President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn sought to delay his sentencing Tuesday after admitting in open court Tuesday he was ‘guilty’ of lying to the FBI only to get excoriated by a federal judge for ‘selling out’ his country.
Flynn faced the real possibility of jail time after Judge Emmet Sullivan repeatedly dressed-down the three-star general and former top Trump advisor in court for his lies.
‘I cannot assure you, if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration, Sullivan told him. ‘I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense,’ he fumed.
Following a tense hearing filled with similar broadsides, Flynn and his lawyers changed course and asked to delay sentencing while Flynn continues to cooperate with prosecutors.
He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s former ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition, as well as conversations the two men had about Obama-imposed sanctions on Russia as punishment for the country’s invasion of Ukraine and interference in the U.S. election.
President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, his attorney Robert Kelner and his wife Lori Andrade arrive at federal court in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018 for Flynn to receive sentencing following his guilty plea
He will now have a status hearing on March 13 with his sentencing put off indefinitely. The government earlier said in court that Flynn may still be cooperate further, giving him an additional chance to prove his worth.
Sullivan kept alive the possibility of a prison sentence, nodding towards Flynn and saying: ‘I don’t promise him anything.’
Flynn’s lawyers opted for a legal retreat after the judge gave multiple hints that he could end up getting put away. Judge Sullivan also asked questions about Flynn’s cooperation in a case involving a Turkish national and his former business associate’s lobbying for Turkey, in a case in which Flynn is expected to testify later.
Following angry lectures from the bench, Flynn sought a 30-minute break to huddle with his lawyers following his guilty plea.
Flynn exited the courthouse Tuesday afternoon without resolution – only to be met with rivaling cheers of ‘Lock him up!’ and ‘USA.’ Flynn had led a cheer of ‘Lock her up’ directed at Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Republican convention, when he was a top advisor to Donald Trump.
Sullivan had told him he sold out his country by lying about his Russia contacts from inside the White House – and asked prosecutors why they hadn’t charged Flynn with treason.
Flynn left the courthouse to shouts of ‘Lock him up!’ and ‘USA!’
Judge Emmet Sullivan excoriated Flynn during a court hearing Tuesday
Sullivan tied together both of the crimes Flynn admitted to committing: lying to cover up his Russia contacts, and lobbying on behalf of Turkey without disclosing his activities – and banking hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
‘All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for,’ Sullivan thundered.
‘Arguably you sold your country out.’
During the hearing, Flynn also told Sullivan knew that doing so was a crime when he met with investigators in 2016.
Judge Emmet Sullivan tore into Mike Flynn at his sentencing hearing
Flynn arrived in federal court for sentencing Tuesday following his guilty plea hours after getting ‘good luck’ wishes from his former boss.
During conversations with Sullivan in court, Flynn’s team backed off it’s claim that the FBI lead him into lying. That claim, contained in a memo to the judge in advance of sentencing, appears to have backfired, antagonizing the judge and putting Flynn’s team in the awkward position of maintaining a guilty plea even after attacking the government’s investigation.
Asked if Flynn had been ‘entrapped by the FBI, lawyer Stephen Anthony replied, ‘No, your Honor.’
That comment by Flynn’s team was directly contradicted by the White House, where press secretary Sarah Sanders said Flynn was ‘ambushed’ by FBI agents.
Sullivan asked Flynn if he wanted to go ahead with his hearing because he was guilty. ‘Yes, your honor,’ Flynn replied. He declined an opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea.
Judge Sullivan told Flynn he would consider the ‘substantial assistance’ he has given the Mueller probe as well as his ’33 years of military service and sacrifice’.
Flynn also said he was ‘aware’ that lying to FBI investigators was a crime.
At the White House, press secretary Sanders stood by her claim Flynn was subject to an ‘ambush’ even after Flynn and his lawyers had abandoned the claim. Asked about Flynn’s admission that had lied to investigators inside the White House, Sanders said it had nothing to do with the president.
‘Not when it comes to things that have anything to do with the president. The activities that he is said to – and again we’ll let the court make that determination – to have engaged in don’t have anything to do with the president,’ Sanders said.
‘Let’s remember what the whole thing that this started is supposed to be about, it’s whether or not Russia influenced the election or whether or not the president had anything to do with it,’ she told reporters in a rare briefing.
