Rep. Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence
Committee, attended a breakfast meeting where Michael Flynn and
Turkey’s foreign minister were also present.
The breakfast took place just before President
Donald Trump’s inauguration.
A report Friday indicated that special counsel Robert
Mueller is scrutinizing Flynn’s dealings with the Turkish
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee, attended a breakfast meeting in
January that then-incoming national security
adviser Michael Flynn and Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt
Çavuşoğlu also attended.
The breakfast event, held on Wednesday, January 18, was closed to
the press, and it is still unclear exactly what was discussed.
The Washington correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, which
tends to be pro-government, reported at the time that
an aide to Cavusoglu said he “was the only foreign leader at the
breakfast and the topics on the US-Turkish agenda were discussed
by the attendees.”
The paper obtained the invitation letter for the
breakfast, which said it would “be a small event for about 50-60
guests. It also said White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
might join the meeting.”
Nunes’ spokesman, who did not return a request for comment
on Friday, issued a previous statement downplaying the
importance of the breakfast.
“Chairman Nunes was a speaker at that event, but it was a
large breakfast event, not a small, private meeting as described
in that article,” the spokesman, Jack Langer, told the fact-checking website
Snopes earlier this year.
“Mr. Cavusoglu was one of about 40 attendees at the event,
which included 20-30 ambassadors to the U.S. and about 10 other
foreign dignitaries and officials. The attendees heard some
remarks from Flynn, Chairman Nunes, and other representatives on
national security issues — the discussion topic was not Turkey or
any other single country … if [Nunes did speak to Cavusoglu], it
would’ve been among all the other ambassadors and officials at
the event. There was no separate, private meeting.”
Nunes’ attendance at the event is newly relevant amid
special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a meeting another
congressman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, took with Flynn in
September. Flynn had begun lobbying on behalf of Turkish
government interests one month earlier, in August.
New scrutiny of Flynn’s dealings with Turkey
That lobbying work continued into the presidential transition and
through December, according to a new report in the Wall Street
Journal. Mueller is scrutinizing an alleged
plot involving Flynn that would have returned an exiled
Turkish cleric to the country.
It is unclear whether Flynn was still being paid to lobby
for Turkish government interests by the time he attended the
breakfast meeting on January 18.
But on January 10, Flynn reportedly met with
then-national security adviser Susan Rice and asked her to hold
off on implementing an anti-ISIS plan that would involve arming
the Syrian Kurds. The Turkish government is vehemently opposed to
any plan that would empower the Kurds, whom Ankara views as a
threat to Turkey’s sovereignty.
Nunes, meanwhile, has been at the center of a series of
controversies since the House Intelligence Committee began
investigating Russia’s election interference.
The California Republican stepped aside from the Russia
investigation in early April following his decision to brief
Trump and the press on classified intelligence — without telling
his fellow committee members. But he quickly began
conducting his own investigation
into “unmaskings” by
the Obama administration
credibility of the
alleging ties between President
Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia.
In June, Nunes angered the Democrats when he demanded
more details from the CIA, FBI, and NSA about
why Obama administration officials requested the unmasking
of Trump associates last year. He also threatened to
hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray
in contempt of Congress last month if they did not respond to a
subpoena for documents relating to the