Friday, March 10, 2017

Trump And Pence Deny They Knew About Flynn's Ties To Turkey

Amid stunning new revelations that National Security Advisor-reject Michael Flynn had undisclosed lobbying ties to a foreign government, Trump and Pence are also claiming that they had no idea of Flynn's lobbying efforts on behalf of Turkey.  Most observers consider that claim either a stunning lie or a de-facto admission of the incompetence of their vetting process for political appointees.

By last November, it was common knowledge within the close-knit DC political community that Flynn was lobbying on behalf of a company with ties to Turkey.  Casual observers should have suspected as much after he wrote an op-ed encouraging the new president to extradite a political opponent of Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan to Turkey.

Even though Trump was a newcomer to the political scene, it's not credible that he was not aware of Flynn's foreign lobbying.  Within a week of Flynn's op-ed, there was widespread reporting of his lobbying efforts on behalf of Turkey-- and these articles should have come to Trump's attention if his staff had done any basic background checking of potential appointees for Trump's administration. In addition, Flynn's lawyers told Trump's transition team before the inauguration that Flynn might need to register with the government as a foreign agent.

Pence has no such wiggle room or excuse for denying knowledge of Flynn's activities.  Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent Pence a letter on November 18 requesting more information about the potential conflicts of interest posed by Flynn's lobbying work.  Cummings sent the letter four days after both The Daily Caller and Politico reported that Flynn's consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., had been hired to lobby for Turkish interests.

If Trump is so interested in "extreme vetting" for immigrants, why not the same for the highest-ranking officials in our government?  If he is so obsessed with leaking and security of classified information, why isn't he paying more attention to ensuring that his closest advisors and officials have no secret ties to foreign governments (like Turkey or Russia)?  Unless of course, he's lying to us and he knew about Flynn's activities and didn't care.

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