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Published: Thursday, March 09, 2017 @ 1:17 PM
The White House on Thursday said President Donald Trump did not know that his first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was doing consulting work during the latter stages of the Presidential campaign on behalf of a group linked to the government of Turkey, netting Flynn more than a half million dollars in consultant fees, just before taking a job in the Trump White House.
"I don't believe that that was known," said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer of Flynn, when asked by reporters at a daily press briefing.
"I don't know what he discussed prior to being appointed in terms of his background, resume, client base," Spicer said of Flynn, who was forced to resign from the White House after four weeks, for misleading Vice President Mike Pence over contacts with the Russian Ambassador.
Legal filings made this week indicated that Flynn's company - Flynn Intel Group - was paid $530,000 total in three different payments by a Dutch company named Inovo BV, which is said to have close ties to the Turkish government.
In fact, the filing - with the Foreign Agent Registration Unit of the Justice Department - specifically said that Flynn's work "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey."
But the filing raised more questions, not only because it had been done retroactively, but also because the person who paid the money publicly disputed that it was for the Turkish Government.
Not only did he object on Twitter, but Ekim Alptekin told the Associated Press and other news organizations that he had been pressured by Justice Department officials to make the filing this week.
Part of the work that Flynn did was an opinion piece published by the Hill newspaper on Capitol Hill, titled "Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support."
The piece was dated November 8 - just hours before the votes would be counted, and Donald Trump would be elected President.
There was no notice in that piece that Flynn was behind paid for his work, which was focused on U.S.-Turkey relations.
The dates clearly show that Flynn was working as a "foreign agent" for Turkey during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign - after which he was named by the President as the next National Security Advisor.
It was not clear whether Flynn ever informed Mr. Trump about the ties to Turkey; the White House said Flynn was a "private citizen" at the time, and not subject to any work limitations.