While the headlines have been occupied with the Epstein matter and the other news, there is something curious happening in federal court with Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser. Flynn was just listed as an unindicted co-conspirator by the Justice Department. That itself is odd since Flynn is a cooperating witness facing sentencing before a fairly hostile federal judge. Nevertheless, Flynn now says that the government was trying to get him to give false evidence in the the trial of a former business partner, Bijan Kian, who is accused of violating foreign lobbying disclosure laws. The move by Flynn (following his replacement of counsel) could indicate an “all in” position for a pardon.
Kian was indicted last year in federal court in Alexandria, Va. with Ekim Alptekin, as part of a federal investigation into Turkey’s secret 2016 lobbying campaign for Turkey. Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan is obsessed with a Turkish cleric living in the United States and wants him handed over for likely torture and execution. Flynn was reportedly one of the people willing to discuss the effort, which hardly speaks well of him or his values. Flynn’s firm — Flynn Intel Group — received a total of $530,000 for its work.
However, now Flynn insists that the testimony that the Justice Department expected from him would have been false. In response, the Justice Department listed him as a coconspirator. That will now weigh against him on sentencing before Judge Emmet Sullivan who held a rather strange hearing on Flynn’s sentencing.
Flynn dumped his legal team last month. That team had secured the cooperation agreement. He shifted representation to Sidney Powell, who is viewed as a strong supporter of President Trump and a critic of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The move was viewed by many of us as a shift toward a full pardon strategy. The last hearing before Sullivan may have left Flynn angry and frustrated. Even the Justice Department seemed taken aback by Sullivan’s courtroom statements, including mistaken views of the record. He may now be willing to risk a longer sentence in favor of currying favor with Trump by confronting the prosecutors.
Notably, Flynn’s new legal team has directly attacked David Laufman, the former counterintelligence chief at the Justice Department’s National Security Division. They said accuse Laufman of coercing Flynn to submit false statements.