- Rep. Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, attended a breakfast meeting where Michael Flynn and Turkey’s foreign minister were also present.
- The breakfast took place just before President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
- A report Friday indicated that special counsel Robert Mueller is scrutinizing Flynn’s dealings with the Turkish government.
Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, attended a breakfast meeting in January that then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also attended.
The breakfast event, held on Wednesday, January 18, was closed to the press, and it is still unclear exactly what was discussed.
The Washington correspondent for the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, which tends to be pro-government, reported at the time that an aide to Cavusoglu said he “was the only foreign leader at the breakfast and the topics on the US-Turkish agenda were discussed by the attendees.”
The paper obtained the invitation letter for the breakfast, which said it would “be a small event for about 50-60 guests. It also said White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus might join the meeting.”
Nunes’ spokesman, who did not return a request for comment on Friday, issued a previous statement downplaying the importance of the breakfast.
“Chairman Nunes was a speaker at that event, but it was a large breakfast event, not a small, private meeting as described in that article,” the spokesman, Jack Langer, told the fact-checking website Snopes earlier this year.
“Mr. Cavusoglu was one of about 40 attendees at the event, which included 20-30 ambassadors to the U.S. and about 10 other foreign dignitaries and officials. The attendees heard some remarks from Flynn, Chairman Nunes, and other representatives on national security issues — the discussion topic was not Turkey or any other single country … if [Nunes did speak to Cavusoglu], it would have been among all the other ambassadors and officials at the event. There was no separate, private meeting.”
Nunes’ attendance at the event is newly relevant amid revelations that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a meeting another congressman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, took with Flynn in September. Flynn had begun lobbying on behalf of Turkish government interests one month earlier, in August.
New scrutiny of Flynn’s dealings with Turkey
That lobbying work continued into the presidential transition and through December, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal. Mueller is scrutinizing an alleged plot involving Flynn that would have returned an exiled Turkish cleric to the country.
It is unclear whether Flynn was still being paid to lobby for Turkish government interests by the time he attended the breakfast meeting on January 18.
But on January 10, Flynn reportedly met with then-national security adviser Susan Rice and asked her to hold off on implementing an anti-ISIS plan that would involve arming the Syrian Kurds. The Turkish government is vehemently opposed to any plan that would empower the Kurds, whom Ankara views as a threat to Turkey’s sovereignty.
Nunes, meanwhile, has been at the center of a series of controversies since the House Intelligence Committee began investigating Russia’s election interference.
The California Republican stepped aside from the Russia investigation in early April following his decision to brief Trump and the press on classified intelligence — without telling his fellow committee members. But he quickly began conducting his own investigation into “unmaskings” by the Obama administration and the credibility of the dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russia.
In June, Nunes angered the Democrats when he demanded more details from the CIA, FBI, and NSA about why Obama administration officials requested the unmasking of Trump associates last year. He also threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray in contempt of Congress last month if they did not respond to a subpoena for documents relating to the Steele dossier.
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