President Donald Trump did not know that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who resigned in February, would likely have had to register as a foreign agent, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on March 10.
"I don't believe that that was known," Spicer said during a daily press briefing, when asked whether Trump knew that Flynn's lobbying on behalf of Turkey, which may have benefited the foreign government during Trump's presidential campaign, could have required him to declare himself a foreign agent, according to the Guardian.
However, Trump's transition team was aware of the possibility that Flynn could need to file the registration, one White House official familiar with such conversations told the Guardian. According to that official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and requested anonymity, Trump's people did not know the specifics of the filing or of Flynn's relevant business dealings, but they told the nominee's lawyers that they would address it as a personal matter.
The White House has not yet specified when they learned that the nominee had been lobbying for Turkey, although Spicer said that it should not have impacted Trump's decision to nominate him due to his "impeccable credentials."
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"There's nothing nefarious about doing anything that's legal as long as the proper paperwork is filed," said the press secretary.
Flynn lobbied for a Dutch company, which is owned by a Turkish businessman, for $530,000, says the form filed with the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit, according to the Associated Press. Flynn reportedly lobbied for the Middle Eastern nation between August and November 2016, while he served as a top campaign advisor to Trump.
Flynn stepped down from his position as national security adviser on Feb. 13, after news broke that he had misled White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, about his communication with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S., reports The New York Times.
"Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador," Flynn wrote in his resignation letter, according to The Times. "I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology."
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Flynn went on say that he was "honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way."