Special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into an alleged plot involving former national security adviser Michael Flynn to return a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. to Turkey, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
FBI agents have asked at least four people about a mid-December meeting in New York, in which Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., allegedly spoke with representatives of the Turkish government about removing cleric Fethullah Gulen from the U.S. in exchange for as much as $15 million.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Gulen of orchestrating a 2016 failed coup attempt and has urged the U.S. to extradite the cleric.
The December meeting was attended by former CIA Director James Woolsey, who has described the proposal to the Wall Street Journal as “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” Woolsey has said he attended at the request of an associate of Flynn and that he sought to notify then-Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenDems win from coast to coast Dems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell Dem ousts incumbent Republican in Manchester mayoral race MORE through a mutual friend.
It’s not clear how extensive Mueller’s investigation into the alleged plan is. But that the special counsel is looking into the allegations adds to the breadth of probe into Flynn, who has already come under scrutiny for work benefitting the Turkish government.
Mueller is conducting the criminal investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election. In particular, whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian representatives or operatives during the race.
But that probe has also expanded to include potential criminal activity not involving the campaign. Last week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was charged with money laundering and tax evasion stretching back years.
The individuals that described the alleged plan to remove Gulen to the Wall Street Journal did not attend the meeting in which the topic of purportedly discussed and were not directly told of the plot by Flynn or his associates.
Flynn has become a central figure in Mueller’s investigation. He was forced to resign from his White House job in February – just 24 days into his tenure – after it was revealed that he had lied to Vice President Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in the month before Trump took office.
Since then, however, he has faced scrutiny for his lobbying work on behalf of Turkish interests and for not disclosing financial ties to Turkey and Russia.