US Special Counsel Mueller investigating Kushner’s ties with Erdoğan’s family

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of and special advisor to US President Donald Trump, is being investigated over his foreign links to a number of countries including Turkey, according to a report by American broadcaster NBC News.

“As part of the scrutiny of Kushner’s discussions with Turks, federal investigators have reached out to Turkish nationals for information on Kushner through the FBI’s legal attaché office in Ankara, according to two people familiar with the matter,” the news channel reported.

US Federal investigators are scrutinizing whether any of Kushner’s business discussions with foreigners during the presidential transition later shaped White House policies in ways designed to either benefit or retaliate against those he spoke with, according to witnesses and other people familiar with the investigation.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has asked witnesses about Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for his family’s real estate properties, focusing specifically on his discussions during the transition with individuals from Qatar and Turkey, as well as Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates, according to witnesses who have been interviewed as part of the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 election.

As part of the scrutiny of Kushner’s discussions with Turkish government officials, federal investigators have reached out to Turkish nationals for information on Kushner through the FBI’s legal attache office in Ankara, according to two people familiar with the matter.  According to the report, it is unclear how successful Mueller’s effort to reach Turkish nationals has been or what discussions Kushner had with Turks that are under scrutiny.

People familiar with the matter believe that Turkish autocratic President Recep Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who is also the Turkey’s energy minister, met with Michael Flynn, who would soon serve briefly as Trump’s national security adviser, in New York in December 2016. Mueller’s team has been investigating whether they discussed a possible quid-pro-quo deal. Flynn is cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

NBC News reported that a spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. Kushner could face legal exposure if Mueller’s team determines he is “making decisions in the White House that ultimately have an impact on his own financial position,” said Ron Hosko, who retired in 2014 as head of the FBI’s criminal division.

Under US law, it is illegal to for any government employee, including someone being considered for an advisory role, to render advice based on financial interest. The Turkish embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request by NBC News for comment.

Flynn has admitted on late November 2017 to making false statements in a Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing made in March with the US Justice Department regarding work his company performed for the principal benefit of the Republic of Turkey.

In the Statement of the Offense detailing the charges against Flynn signed by the former lieutenant general and the Special Counsel’s office on Nov. 30, 2017, Flynn admitted to making materially false statements in the FARA filings, including by falsely stating that his company, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., did not know whether or the extent to which the Republic of Turkey was involved in the “Turkey project”; that the Turkey project was focused on improving US business organizations’ confidence regarding doing business in Turkey; that an op-ed by Flynn published in The Hill on Nov. 8, 2016, was written at his own initiative; and by omitting that officials from the Republic of Turkey provided supervision and direction over the Turkey project.

The US special counsel is investigating work performed by Flynn on a documentary targeting Turkish-Muslim scholar Fethullah Gülen and financed by Turkish interests as part of a probe into whether Flynn concealed financial ties to Russia and Turkey, The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 24.

According to the report the FBI was planning to interview consultants hired by Flynn to work on the unfinished film attacking Gülen, a cleric living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania who the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a failed coup in Turkey in 2016. Gülen and the movement he inspired have denied any involvement in the attempt.

The documentary was part of Flynn’s work for Turkish interests while he served on Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016, with his company signing a contract with Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman close to Erdoğan, for which he was paid $530,000.

Flynn also wrote an opinion piece published on Nov. 8, 2016 by The Hill titled “Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support,” urging improved Turkish-US relations and denigrating cleric Gülen.

Special counsel Mueller is in addition investigating whether Flynn and his son discussed with Turkish representatives the forcible removal of Gülen to Turkey in return for up to $15 million, allegations denied by Flynn’s lawyer and the Turkish government.

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