Special Counsel Robert Mueller has gathered enough evidence to bring charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son, according to a report by NBC News on Sunday.
The report also says, however, that investigators are speaking to multiple witnesses in coming days to gain more information about Flynn’s lobbying work and whether he laundered money or lied to federal agents, sources told NBC.
Mueller’s team is reportedly examining whether Flynn attempted to orchestrate the removal of Turkish exile and Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen from Pennsylvania back to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars, two officials said.
The report follows charges against Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates for lobbying work they did before they joined the Trump campaign. The charges are related to money laundering, tax fraud, violating lobbyist regulations, and making false statements. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Mueller is also reportedly investigating the Podesta Group, Mercury Public Affairs LLC, and asking questions about Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates for their lobbying work for Manafort and Gates in 2012.
Sources told NBC that Flynn and his son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked closely with his father, could be indicted separately or at the same time. According to the report, if the elder Flynn is willing to cooperate with investigators in order to help his son, it could also change his own fate, potentially limiting any legal consequences.
A former senior law enforcement official told NBC that, in the weeks after Trump’s inauguration, the FBI was asked to conduct a new review of Turkey’s 2016 request to extradite Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has accused of plotting a coup against him.
The FBI pushed back against Turkey’s request since it had not supplied new information that could incriminate Gulen. NBC News said it was not clear who requested the FBI review.
One witness reportedly interviewed is former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, who told the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC that Flynn and Turkish officials discussed a potential plan to “forcibly remove Gulen” from the country in September 2016.
The Flynns’ involvement in the matter stems from work they did for the elder Flynn’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. Flynn was paid $530,000 in lobbying fees by the government of Turkey but did not register as a foreign lobbyist at the time and did so retroactively in 2017.
Flynn’s lawyer argues that Flynn didn’t need to register because his client was a Turkish businessman and not a government official but had opted to register later anyway. Flynn said he was hired to gather information about Gulen and to produce a short film about his findings.
The contract ended the day after Trump won the election. Officials told NBC that Flynn had at least one meeting in September 2016, and Woolsey said it included a discussion about kidnapping Gulen and flying him to Turkey.
The indictments have started coming as Republican lawmakers have begun aggressively seeking to limit Mueller’s probe, which they argue has dragged on for more than a year and not found any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.