Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for national security adviser met a few weeks ago with the leader of a far-right Austrian political party that was founded by former Nazis, the New York Times reported on Monday.
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The Austrian Freedom Party recently signed what it called a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party, widely regarded as the latest sign that the Kremlin is attempting to meddle in European affairs by forging bonds with political parties, many of them obscure and murky.
Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache disclosed both the signing of the agreement and his meeting with security adviser nominee General Michael Flynn at Trump Tower in New York a few weeks ago.
Flynn, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency until 2014 and was an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama, has ties to Russia and President Vladimir Putin. It is not known what Flynn and Strache discussed during the meeting.
The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment on the meeting.
Freedom Party’s candidate Norbert Hofer was narrowly defeated in Austria's presidential election in early December.
Strache’s trips to New York and Moscow were clearly intended to convey the impression that the Freedom Party, which still leads all opinion polls ahead of the two mainstream parties that have governed Austria since World War II, has international standing and intends to continue vying for power, the New York Times wrote.
The text of the cooperation agreement, published in Russian on the website of Putin's United Russia party, detailed plans for regular meetings and collaboration on economic, business and political projects. It said the accord was valid for five years, but was not legally binding.
The Russian signatory to the agreement, Sergei Zheleznyak, specifically mentioned Europe’s “migration crisis” as a field for cooperation, according to the website. Zheleznyak is barred from visiting the United States due to his support for the Russian actions in Crimea.