Flynn lawyer denies reports of quid pro quo plan to deliver cleric to Turkey

Michael Flynn prior to a news conference in Washington in a file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Flynn lawyer denies reports of quid pro quo plan to deliver cleric to Turkey

WASHINGTON: The lawyer for former US national security adviser Michael Flynn has labeled as “outrageous” and “false” media reports suggesting his client may have been involved in an alleged plan to seize a Muslim cleric and deliver him to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars.
The rare statement from lawyer Robert Kelner came after the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating an alleged proposal under which Flynn and his son would receive up to $15 million for seizing Fethullah Gulen from his US home and delivering him to the Turkish government. The Journal cited people familiar with the investigation.
NBC also reported on Friday about an alleged December 2016 meeting, saying Mueller’s team was investigating whether Flynn met with senior Turkish officials in the weeks before President Donald Trump’s January 2017 inauguration about a possible quid pro quo in which Flynn would be paid to do the bidding of Turkey’s government while in office. NBC cited multiple people familiar with the probe.
“Out of respect for the process of the various investigations regarding the 2016 campaign, we have intentionally avoided responding to every rumor or allegation raised in the media,” Kelner said in an emailed statement.
“But today’s news cycle has brought allegations about Gen. Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: They are false.”
The Wall Street journal reported that the alleged plan involving Flynn and Turkish officials emerged during Mueller’s wider investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any collusion by the Trump campaign.
Flynn was fired by Trump after just 24 days in the job for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations with then Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak last year.
Barry Coburn, a lawyer for Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., declined to comment.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen of instigating a failed coup in July 2016 and wants him extradited to Turkey to face trial. Gulen has denied any role in the coup. A spokesman for Mueller’s team declined to comment on the report on Friday.
Flynn is a central figure in Mueller’s investigation because of conversations he had with Kislyak and because he waited until March to retroactively register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for work he did for a Turkish businessman.
The Journal reported that FBI agents asked at least four people about a December meeting in New York where Flynn and Turkish government representatives discussed removing Gulen, citing people with knowledge of the FBI’s inquiries.
NBC also reported that investigators had questioned witnesses about an alleged December meeting between Flynn and Turkish officials where Gulen was discussed. The group also discussed how to set free a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab. Zarrab is in prison in the US on federal charges that he helped Iran skirt US sanctions, NBC said.
A Reuters report on Oct. 26 said one of Flynn’s business associates, former CIA Director James Woolsey, pitched a $10 million contract to two Turkish businessmen to help discredit Gulen while Woolsey was an adviser to Trump’s election campaign.
Woolsey was a member of Flynn’s firm, the Flynn Intel Group, according to a Justice Department filing by the firm and an archive of the company’s website.
Mueller’s team has also interviewed White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, the highest-level Trump aide known to have spoken with investigators, CNN reported on Thursday.


British PM Theresa May dealt new Brexit defeat in upper house of parliament

Updated 2 min 57 sec ago
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British PM Theresa May dealt new Brexit defeat in upper house of parliament

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May was dealt a new defeat by Britain’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday over her Brexit plans, this time in a challenge to the government’s push to adopt wide-ranging powers to amend laws.
The defeat is the latest in the House of Lords for May and her Conservative government as parliament debates the EU withdrawal bill which will sever ties with the European Union and pave the way for Britain to leave in March next year.
The vote can be overturned by the lower house, the House of Commons, but underscores the deep divisions over Brexit across parliament and could encourage lawmakers hoping to derail May’s plans to forge a new relationship with the EU.
While many of the defeats were expected, it is the rifts over whether to remain in a customs union with the EU that have taken center stage. A new debate on this is scheduled in the Commons for Thursday, adding to the pressure on May.
After Wednesday’s defeat over plans to adopt the so-called Henry VIII powers, which are named after the 16th century monarch who ruled by proclamation but are seen as a power grab by opposition parties, the government was expected to offer peers some concessions on their more detailed objections.
“This House has a responsibility not to give the executive more power than is necessary,” Lord (Peter) Goldsmith told peers before they voted.
The Lords voted 349-221 in favor of an amendment to change the wording of the bill so that instead of ministers being able to use the Henry VIII powers where they consider it “appropriate,” they would have to prove it was “necessary.”
The government has said it needs the powers to be able to meet a tight deadline to effectively “copy and paste” EU rules and regulations into British law by the time of Brexit.
The defeats, while embarrassing, have so far failed to shake the government, but after being debated in the Lords, the bill will return to the Commons, where lawmakers will decide whether to keep the amendments or overturn them.
Earlier, Brexit minister David Davis told lawmakers he expected parliament to uphold the government’s policy “for good reason,” and again said that Britain would leave the EU’s customs union after Brexit in favor of a new trade agreement.