The investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia has now taken over a Virginia grand jury’s probe into Michael Flynn’s history with Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin. General Flynn resigned in February from his then-recent appointment as National Security Advisor after it came out that he’d been dishonest about phone calls with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. A month later, he was in hot water again with the Justice Department over lobbying work he did for Turkey in 2016, while the election was still ongoing. That lead to the current investigation by the grand jury, in which special counselor Robert Mueller is now involved.
Earlier this month, subpoenas were issued to some of Flynn’s colleagues at Inovo, the consulting firm through which Flynn worked with Alptekin. Reuters reports that the subpoenas were for bank records and documents that showed communication between Flynn, the company Flynn Intel Group, Alptekin, and Inovo. Now Mueller is pulling those findings into his investigation on the Trump administration’s ties to Russia.
That’s a separate investigation from the probe being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, which also saw fit to serve Flynn a subpoena earlier this week. There is also a third investigation by the Senate, which has issued Flynn subpoenas of its own. If this seems a little hard to keep track of, don’t fret. This was a week in which it seemed Washington was flat out flooded with subpoenas and biting accusations from all sides.
Also tied up in this is Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey earlier in May, ostensibly for the vague reasoning that he was unable to “effectively lead the bureau,” but more likely for his debunking of Trump’s wiretapping claims, investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, and his own status as a holdover from the Obama administration. That’s when Mueller, himself a former director of FBI, came into play, appointed by the Justice Department to continue their Russia probe.
Reaching even further back to last fall, Flynn’s Flynn Intel Group was engaged by Alptekin’s Inovo to research and develop a documentary on Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric who Turkey’s prime minister Tayipp Erdogan accused of staging a coup in the summer of 2016. For his part, Alptekin is loyal to Erdogan, and this is part of what got Flynn into trouble. The work amounted, as Reuters reports, to being “paid to represent Turkish interests during the election campaign.” Not only that, it wasn’t until much later that Flynn tried to register as a foreign agent, which essentially means disclosing work of even a vaguely political nature for a foreign entity to the U.S government.
Since then, things have only gotten worse for Flynn. There was the Kisylak revelation, the resignation, and then the slew of subpoenas. Flynn refused to cooperate with the Senate’s subpoena, citing the Fifth Amendment which precludes self-incrimination. It’s easy to see why there is not one, but four investigations right now into various aspects of Flynn’s foreign relations. The whole thing looks like a giant jigsaw puzzle, and the House, Senate, Justice Department, and FBI are all scrambling to put the pieces together.