Donald Trump was unaware that his former national security adviser Michael Flynn had previously worked to further the interests of the Turkish government when he offered him the role, according to the white House.

Flynn, who resigned from his job for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about phone conversations he has with Russia's ambassador to the US, has since been found to have been paid around $530,000 (£435,000) lobbying for a company owned by a Turkish businessman that could have aided Turkey's government.

Between August and mid-November, the now defunct Flynn Intel Group firm received funds from Inovo BV, a privately-owned consulting firm in the Netherlands who has links to Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The lobbying coincided with Flynn working with Trump as his presidential campaign manager.

In paperwork filed with the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit, Flynn acknowledged that his lobbying "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey." It is a felony offence for US citizens to wilfully fail to tell the Justice Department they have lobbied on behalf of foreign governments or political entities, but criminal charges are rarely brought in such cases.

Speaking to reporters, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump did not know Flynn was working as a "foreign agent" when he gave him the security adviser job. "I don't believe that was known," said Spicer.

When asked if Trump would still have offered him the role if he was aware of his work with Turkey, Spicer said he didn't know as the question is "hypothetical".

"I don't know what was discussed prior to the appointment in terms of his background, his resume, his client base. From what I've read, he has filed appropriate forms with the Department of Justice; ask them and subsequently him if you have any questions about the filing," said Spicer.

Speaking to Fox News, Pence also denied knowledge about Flynn's paid work for Turkey.

Michael Flynn
Michael Flynn admitted his work 'could have benefited' Turkey Drew Angerer/ Getty Images