In sign of investigations breadth, special counsel Robert Mueller to consider questions over ex-national security consultants work for Turkish businessman
A grand jury investigation into Michael Flynns foreign lobbying will be included in special advise Robert Muellers scrutiny of possible collusion between Donald Trumps associates and Russia, it was reported on Friday.
It emerged last month that a grand jury in northern Virginia is analyse former national security advisers work on behalf of a Turkish entrepreneur and has issued subpoenas to businesses that worked with him.
The findings will become part of Muellers investigation, Reuters reported on Friday , an early show of the extent of his reach as special counsel.
Later on Friday, the Associated Press reported that Mueller has also assumed oversight of an ongoing investigation involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was forced to resign in August 2016 amid topics over his past business dealings in Ukraine.
Flynn set up an intelligence consultancy in Alexandria, Virginia, after Barack Obama fired him as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.
Among his bargains under scrutiny is one with Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish industrialist whose company, the Netherlands-based Inovo BV, paid Flynns consultancy $ 530,000 to produce a documentary and research on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish clergyman living in exile in a small Pennsylvania town.
Recep Tayyip Erdoan, the president of Turkey, blames Gulen for a failed takeover last July, an allegation that Gulen denies.
Alptekin, chairman of the Turkey-US Business Council, told Reuters he had hired Flynn to provide research on how Gulen was poisoning the ambiance between Turkey and the US. The fee given to Flynns company arrived largely from his personal monies, he added.
The grand jury in Virginia has issued subpoenas to some of Flynns business associates involved in the work for Inovo, Reuters told. The subpoena seen by the agency tries bank records, documents and communications related to Flynn, his company, Flynn Intel Group, Alptekin and Inovo.
Flynns work for Inovo came under scrutiny after he published a commentary on a political news website calling Gulen a revolutionary Islamist who should be extradited to Turkey.
The House of Representatives intelligence committee, also investigating Russian interference in the election, subpoenaed records from Flynn on Wednesday. The Senate intelligence committee has served subpoenas on Flynn and two of his businesses, and this week Flynn indicated that he would start turning over relevant materials.
The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, appointed Mueller, a former FBI director, on 17 May to oversee an investigation into any ties between Russia and individuals associated with the Trump campaign ahead of last Novembers presidential election. This followed Trumps decision to fire James Comey as director of the FBI.
Comey will testify next Thursday before the Senate intelligence committee in both an open conference and behind closed- door, another potential political minefield for Trump.
In theory, the president could seek to invoked executive privilege in an attempt to block Comey from testifying , albeit at the risk of huge political blowback. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told: That committee hearing was just noticed and I think, obviously, its got to be reviewed.
A reporter interjected: Thats not a no! Spicer responded: I was just saying, literally, my understanding is the date for that hearing was merely set. I have not spoken to counsel yet. I dont know how theyre going to respond.
Spicer repeatedly parried questions about Trump and Russia, insisting that from now on he would now concentrate on the presidents agenda and refer all such inquiries to legal counsel.
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