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Flynn Breaks With Trump Team on Probe  11/24 06:29

   In a move that could signal cooperation with the government, lawyers for 
former national security adviser Michael Flynn have told President Donald 
Trump's legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about 
special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election 
interference.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a move that could signal cooperation with the 
government, lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have 
told President Donald Trump's legal team that they are no longer communicating 
with them about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian 
election interference.

   Flynn's legal team communicated the decision this week, said a person 
familiar with the move who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of 
anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

   The decision could be a sign that Flynn is moving to cooperate with 
Mueller's investigation or negotiate a deal for himself. In large criminal 
investigations, defense lawyers routinely share information with each other. 
But it can become unethical to continue such communication if one of the 
potential targets is looking to negotiate a deal with prosecutors.

   Robert Kelner, a lawyer for Flynn, didn't respond to a request for comment 
Thursday. A lawyer for Flynn's son, Michael Flynn Jr., who has also come under 
investigation from Mueller's team of prosecutors, declined to comment.

   The New York Times first reported the decision.

   Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser in February after 
White House officials concluded that he had misled them about the nature of his 
contacts during the transition period with the Russian ambassador to the United 
States.

   He was interviewed by the FBI in January about his communications with the 
ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. The deputy attorney general at the time, Sally 
Yates, soon advised White House officials that their public assertions that 
Flynn had not discussed sanctions with Kislyak were incorrect and that Flynn 
was therefore in a compromised position.

   Flynn was facing a Justice Department investigation over his foreign 
business dealings even before Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May 
to investigate potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to 
influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller has since inherited that 
investigation.

   Flynn, a prominent Trump backer on the campaign trail, has been a key figure 
in Mueller's probe and of particular interest to Trump. Former FBI Director 
James Comey, for instance, said that Trump encouraged him to end an FBI 
investigation into Flynn during a private Oval Office meeting in February.

   In addition to scrutinizing Flynn's contacts with Russia during the 
transition and campaign, Mueller has been investigating the retired U.S. Army 
lieutenant general's role in $530,000 worth of lobbying work his now-defunct 
firm performed for a Turkish businessman during the final months of the 2016 
presidential campaign.

   The lobbying campaign sought to gather derogatory information on Fethullah 
Gulen, a Turkish cleric and green-card holder living in Pennsylvania. Turkish 
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Gulen of being behind a botched coup 
and has sought his extradition. Gulen has denied the allegations, and U.S. 
officials have rebuffed Turkey's extradition demands, citing a lack of evidence.

   Flynn and his firm, Flynn Intel Group, carried out the lobbying and research 
work for several months, meeting with officials from the U.S. and Turkish 
governments. Flynn also published an op-ed on Election Day in The Hill 
newspaper, parroting many of the Turkish government's talking points about 
Gulen. At the time, neither Flynn nor his company was registered with the 
Justice Department to represent Turkish interests.

   Soon after the publication of the op-ed, the Justice Department began 
investigating Flynn's lobbying work, and in March, he registered with the 
department as a foreign agent. In federal filings, Flynn acknowledged the work 
could have benefited the government of Turkey.

   Since then, FBI agents working for Mueller have been investigating whether 
the Turkish government was directing the lobbying work and not a private 
company owned by a Turkish businessman, Ekim Alptekin, as Flynn's firm has 
contended. FBI agents have also been asking about Flynn's business partner, 
Bijan Kian, who served on Trump's presidential transition, and Flynn's son, 
Michael Flynn Jr., who worked for his father as part of the lobbying campaign. 
Flynn Jr. also was a near constant presence around his father during the Trump 
campaign and presidential transition period.

   Mueller announced his first charges in the investigation last month, 
including the guilty plea of a foreign-policy adviser to the campaign, George 
Papadopoulos, and the indictments of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and 
business associate Rick Gates.


(KA)

 
 
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