Flynn prosecution case unraveling?, Supplemental status report September 30, 2019, US v. Rafiekian, “Mr. Van Grack knew that was not true”
“Given the material defense counsel has requested, which remains outstanding, Mr. Van Grack’s denial that further Brady material exists is patently absurd. It demonstrates arrogance and utter contempt for the letter and the spirit of this Court’s explicit order, the rule of Brady v. Maryland, and the protections guaranteed to defendants by the U.S. Constitution.”…US v. Flynn motion to compel production of Brady Material
“Prosecutors Brandon Van Grack of the Justice Department’s national security division, who was formerly on Mr. Mueller’s team, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Curtis, of Washington, provided little explanation as to why they were not turning over the transcripts.”…Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 1, 2019
“We are being lied to on a scale unimaginable by George Orwell.”…Citizen Wells
United States v. Michael T. Flynn
Supplemental Status Report
September 30, 2019.
“At the Court’s request, counsel have previously updated the Court on the status of the case in the Eastern District of Virginia, United States v. Rafiekian, No. 1:18-cr-00457, in which Mr. Flynn was a cooperating witness. As described in Dkt. 98, Mr. Flynn cooperated with the government in multiple additional witness preparation sessions for more than 30 hours, waived
attorney-client privilege on many issues, provided documents and substantial cooperation—until the government decided at the last minute not to use him as a witness.
On September 24, 2019, Judge Anthony Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia granted Mr. Rafiekian’s motion for acquittal in its entirety. In a thorough 39-page opinion (attached), Judge Trenga acquitted him on one count of conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C §371 and one count of acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government in violation of 18 U.S.C. §951.
Rafiekian, at Dkt. 372.
The government changed its tack as to Mr. Flynn when he would not testify exactly as the government demanded. It suddenly claimed it needed to name him as a coconspirator to admit one piece of evidence for which it already had another means of admission. Judge Trenga wrote:
On July 3, 2019, the Government filed a Notice of Correction to the Record , in
which it advised the Court that it no longer planned to call Flynn as a witness in its case in chief. The Government also took the position for the first time, contrary to its earlier in-court statements, that Flynn was regarded as a co-conspirator and that it would seek to have his out-of-court statements introduced pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(E).
Id. at 11.
Yet, “neither the original nor superseding indictment in this case references Flynn as a member of the alleged conspiracy or as an agent of the Turkish government; and in response to the Court’s explicit questioning, the Government stated in open court that Flynn, who it planned to call as a witness, was not a member of the charged conspiracy and that it would not rely upon
his testimony to establish the foundation for the admission of Alptekin’s hearsay statements.” Id.
As to the substantive counts, Judge Trenga held that “[t]he Government  failed to offer substantial evidence from which any rational juror could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Rafiekian knowingly acted and caused others to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without proper notification to the Attorney General in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 951.”
Id. at 25. The court’s analysis made clear that there was “no substantial evidence that Rafiekian agreed to operate subject to the direction or control of the Turkish government.” Id.
The court determined that even though the government contended that “the payments made to FIG from Inovo and from FIG to Alptekin allow[ed] the inference that Rafiekian was acting as an agent of the Turkish government or that Alptekin was acting as the agent of Turkey in retaining
FIG,” there was “no evidence, direct or otherwise, sufficient to reasonably infer that Turkey funded the engagement of FIG, or that the engagement was not in fact funded by a group of Turkish businessmen, as Rafiekian stated consistently throughout.” Id. at 28.
Further, the court held, id. at 33, that “[t]he Government [had not] presented sufficient evidence for a rational jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Rafiekian conspired with Alptekin or anyone else to violate 22 U.S.C. § 618(a)(2), and that “[t]here [wa]s no evidence of discussion or suggestions, let alone an agreement, express or implied, to either avoid filing under FARA or to cause the filing of a false FARA registration statement.” (emphasis added).
The government’s own timeline failed to support its theory of the case:
[t]he superseding indictment alleges that the alleged conspiracy began from at least July 2016; but the DOJ did not even raise the specter of a need for a FARA filing until its letter to Flynn dated November 30, 2016 (which did not become known to Flynn until December 24, 2016), by which time FIG had ceased operations and was not performing any work for Inovo or anyone else.”
Id. at 34.
Ultimately, according to the court, the government’s case rested on unsupported assumptions:
The Government claims ‘the three co-conspirators [Rafiekian, Flynn, and Alptekin] again gave substantially identical explanations [in the FARA filings] that the jury plainly deemed false and used as further evidence of a concerted agreement to lie.’. . . But that contention ignores the lack of evidence to establish the presumed conspiracy, or any agreement, among these three individuals concerning the FARA filing, as discussed above.
Judge Trenga also granted, in the alternative, a motion for new trial, against the (highly unlikely) possibility that his primary ruling of acquittal would be reversed or vacated. Upon further analysis, he realized the “jury was not adequately instructed as to the role of Michael Flynn in light of the government’s in-court judicial admission that Flynn was not a member of the alleged
conspiracy and the lack of evidence sufficient to establish his participation in any conspiracy; and there was a substantial danger that the jury drew inferences against Rafiekian with respect to the existence of and his participation in the alleged conspiracy based on a belief that Flynn could be regarded as a member of the alleged conspiracy.” Id. at 36-37.
Finally, the court underscored the need to fulfill the scienter requirement, which burden the government had not carried, holding that “the mens rea requirement under this general intent statute required the government to prove that the defendant knew he was acting in a manner not authorized by statute or regulation.” Id. at 37.1
Remarkably, the government did not indict the specious Rafiekian case until more than a year after the Flynn indictment—just a few days before Mr. Flynn was to be sentenced in this Court—when the government was concerned that Mr. Flynn would withdraw his plea.
Even more troubling, Mr. Van Grack was determined that Mr. Flynn would testify in the Rafiekian case that he had knowingly signed a false FARA registration, even though Mr. Van Grack knew that was not true and Mr. Flynn had not agreed to that in the course of his plea agreement. Mr. Flynn’s refusal to get on the witness stand and lie for the government on that point prompted a heated tirade from Mr. Van Grack with Mr. Flynn’s lead counsel, in which Mr. Van Grack claimed Mr. Flynn had agreed to plead to a knowing and intentional false FARA filing. Dkt. 98-1.
In our endless document review, we now have a draft of the statement of offense that proves the contrary, showing similar language deleted. The absence of that language from the statement of offense or any charge of a false filing did not deter Mr. Van Grack from doubling down.
Enraged that Mr. Flynn reject their demand to lie, the prosecutors in the EDVA (Mr. James Gillis, Mr. Evan Turgeon, and Mr. John Gibbs, with Mr. Van Grack’s oversight) retaliated with an ex parte gag order and sealed filing on July 3. For the first time, the prosecutors claimed that Mr. Flynn was a co-conspirator. They put Michael Flynn Jr. on the witness list for the Rafiekian trial.
They even had FBI Agent Taylor contact the latter directly, despite knowing he was represented by counsel. See Dkt 246 in EDVA; Dkt. 95 in this Court.
In sum, however, the entire prosecution failed for lack of evidence of any conspiracy or anyone acting as a foreign agent. As Judge Trenga wrote: “the Government has failed to offer substantial evidence . . . that Rafiekian knowingly acted and caused others to act . . . as an agent of a foreign government,” and there was “no evidence Rafiekian agreed to operate subject to the
direction or control of Turkey,” and “no competent evidence . . . Alptekin acted as the type of ‘intermediary’ [as] the Government contend[ed].” Op. at 25.”