The Department of Justice is continuing its criminal case against a former trading partner of Michael Flynn, despite the controversial decision by Attorney General William Barr to seek to drop the charges against the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump.
Prosecutors seeking to restore the convictions of former Flynn’s colleague Bijan Rafiekian on Sunday filed a case with a federal court of appeal.
The file repeatedly mentions Flynn’s integral role in the work that led to the two foreign agent crime charges against Rafiekian and maintains the government’s position that Flynn was an accomplice in the crimes of his trading partner – a curious position as a government seeks to drop the criminal proceedings brought against Flynn over two years ago.
The 53-page brief filed with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond makes no mention of the Department of Justice’s extraordinary decision to dispose of the office of special advocate Robert Mueller in December 2017 as part of a Advocacy with the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and key foreign policy advisor to Trump’s presidential candidacy in 2016.
Although this case focused on Flynn’s January 2017 statements to the FBI about his dealings with the Russian ambassador, it also included Flynn’s admission that he had approved inaccurate filings for the law. registration of foreign agents concerning the project that led to the prosecution of Rafiekian: $ 600,000 Flynn contract signed for his Flynn Intel Group at the height of the presidential campaign in 2016 to lobby on behalf of a Dutch firm, Inovo BV.
Prosecutors contend that Inovo was in fact a front for the Turkish government and that the Flynn and Rafiekian lobbying and messaging campaign had no real commercial element, but was aimed at a leading opponent of the Turkish government, the religious Fetullah Gulen .
When the Justice Ministry last month presented its unusual request to dismiss the case against Flynn, he was completely silent on his confession related to Turkey. Another federal court of appeal, the DC circuit, will hear arguments on Friday whether Flynn has the right to dismiss the case immediately or whether a judge can hear arguments that Flynn’s guilty plea in the matter should not be disturbed.
Flynn’s chief counsel, Sidney Powell, has castigated the government’s decision to continue suing Rafiekian, a former adviser to Trump’s transition team. Asked by POLITICO about this decision, she replied by e-mail: “Abusive and unnecessary use of limited resources of taxpayers.”
A prominent Virginia defense lawyer, Edward MacMahon, said Sunday that Rafiekian appeared to be a victim of double standards. “There is a different type of justice that is offered to people like General Flynn than that offered to this guy. So Flynn is the darling of Fox News and this guy is disposable?” Said MacMahon.
Rafiekian’s lawyer Robert Trout declined to comment on the new case against his client. However, about two weeks ago, the Rafiekian defense wrote to the U.S. attorney Barr had appointed to review the Flynn case, Jeff Jensen, requesting that the Rafiekian case be considered in a similar fashion.
“The Rafiekian lawsuit is a direct result of the government misconduct discovered in your review of Flynn’s guilty plea,” Rafiekian’s lawyers wrote in a May 22 letter first reported by the New York Times. “Rafiekian does not have the same recognition and does not enjoy the same public support from the President of the United States as Flynn. But the political notoriety and affection of the president must not influence – much less play a decisive role in – the way in which the Ministry of Justice takes its decisions. “
Spokesmen for the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, who handled much of the case against Rafiekian, have rejected repeated requests for comment on the case and whether Jensen’s review had examined the Turkish-related allegations against Rafiekian and Flynn. A Justice Department spokesperson will only say that Jensen’s work is underway.
Rafiekian’s case is an unusual posture. While the defense is almost always the party appealing in a criminal case, prosecutors find themselves requesting the intervention of the court of appeal after the district court judge who conducted the Rafiekian trial ordered his acquittal despite the fact that the jury found him guilty of the two counts after a few hours of deliberations. July.
Judge Anthony Trenga said that the guilty verdicts went against the overwhelming weight of evidence in the case. During the trial he repeatedly stated that he believed that the evidence provided by the government was very weak when it came to showing that the Turkish government really controlled the lobbying and public relations project undertaken by Flynn and Rafiekian.
Flynn was originally to be the star witness to the Rafiekian trial and to testify that he and his former partner were well aware that the project was operating under the leadership of the Turkish government.
However, weeks before the trial, Flynn abandoned his D.C. lawyers and recruited a new, more combative team led by Powell. She quickly found herself in a heated discussion with former Mueller attorney Brandon Van Grack, who accused Flynn of departing from her previous testimony and confession in the 2017 case.
Prosecutors then abandoned their plans for Flynn to take a stand and instead declared him a co-conspirator, which prompted the judge and Rafiekian’s defense to express their irritation in the last minute.
The 4th Circuit has not yet programmed arguments in the case of Rafiekian. Officially, the development of the Flynn case is not part of the appeal record, but intense media attention to the overthrow of the Department of Justice means that judges are likely to raise the issue anyway if Prosecutors do not act by then, lawyers following the case said.
“In my experience, the court of appeal takes note of these things,” said MacMahon. “There is no chance that it will not happen – because it should happen.”
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