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“THE GOVERNMENT BEGAN RETALIATING”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 22, 2020) — on Tuesday afternoon, the lead attorney for former national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (Ret), Sidney Powell, announced on her website a brief filed earlier in the day claiming that “After twenty interviews, the government tried to pressure Mr. Flynn to change his testimony by saying that he knowingly authorized, made, or caused false statements in the FARA filing …” (p. 2).
The U.S. Justice Department states that “FARA requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities. Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents. The FARA Unit of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of FARA.”
On July 23, 2019, the Justice Department announced the conviction of Bijan Rafiekian, a California resident, who co-founded the Flynn Intel Group along with Flynn, for “misrepresentations in his FARA filing” which the government said “attempted to deceive the public and influence key leaders on behalf of Turkey. The Department of Justice treats these crimes with the gravity that they deserve.”
Flynn was not prosecuted under FARA. In September, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia reached the conclusion that “prosecutors did not present sufficient evidence to convict Rafiekian” and ordered a new trial, The Hill reported.
Last week, Powell filed documents with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia requesting a withdrawal of Flynn’s “guilty” plea from December 2017 stemming from allegedly false statements he made to two FBI agents conducting an impromptu interview of him in the West Wing on the third full day of Donald Trump’s presidency.
In a January 16, 2020 interview with Larry O’Connor, Powell, who has represented Flynn since June, declared him “not guilty” of any criminal offense. However, after numerous postponements, Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on January 28 by Judge Emmet Sullivan.
Tuesday’s brief opens by referring to the government’s recently-changed position on whether or not Flynn should be sentenced to prison. “This Court should swiftly reject the government’s brazen attempt to punish Mr. Flynn for refusing to compose rather than sing,” Powell wrote. “The reversal of its sentencing position is not only unjust, it is unlawful. If left unchecked, it will send a dangerous message to cooperators–give testimony consistent with the government’s theory of the case, regardless of veracity,or pay the price with your freedom.”
“If after our additional briefing is filed this Friday, the government continues wrongfully on the path to sentencing Mr. Flynn, he should be placed on probation,” Powell wrote on her website Tuesday. “Mike Flynn is innocent of all charges, he is a national treasure, and he is a great American patriot. This entire ‘investigation’ and prosecution is a grotesque abuse of power and a travesty of justice by the FBI and DOJ—while they still hide the original 302 that shows General Flynn told the truth. Meanwhile, we have already filed—and will file more—actual documents that show Mr. Van Grack made up false FARA charges.”
In a filing in early October, Powell “claimed that “Van Grack pressured Flynn to enter his guilty plea to making false statements to the FBI and stick with that plea, by using the possibility of further prosecution of Flynn, or his son Michael Flynn Jr., as leverage,” Fox News reported.
Brandon Van Grack worked in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, which prosecuted Flynn and other Trump associates over the course of a 22-month investigation of which Powell has been openly critical. Van Grack was chosen to “lead a team of attorneys and administrative staff whose mission was to make sure the FARA law, which requires disclosure of lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, is more aggressively enforced,” Reuters reported last March.
Van Grack is now a “Special Assistant U.S. Attorney,” according to page 21 of Powell’s brief. “Van Grack was one of the lead prosecutors on Mueller’s cases against former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump. Both prosecutions involved FARA violations,” the Reuters article further states.
Last week Powell told O’Connor that Flynn’s case is “the most concocted case I have ever seen.”
“Who do these prosecutors report to, and who’s allowing this to happen?” O’Connor asked, to which Powell responded, “Well, specifically, it’s happening under Jessie Liu, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia…and another big thing we found is that Mr. Van Grack, the lead prosecutor for the Special Counsel’s office himself, had made changes to the Statement of Offense they made Flynn sign and deleted the very language, deleted in a red line that we attached to our motion yesterday, the very language that he then wanted Mr. Flynn to lie about.”
Powell added that Liu is believed to be leaving her post. In a December 10, 2019 press release, the White House announced President Trump’s “intent to nominate” Liu to the position of “Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes at the Department of the Treasury.”
According to an inspector general’s report released on December 9, Flynn was one of four Trump associates placed under FBI surveillance as the agency investigated whether or not there was improper communication or a “conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Eight days after FBI Director James Comey was fired on May 9, 2017, the FBI probe was turned over to Mueller’s team.
The “FARA filing” to which Powell referred and about which her client testified to the Special Counsel’s office was submitted to the government in March 2017, Powell wrote. Of a “Statement of Offense” drafted by Flynn’s first counsel at Covington & Burling and the government, Powell claimed, “The government’s original draft contained language that would have Mr. Flynn claim that he ‘then and there knew’ that the FARA filing made by Covington in March of 2017 was false. Mr. Flynn could not sign that assertion because it was not true. Instead, the parties agreed to remove that language. One red-lined draft specifically shows that the language ‘then and there knew’ relating to the FARA statements was removed and did not make it into the final version.”
On page 7 of the brief, Powell contended that “the FARA filing read as a whole with the accompanying cover letter is overwhelmingly accurate. Any inaccuracy was caused by Covington, not Mr. Flynn.”
Writing for The Federalist on January 16, 2020, Attorney Leslie McAdoo Gordon contended that “If there is to be a just result in Flynn’s case, the court must address the question about Covington’s conflict of interest. Flynn shouldn’t be punished for mistakes that are attributable to his counsel rather than to him.”
Powell claimed in several instances that the government is exercising “retaliation” against her client. “After Mr. Flynn refused to ‘compose,’ the government began retaliating,” she wrote on page 2. “They started by attempting to name Mr. Flynn as a co-conspirator in the EDVA matter.”
In the latter part of the brief, Powell urged the court, if it moves ahead with sentencing, to consider Flynn’s 33 years in the Army and her statement that he “did not use his position to participate in illegal conduct” (p. 18).
Finally, on page 19, she wrote, “John Adams was right: “facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”The government tried to manufacture facts in the Rafiekian case and they thought they could strong-arm Mr. Flynn into helping them through perjury. But they underestimated the will and courage of Michael T. Flynn, a man that bravely and selflessly spent his life protecting his fellow Americans. In considering the whole story of this man and his sacrifices, the Court should impose no more than a sentence of probation.”
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