Suddenly, a lot of the people who used to lampoon Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s eternal quest to get his hands on Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen no longer want to talk about it.
Similarly, that same cadre of prominent political and financial bloggers no longer seems particularly interested in taking anything more than a perfunctory approach to covering Reza Zarrab, the gold trader accused of evading U.S. sanctions on Iran with the help of high level Turkish officials possibly including Erdogan himself.
Those two stories – Erdogan’s enduring, and increasingly quixotic effort to get Gulen out of the U.S., and the figurative and literal trials and tribulations of Reza Zarrab – used to be a preoccupation for some members of the alt-Right underworld. But not so much anymore. And can you guess why?
Here’s a hint:
That’s former national security adviser and current man who doesn’t see what’s so goddamn funny about a looming indictment, Mike Flynn.
See as it turns out, Flynn is implicated in a Erdogan-backed plot to kidnap Gulen in exchange for $15 million and multiple reports suggest that Zarrab might have rolled on Flynn.
Well if Zarrab rolled on Flynn, that means Mueller might have ol’ Mike dead to rights and if he’s got Flynn senior dead to rights, that probably means he’s got Flynn Jr. dead to rights too.
That, in turn, suggests that Mueller is going to offer Flynn a deal that involves rolling on Trump (or someone close to Trump) in exchange for leniency with regard to his son. And indeed, The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Flynn’s lawyers have cut off ties with Trump’s lawyers which appears to indicate that he is indeed cooperating with the special counsel.
Meanwhile, Trump has been on the phone with Erodgan, purportedly about “peace in the middle east” and weapons shipments to the YPG.
Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey pic.twitter.com/9m4x8r9Pii
— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) November 25, 2017
Of course we all know what the conversation was really about:
TURKEY'S ERDOGAN SAID HE HAD 'PRODUCTIVE' CALL WITH TRUMP
"what do you want to do about this Flynn thing?"
— Walter White (@heisenbergrpt) November 24, 2017
For their part, Turkey has gone into full-on panic mode, launching a farcical “investigation” into Preet Bharara and prosecutor Joon H Kim, both of whom Erdogan swears are in cahoots with Gulen, who the Turkish president also blames for unearthing the evidence behind the Zarrab allegations.
We’ve documented all of this in a series of posts:
- A ‘Golden’ Opportunity: Mueller, Flynn, Trump And The Case Of Reza Zarrab
- Mueller Probing Flynn Plot To Kidnap Pennsylvania Cleric, Deliver Him To Turkey For $15 Million
- Roasted Turkey: Of Gold Traders, Runaway Inflation And Angry Autocrats Named Erdogan
- Panic Time! Turkey Launches Investigation Into Preet Bharara As Zarrab Debacle Spirals Out Of Control
Long story short, the writing is on the wall here. Mueller looks like he’s got Zarrab which in turn means he’s got Flynn. And now Flynn appears to be cooperating to save his son.
Well the Wall Street Journal is out with yet another piece on this. As a reminder, the Journal has been hot on the Flynn/Turkey trail all year long. It was WSJ (probably much to the chagrin of their editorial board) that broke the stories about the meetings where the Gulen kidnapping was discussed. Here are some excerpts from the Journal’s latest:
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn’s work on an unfinished film financed by Turkish interests as part of its wider probe into whether Mr. Flynn improperly concealed financial ties to Turkey and to Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is preparing to interview consultants hired by Mr. Flynn to work on a documentary film targeting an exiled Turkish cleric who Ankara accuses of trying to overthrow the country’s president, according to people familiar with the investigation. Details of the unfinished film project were first reported by The Wall Street Journal in May.
Yes, and that movie was part and parcel of Flynn’s work for Turkey while he was still a top adviser to Trump’s campaign, work that included a half-million dollar contract awarded to Flynn’s company by a businessman with ties to Erdogan.
The Journal continues:
Mr. Flynn and his business partner, Bijan Kian, hired consultants to create a film attacking the Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who has been accused of orchestrating a failed July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey from his home in rural Pennsylvania. Mr. Gulen has denied playing any role in the short-lived putsch.
Mr. Flynn’s consulting firm, the Flynn Intel Group, tried to conceal its role in the documentary, said David Enders, a Beirut-based freelance journalist hired to film interviews. Mr. Enders said that Mr. Kian told him that he didn’t want anyone to know who was behind the movie.
“He said: ‘We don’t want anyone to know the Flynn Intel Group has anything to do with this,’ ” Mr. Enders told the Journal in May.
Imagine that, right?
As for what all of this means for Trump, allow former Obama administration ethics chief Norman Eisen to explain in two tweets:
You’ve got to love this bit:
They are gonna have to start frisking Jared for a wire in the Oval.
As for Trump’s lawyers, they think it’s not quite time to panic. Here’s what Jay Sekulow told the Journal:
It was not unexpected to us that Gen. Flynn’s lawyers might be entering into discussions with the special counsel [about] potential pleas. No one should draw the conclusion from that that this means anything about Gen. Flynn cooperating against the president.
You buyin’ that?