Federal investigators are examining whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn was secretly paid by the Turkish government to lobby against a critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to a report from The New York Times.
Investigators probing President Donald Trump's team for possible connections to Russian Federation have asked the White House to hand over records for what is believed to be the first time, the New York Times said Friday.
They are said to have questioned witnesses about his dealings with Turkish-American lobbyist Ekim Alptekin, who paid his consulting firm Flynn Intel Group $530,000 during the USA election past year.
Witnesses have been questioned about possible secret payments from the Turkish government to Flynn, according to the report.
Taking money from Turkey or any foreign government is not illegal. And while the special prosecutor's request for documents from the White House didn't come in the form of a formal subpoena, it's "first known instance" of Mueller requesting any records whatsoever from the Trump administration.
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Their fears were inevitably realized, and now the Russian Federation scandal has reached all the way to the president himself. "I wasn't involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the president", Sekulow told CNN's Chris Cuomo last month.
Witnesses interviewed by Mr Mueller's team claim two $40,000 payments from Flynn Intel Group to Inovo are being investigated as suspected bribes to Mr Alptekin.
Flynn declined to comment for the Times report, while Trump's special counsel Ty Cobb told the newspaper, "We've said before we're collaborating with the special counsel on an ongoing basis". But failing to register as a foreign agent is a felony, and trying to hide the source of the money by routing it through a private company or some other entity, and then paying kickbacks to the middleman, could lead to numerous criminal charges, including fraud.
It's also an indication that despite President Donald Trump's repeated statements warning Mueller not to investigate his finances or those of his family and associates, the investigation is including a close examination of financial dealings.
Bharara was sacked by President Trump in March, even though Bharara said Trump invited him, shortly after the November 2016 election, to stay on.