According to NBC, Michael G. Flynn, the son of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn Sr., is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, who sourced their breaking story to four current and former government officials.
The inquiry into Flynn Jr. is focused at least in part on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, according to three of the officials NBC spoke to. It’s unclear when the focus on the younger Flynn began.
Barry Coburn, Michael G. Flynn’s legal counsel, told NBC that he could not comment on the matter.
Flynn’s status as a subject of the Russia investigation widens the publicly known scope of the probe as most speculation has surrounded around former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former foreign policy adviser Carter Page, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr., and former national security adviser, Michael Flynn Sr.
The younger Flynn worked closely with his father, whose connections to foreign governments, including Russia and Turkey, have been a subject of federal and congressional investigations. Earlier today we reported on a new development in the mapping of Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia.
One of these connections was the former General’s attendance and paid speech at a gala hosted for the Russian state-owned television network, RT. Michael G. Flynn accompanied his father on this December 2015 trip to Moscow. RT also paid for Flynn and his son’s airfare to Moscow and lodging at a luxury hotel from Dec. 9 to Dec. 12.
Flynn Intel Group, of which Michael G. Flynn is a partner, was also was paid $530,000 in 2016 for work the Justice Department claimed benefited the government of Turkey. FARA, the Foreign Agents Registration Act, makes it illegal to work on behalf of a foreign government without first registering as a “foreign agent.” Neither Flynn nor the Flynn Intel Group registered as a foreign lobbyist at the time, but they have since done so, filing retroactively. According to his filing, Flynn was hired by a Turkish businessman to gather information about Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric residing in Pennsylvania whom the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating an attempted coup there in July 2016.
A former business associate of Michael Flynn’s told NBC that the younger Flynn had a heavy hand in the day-to-day operations of Flynn Intel Group and served as his father’s chief of staff. Those responsibilities reportedly included attending meetings with his father and communicating with prospective clients.
Several legal experts with knowledge of the investigation have told NBC News they believe Mueller, following a classic prosecutorial playbook, is seeking to compel key witnesses, including Flynn and Manafort, to give up what they know about any possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia. Mueller has brought onto his team a federal prosecutor known for convincing subjects to turn on associates. Any potential criminal liability for Michael G. Flynn could put added pressure on his father, these legal experts said.
“Any time a family member is identified as a subject that does increase pressure,” said Peter Smith, a former federal prosecutor. “In the typical parent-child relationship the last thing any parent would want is for their child to get in trouble for something they initiated.”
This chain of events would fit with Mueller’s previous experience prosecuting the corporate energy giant, Enron, in what was then the largest corporate bankruptcy in American history. Mueller and the Enron Task Force, an elite team of F.B.I. agents and federal prosecutors utilized leverage of criminal charges to flip lower level employees to build cases on the top bad actors. Their aggressive tactics, which included threatening to charge executive’s spouses, garnered a great deal of attention at the time.
According to CNN, the elder Flynn is under scrutiny by Mueller on several different fronts, including his links to Russia, his calls to the Russian ambassador during the transition period, and the undisclosed lobbying he did for Turkey last year. Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas in the spring as part of his investigation into Flynn’s dealings.
The former General remains in deep legal jeopardy under both federal disclosure laws, including security clearance violations, and making false statements to federal authorities, including the FBI. Flynn may have violated federal law on multiple fronts in his actions taken to further the nuclear partnership deal. Specifically, by failing to disclose a trip he took to the Middle East in June 2015 where he met with foreign government officials on his SF-86 security clearance form, Flynn may have violated 18 U.S. Code § 1001, which makes giving false statements to federal authorities a felony punishable by five years in prison. Flynn may have also lied to the FBI in an interview back in February.
Flynn Sr. has already offered to testify in exchange for immunity to congressional investigatory committees as far back as March.
According to NBC, the younger Flynn, 34, has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and an associate degree in golf course management. He is married, has one son and lives in Northern Virginia. He worked for a golf company and then a healthcare management firm between 2008 and 2015, and since 2014 has worked for the Flynn Intel Group, according to LinkedIn. He was a registered Republican in Charlotte, N.C., from 2004 to 2008, according to public records.
The younger Flynn was also a controversial figure during the presidential campaign and during the Trump transition, known for writing inflammatory comments on Twitter and circulating conspiracy theories.
In particular, he perpetuated a so-called “pizzagate” conspiracy theory that surfaced in the days before the November election alleging Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had used the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington to run a child sex-trafficking operation. About a month later, in December 2016, a North Carolina man fired gunshots in the pizzeria allegedly in response to the false “pizzagate” story. At the time, Flynn wrote on Twitter: “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story.”
However, his public Twitter comments may now come back to bite him. Flynn Jr. has previously expressed support for the FBI on social media, declaring on Twitter, “I still have faith in the @FBI,” “FBI IS NOT BIAS,” and later, “FBI IS NOT PARTISAN.” We will find out if he still thinks this is the case.
Update – 7:21 PM:
Michael G. Flynn has taken to Twitter to express his thoughts on the news, mocking the charges and calling them a”nothingburger.”
• Michael G. Flynn, the son of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn Sr., is now a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. The inquiry into Flynn Jr. is focused at least in part on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group.
• Mueller’s team may aim to use the threat of charges against the younger Flynn as an incentive for Flynn Sr. to “flip,” offering up helpful testimony against other targets of the investigation. Several legal experts with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News they believe Mueller is doing so, following the classic prosecutorial playbook. Mueller has already brought onto his team a federal prosecutor known for convincing subjects to turn on associates.
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