Before he was fired after just 24 days on the job, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn rejected a military plan seven months in the making to retake Raqqa, Syria, from the Islamic State, a plan that went against the wishes of Turkey — a country whose interests Flynn was being paid $530,000 to represent, McClatchy DC reported Wednesday night.
Flynn was told of the Pentagon's plan to use Syrian Kurdish forces to retake Raqqa by Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama's national security adviser, 10 days before President Trump's election, The Washington Post reported in early February. The U.S. sees the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds as strong military partners, but the Turkish government says they have ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which it views as a terrorist organization. A timeline recently passed out to members of Congress said that when Rice asked Trump to sign off on the plan, Flynn said to wait, and Flynn ultimately rejected the campaign, reports McClatchy's Vera Bergengruen. A few days after rejecting the plan, Flynn had a breakfast meeting with the Turkish foreign minister.
Until Flynn registered as a foreign agent in March, soon after he'd been ousted, few people knew that in August, Flynn, then Trump's primary foreign policy adviser, had signed a deal with a firm run by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin for work that "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey," as Flynn wrote in his paperwork for the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit. His contract ended in November — the same month the Justice Department notified Flynn he was under federal investigation for his undisclosed lobbying, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
On Aug. 9, Flynn signed on to work with Alptekin's firm, and on Aug. 18, he attended Trump's first classified intelligence briefing, McClatchy DC reports. Alptekin said Flynn was not "taking directions from anyone in the government," but Flynn's paperwork showed he met with Turkey's foreign minister and energy minister, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law, last September. Trump approved arming the Kurds to attack Raqqa a few weeks after Flynn was fired in February. The White House said in March that Trump did not know Flynn was paid to lobby on Turkey's behalf, but Flynn had notified the transition team on Jan. 4 about his federal investigation, according to the Times report. Read the entire McClatchy DC report here. Catherine Garcia