By Allan Dodds Frank
Forget about the Russian investigation. It is the White House cover-up of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s criminal behavior that merits the full attention of the press, Congress and law enforcement.
The Flynn cover-up apparently was in full swing at the White House when Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Ca., brought his clown act to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to sprinkle the press with red herrings about surveillance of Trump Tower.
Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 30-year-old who worked with Gen. Flynn at the Defense Intelligence Agency and was brought by him to the National Security Council as a “Senior Director for Intelligence Programs”, has now been identified by the New York Times as one of Nunes’s two sources inside the White House.
This is the same man who President Trump saved – after appeals from Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner – from being dismissed by his direct boss, National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. The CIA also had been pushing for Cohen-Watnick’s ouster, according to a March 14 story from Politico.
Soon, it should be clear that there was only one reason Cohen-Watnick was combing through classified intelligence about Trump Tower surveillance. He undoubtedly was scouring the intelligence to see what evidence the government “collected incidentally” about Flynn’s illegal lobbying for Turkey. Part of that surveillance may also have covered any efforts by Flynn to influence Trump – or his Attorney General in waiting – Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
The Flynn Intel Group’s belated registration as a Foreign Agent for Turkey revealed that his real purpose was trying to convince the U.S. government to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric in exile in Pennsylvania, to satisfy demands from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Flynn, who got a $600,000 contract from his Turkish patron, reportedly also discussed with senior Turkish government officials the possibility of spiriting Gulen out of the country without proper extradition proceedings.
That bit of news was reported by the Wall Street Journal, which quoted former CIA Director James Woolsey, a Trump supporter and Flynn Intel Group associate, who was at the meeting between Flynn and Turkish government officials. Woolsey was appalled by what amounted to a discussion of a potential kidnapping. Through his spokesman, Flynn has denied discussing “any illegal actions, nonjudicial physical removal or any other such activities.”
So who do you believe? A former CIA Director or a rogue general who was fired as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency by President Obama and fired as National Security Advisor by President Trump three weeks after being appointed and before disclosing his need to register as a foreign agent for Turkey.
There also may have been some intercepts involving Flynn trying to discuss extraditing Gulen with Rex Tillerson or other candidates for Trump’s Secretary of State. According to wire reports, the Turkish Foreign Secretary raised the extradition matter with Tillerson this week and apparently complained about the federal criminal charges lodged recently in New York against the high-ranking Turkish banker. That defendant just happened to have added Trump confidante Rudolph Giuliani to his defense team.
The other possibility is that the surveillance also detected information relating to the Trump Organization’s business dealings in Turkey.
Given what the U.S. government already knew about Russian interference in the U.S. election, it would have been a huge abandonment of duty if U.S. intelligence agencies had failed to cover what was going on between foreign governments and the Trump campaign and its intelligence advisor Lt. Gen. Flynn.