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Sunday, June 18, 2017

How Michael Flynn’s Disdain for Limits Led to a Legal Quagmire - The New York Times



"WASHINGTON — Michael T. Flynn was a man seething and thwarted. In the summer of 2014, after repeatedly clashing with other Obama administration officials over his management of the Defense Intelligence Agency — and what he saw as his unheeded warnings about the rising power of Islamic militants — Mr. Flynn was fired, bringing his military career to an abrupt end.

Mr. Flynn decided that the military’s loss would be his gain: He would parlay his contacts, his disdain for conventional bureaucracy, and his intelligence career battling Al Qaeda into a lucrative business advising cybersecurity firms and other government contractors. Over the next two years he would sign on as a consultant to nearly two dozen companies, while carving out a niche as a sought-after author and speaker — and ultimately becoming a top adviser to President Trump.

“I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit,” Mr. Flynn said in an interview in October 2015. In the military, he added, “I learned that following the way you’re supposed to do things isn’t always the way to accomplish a task.”

tead of lofting him into the upper ranks of Beltway bandits, where some other top soldiers have landed, his foray into consulting has become a legal and political quagmire, driven by the same disdain for boundaries that once propelled his rise in the military. His business ties are now the subject of a broad inquiry by a special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates. That investigation now includes work Mr. Flynn did for Russian clients and for a Turkish businessman with ties to that country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr. Flynn sometimes seemed to be trying to achieve through business what he could not accomplish in government. He believed that the United States was engaged in a “world war” against Islamist militants, and that Washington’s national security elite had so thoroughly politicized the country’s intelligence agencies that few left in government could see the threat. The United States, he believed, needed to take a tougher line against the Islamic State, and it needed to cultivate Russia as an ally in the fight.

“He got out of the service and had a passion to reform the intelligence community, where he saw some deficiencies,” said Todd Wilcox, a former Green Beret and C.I.A. officer who founded Patriot Capital, a Florida-based defense contractor that named Mr. Flynn to an advisory board in 2015.

But Mr. Flynn also became entangled with controversial clients. One company that paid him, OSY Technologies, is part of a cyberweapons company whose software has been used to hack Mexican activists and an opposition leader in the Middle East. Another, a Boston company selling a technology to replace lie detectors, is accused by its former chief scientist of marketing a counterfeit version of his technology to foreign clients.

Dozens of interviews and a review of public documents suggest that Mr. Flynn’s business was as scattershot as it was ambitious — and that there were few opportunities he would pass up. His clients ranged from a drone manufacturer in Florida to major software companies; at one point, Mr. Flynn took a $5,000 gig as an expert witness in a personal injury case. Some of his clients came through a tight-knit circle of Iranian-Americans, one of whom became a key partner in Mr. Flynn’s businesses."

How Michael Flynn’s Disdain for Limits Led to a Legal Quagmire - The New York Times

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