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WSJ: Mueller probing whether Flynn plotted to kidnap Muslim cleric for cash and ship him to Turkey
I'm not sure what this has to do with "collusion with Russia," which is what Robert Mueller is supposed to be investigating. But his marching orders permit him to investigate anything he turns up along the way, and if there's anything to this, it's a doozy:
Under the alleged proposal, Mr. Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million for delivering Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government, according to people with knowledge of discussions Mr. Flynn had with Turkish representatives. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has pressed the U.S. to extradite him, views the cleric as a political enemy.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have asked at least four individuals about a meeting in mid-December at the ‘21’ Club in New York City, where Mr. Flynn and representatives of the Turkish government discussed removing Mr. Gulen, according to people with knowledge of the FBI’s inquiries. The discussions allegedly involved the possibility of transporting Mr. Gulen on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali, according to one of the people who has spoken to the FBI.
The investigation is being handled by Mr. Mueller as part of his probe of Trump campaign advisers and Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to those familiar with the investigation.
A spokesman for Mr. Mueller declined to comment.
The people who described the alleged proposal said they didn’t attend the December meeting and didn’t have direct knowledge from Mr. Flynn or his associates about its purported details. It isn’t clear how advanced Mr. Mueller’s investigation of the alleged plan to remove Mr. Gulen is, nor is there any indication that any money changed hands, according to those familiar with the discussions and the FBI investigation.
Gulen is, to say the least, a complex figure. Erdogan accuses him of being behind a coup to oust the present Turkish regime. Gulen has lived in the U.S. for nearly 20 years and is alternately seen as either a "moderate" Muslim or as a radical Islamist. He appears to be one of those people whose thinking and philosophies don't fit neatly into any of the boxes with which we are normally familiar. Claire Berlinski wrote an excellent piece about him for City Journal if you really want to get a sense of the man.
But the most important thing to know is that he is under criminal charges in Turkey, and Erdogan wants him extradited from the United States. There has been some indication that the Trump Administration is considering the request, but we don't know that for sure and nothing has happened yet.
So with that as background, what about this allegation of the kidnapping plot?
My first instinct is to say that the mere suggestion is a long ways from actualy charges or proof, let alone a conviction. If someone approach Flynn or his son with such a proposition, that doesn't mean they acted on it or ever seriously considered doing so. Also, consider the timeline: It's December 2016, and Trump is president-elect, with Flynn in line for a major position within the White House. Why bribe Flynn to undertake a risky kidnapping operation when he'd be in a position just a month later to push for Gulen's extradition as a matter of policy?
This could be one of those things where someone tipped off an investigator that a conversation took place (or may have taken place), and the investigator is checking into it, but that's all there is. Yet if someone decides to blab it to the press, it now has the stench of scandal even if the actual truth doesn't come anywhere near that level.
Or, I suppose, there could be something to it. Flynn seems to have an uncomfortable relationship with good judgment at times, and Trump seems to like the guy but also realize he's a liability to have around because you never know what he's going to do.
I guess there's also this question: If someone did approach Flynn and his son to suggest such an arrangement, why did this person feel that was a safe thing to do? Does Flynn have a reputation for involvement in such operations? And if so, why?
I tend to think there is a lot that goes on that people at the highest levels of government know about, that would be shocking to the average person but is understandable if you know the full context of situations and the options available. Maybe Mike Flynn is the kind of guy who's knee deep in the middle of such stuff and has been for a long time.
Or maybe I've been watching too much 24.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!