Even as we continue to try piece together precisely why Donald Trump changed his mind this week and fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whom he had previously asked to remain on the job, yet another eye popping detail has emerged. This week it was revealed that Trump adviser Michael Flynn was on Turkey’s payroll all along, and Trump knew it. One of the Turkish regime’s closest allies is currently sitting in a U.S. prison – because Preet Bharara has been holding him there.
The story goes like this: Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for New York City, brought charges of financial corruption against Turkish business tycoon Reza Zarrab in March of 2016. Zarrab was such a crucial ally of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that after Zarrab was arrested, Bharara became an instant national hero among those in Turkey who hoped for Erdogan’s ouster (source: New York Times). Zarrab was denied bail, and is still sitting in a United States prison awaiting trial in October 2017 (source: Turkish Minute). What does this have to do with Donald Trump? That depends on what happens next.
Michael Flynn admitted this week that he took $530,000 from a Turkish government intermediary to represent the Erdogan regime’s interests. It’s also been revealed that Vice President Mike Pence knew about Flynn’s arrangement with Turkey since at least November and was not only fine with it, but also lied about it. It’s nearly a given, then, that Donald Trump also knew Flynn was a paid Turkish agent and didn’t care.
Turkey and Erdogan no doubt want Reza Zarrab freed and returned home. Preet Bharara would have been leading the prosecution of Zarrab at his trial later this year, but that status is now uncertain. So it’ll be key to watch what happens to Zarrab once Trump appoints a replacement U.S. Attorney to handle Zarrab’s case. If he’s suddenly released on bail, then it’ll suggest that Trump was fine with Flynn’s status as a paid Turkish agent because Trump has overriding allegiance to Erdogan of his own. Contribute to Palmer Report
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report