Yet another twist in the Michael Flynn drama: President Trump's transition team knew weeks before the inauguration that Flynn was under federal investigation for links to a foreign power, but that was no obstacle to his hiring as national security adviser, sources tell the New York Times. The insiders say Flynn told the transition team's chief lawyer on Jan. 4 that he had been secretly working as a lobbyist for Turkey while advising Trump on national security issues during his campaign. He was hired in August by a Turkish businessman. Trump campaign officials—and the Justice Department—became suspicious after Flynn wrote an Election Day op-ed in the Hill criticizing a foe of the Turkish government.
The Justice Department investigation of Flynn's Turkey links is separate from the FBI investigation of his ties to Russia, an investigation that President Trump allegedly asked former FBI chief James Comey to drop, Slate notes. Flynn was paid more than $500,000 for his work representing Turkish interests, and McClatchy reports that just 10 days into the Trump administration, Flynn rejected a plan that would have involved Kurdish forces helping to retake Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in Syria. The rejection, which was what Turkey wanted, halted an operation that had been months in the making. Trump revived the Raqqa plan weeks after Flynn was fired. (Flynn was warned about foreign payments years ago.)