New evidence puts President Trump’s convicted former National Security Advisor at the center of a newly revealed Turkish 2016 election interference scheme.
Former General Michael Flynn pled guilty to one count of lying to the FBI and took a cooperation deal in December 2017, but it has been steadily falling apart over the last eight months.
The disgraced former NSA had a blown sentencing hearing last December, and in June fired his longtime legal counsel, Robert Kelner. Then, federal prosecutors surprisingly dropped him as a witness in his co-conspirator’s criminal trial just last week.
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Today, it was the defense counsel for his indicted former partner, Bijan Rafekian, who dropped a bombshell in court when he read a letter from prosecutors. It could spell the beginning of the end for Flynn’s treasured ticket out of federal prison for his crimes and raises a whole new host of questions about the Trump campaign’s dealings with foreign nations.
The Washington Post reports:
The U.S. government has extensive evidence that the Turkish government attempted to influence President Trump’s 2016 campaign through adviser Michael Flynn, according to a statement read in Alexandria federal court Friday.
The statement from prosecutors indicated that the government has “multiple, independent pieces of information related to the Turkish government’s efforts to influence United States policy,” including on an exiled cleric Turkey would like to see extradited.
Rafekian’s lawyers maintain that the government’s case can’t win without Flynn’s testimony, which is why the government responded with today’s revelation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Gillis told the court that there are “volumes of evidence” to support the case, which alleges that Turkey operated both men as its agents to influence U.S. policy, and that they filed detailed false paperwork to disguise the full extent of their work, according to the Post:
The information reportedly shows a businessman with close ties to the Turkish government engaged with Flynn “because of Michael Flynn’s relationship with an ongoing presidential campaign.”
According to the prosecutors’ statement, however, the government has collected evidence that Turkey cultivated a relationship between Alptekin and Flynn that did not relate to Rafiekian or their firm, the Flynn Intel Group.
Earlier this week, prosecutors released a list of witnesses that didn’t include either Flynn or his son Michael Flynn Jr. who is most famous for pushing the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
But it did include Gen. Flynn’s criminal defense lawyer as a potential witness, which is highly unusual.
Story continues below:
General Michael Flynn’s criminal defense lawyer Robert Kelner is on the witness list at the trial of his Turkish paymaster who stands accused of violating foreign lobbying laws.
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) July 9, 2019
Now, we know why.
Apparently, handwritten notes from Kelner and his other lawyers at the high-powered D.C. law firm Covington & Burlington indicate that they were lied to by Flynn.
His new counsel contends that Flynn didn’t lie, but “merely signed flawed but ‘substantially accurate’ documents without reading them first.”
Prosecutor Brandon Van Grack who used to work for Special Counsel Mueller and is overseeing Flynn’s D.C. case as well as the Justice Department unit tasked with enforcing Foreign Agents Registration Act violations, said it’s the “first time” he is hearing that Flynn doesn’t believe he was “willfully” or “knowingly” lying to his former attorneys, according to the Post.
Van Grack also said that Flynn “did not say anything” when he went before DC District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who accepted his guilty plea and took over the case last year.
All this is happening with a July 15th trial date looming, Flynn attacking the prosecution and prosecutors, in turn, seeking to reclassify him as a co-conspirator in the case.