”
Akerman said the alleged plan could violate a federal statute creating an offense of conspiracy to defraud the government – “conspiracy 371.” That includes an effort to “interfere or obstruct legitimate Government activity,” according to the Justice Department.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is also reportedly investigating a meeting between President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who has expressed pro-Russia views on a number of policies.
Mueller’s team is said to be looking at emails sent from Flynn’s lobbying group to Rohrabacher thanking the congressman for his role in the meeting.
NBC reported that the meeting between Flynn and the congressman took place in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20, 2016, while Flynn was working as an adviser to the Trump campaign. The meeting was reportedly organized by Flynn’s lobbying group the Flynn Intel Group, and was also attended by Flynn’s son Michael G. Flynn, as well as his business partners Bijan Kian and Brian McCauley.
Rohrabacher has shown sympathetic views toward Moscow in the past. It was revealed in October that the congressman even met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya two months after she met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016.
The congressman discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia in response to human rights abuses with Veselnitskaya.
Veselnitskaya lobbied against the punitive measure, known as the Magnitsky Act.
The elder Flynn departed his White House post in February after revelations surfaced that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.