WASHINGTON — Former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn is facing new questions about a 2015 trip he took to the Middle East as part of a private proposal to build nuclear power plants across the region.
Two top Democrats said in a letter released Wednesday that he appeared to have violated federal law by failing to report the trip when he renewed his security clearance last year. The lawmakers — Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York — also said documents turned over to their staff suggested that Flynn also failed to report contacts with Israeli and Egyptian government officials.
The information released by the lawmakers was fresh evidence that Flynn didn’t fully account for his foreign contacts and business entanglements even though he was liable for possible federal criminal penalties for lying or omitting such information. Security clearance questionnaires specifically ask applicants to report any meetings abroad or contacts with foreign government officials that occurred in the previous seven years. As a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Flynn maintained a security clearance. His last renewal was in early 2016.
Flynn has been dogged by questions about his lack of disclosure of a Turkish lobbying operation and of foreign payments he accepted after leaving the military in 2014. Flynn also was forced to resign his Trump administration post in February after White House officials determined that he had misled them about the nature of diplomatic conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is scrutinizing Flynn’s foreign interactions as part of his probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and any possible coordination with Trump associates. Earlier this year, that investigation incorporated an ongoing federal probe into Flynn’s Turkish lobbying.
On Wednesday, a professional editor who performed contract work for Flynn’s now-defunct consulting firm said that he was questioned Tuesday by FBI agents. Editor Hank Cox said the agents’ questions centered on the roles played by Flynn and his business partner, Bijan R. Kian, in the development of an op-ed that ran in November under Flynn’s name in The Hill, a Washington political newspaper.
The op-ed praised Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and urged the extradition from the U.S. of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric whom Erdogan has accused of involvement in last year’s aborted military coup in Turkey. The op-ed published on Election Day quickly prompted a Justice Department inquiry that resulted in Flynn acknowledging in March that the work may have aided the interests of Turkey’s government.