Earlier this year, House Democrats accused retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn of secretly lobbying for a huge Middle East nuclear power deal while serving as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser. New details have emerged this week of just how far Flynn’s alleged lobbying effort might’ve gone.
Flynn, who was ousted from the White House in February for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., attempted to push a proposal for the nuclear power scheme ― linked to companies he had previously advised ― within days of taking office in Trump’s White House, reported The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Soon after Trump’s inauguration, Flynn received a memo from his former business associate Robert McFarlane, co-founder of the company IP3, about the plan, which envisioned a large consortium of countries, including the U.S. and Russia, building a fleet of nuclear reactors across the Middle East.
Flynn, who had served as an adviser to IP3 in 2016, reportedly told a staffer on the National Security Council to transform McFarlane’s memo into a policy directive for Trump to sign.
To promote such a plan “in the first week of the administration without any policy process made no sense,” a source familiar with the event told the Post. “It was a business proposal in the form of a policy paper.”
According to the Journal, Flynn also “talked favorably” about the proposed scheme ― dubbed by McFarlane as the “Marshall Plan for the Middle East” ― to Thomas Barrack Jr., a friend of Trump’s who served as chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. This discussion reportedly triggered several conversations about the deal between Barrack and White House officials including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
These conversations, however, are said to have amounted to nothing. There is also no sign that the policy memo was ever reviewed by Trump.
A White House spokesman told the Journal that “the White House and National Security Council have rigorous processes in place to ensure that all outside proposals are thoroughly evaluated for their potential legal and policy implications.”
HuffPost has reached out to the White House for comment.
In September, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote a letter expressing concern about Flynn’s close ties to the Middle East deal. They said Flynn had failed, in security clearance interviews, to disclose details of his work for IP3 and ACU Strategic Partners, a company that had paid Flynn to travel to Egypt and Israel in 2015 to promote a similar nuclear power deal. These omissions may have been violations of federal law, the Democrats noted.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating Flynn’s relationship with IP3 and ACU Strategic Partners, reported the Journal.
Flynn is also under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential race. Mueller is reportedly scrutinizing Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials during and after Trump’s presidential campaign, as well as his purported ties to and undisclosed payments from the Turkish government.
Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney who was fired by Trump, said Sunday that Flynn is “likely” cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
“My view is based on how things used to operate in my office and based on how the world works, [which] is that there’s a substantial likelihood that they’re at least in discussions with regard to cooperating,” Bharara told CNN.
ABC News reported this week that Flynn’s attorney had met with members of Mueller’s team.