‘We know that Russia tried to create chaos within the election but certainly not that they actually impacted it. The only reason that the president is the president is ’cause he was a better candidate and beat Hillary Clinton. We also know that the president never colluded with Russia,’ she said.
Sanders wished Flynn ‘well’ and defended Trump’s decision to wish him good luck.
‘It is perfectly acceptable for the president to make a positive comment about somebody while we wait to see what the court’s determination is,’ she said, notwithstanding Flynn’s own guilty plea.
Flynn was hoping to avoid jail time after prosecutors vouched for his extensive cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, including 19 interviews, according to the government.
Asked if Flynn was still assisting prosecutors, the government was coy. ‘It remains a possibility,’ a prosecutor said.
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrives for his sentencing hearing for lying to the FBI at the US Federal Court in Washington, DC, USA, 18 December 2018
‘The more you assist the government, the more you arguably help yourself at the time of sentencing,’ Sullivan responded.
Sullivan lectured Flynn about what he admitted he did, calling it a ‘very serious offense,’ noting that it involved a senior official lying to the FBI ‘while on the physical premises of the White House.’
‘It’s a very serious offense. You can’t minimize that,’ said the judge.
‘Arguably, you sold your country out,’ said Sullivan.
At one point, Sullivan asked prosecutor Brandon Van Grack whether what Flynn did ‘rises to the level of treasonous activity?’
Van Grack said prosecutors did not consider charging him with Treason – which carries the death penalty as a possible punishment.
Only later after a recess did Judge Sullivan said he was merely asking to get a sense of potential charges. “I was just curious,’ he said.
It was ‘not something they had considered,’ Van Grack responded.
‘Could he have been charged with treason?’ the judge asked.
Van Grack later in the hearing said he was confident Flynn did not commit treason.
Flynn came in for even more criticism over his admitted big bucks representation of Turkey without disclosing it.
After the short recess, Flynn’s Attorney Robert Kelner told the court that Flynn had ‘held nothing back’ in his dealings with the Mueller case.
He said Flynn had agreed ‘publicly, clearly, completely and utterly to cooperate, sending a signal to every other defendant.’
Kelner agreed, however, that sentencing should be delayed because Flynn may be asked to testify in the upcoming federal prosecution of Bijan Kian, Flynn’s former business partner.
Kian, an Iranian-American, is accused of breaking the Foreign Agent Registration Act for failing to inform the State Department he was working for the Turkish government.
Turkish-Dutch dual national Ekim Alpetkin, another business partner of Kian and Flynn, is the subject of an arrest warrant but is thought to be in Turkey. Kian and Alpetkin are accused in court papers of a plot to convince the US government to extradite or otherwise expel Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who opposes the country’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The court heard Tuesday that Flynn could have been charged in that same indictment but the government decided not to prosecute to him because of his cooperation.
Judge Sullivan adjourned the case until noon on March 13 but he kept alive the possibility of a prison sentence, nodding towards Flynn and saying: ‘I don’t promise him anything.’
Sullivan also snapped at defense attorneys when they referred to a 2015 plead deal whereby David H. Petraeus, the storied wartime general and former CIA director, escaped with a misdemeanor charge and no jail time after he admitted mishandling classified material.
‘I don’t agree with the Petraeus sentence,’ the judge said, before adding: ‘It’s none of my business, maybe there were extenuating circumstances. I don’t know.’ Sullivan also backpedaled on suggestions he felt Flynn should be charged with treason.
‘I’ve never presided over a treason offense,’ he said. ‘I was just asking the question,’ he said.
Flynn, who received the unusual boost from the president’s Twitter account, arrived amid a smattering of protesters, including one calling him Vladimir Putin’s puppet’ and another calling him innocent and a ‘great patriot.’
He was in the fortuitous position of having both the prosecution and the defense recommend he not face jail time, after special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors cited his extensive prosecution with the Russia probe and other investigations.
Flynn, who was accompanied by his wife Lori on Tuesday, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with former Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.
Interview notes by the FBI released Monday night reveal Flynn had numerous conversations and contacts with Kislyak, but denied a substantive conversation about lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia.
In a tweet Tuesday morning, Trump also denied collusion with Russia during his election campaign.
He wrote: ‘Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn.’
The president also wrote: ‘Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!’
Donald Trump has wished Michael Flynn good luck for his court appearance today
Special Counsel Robert Mueller (left) released a memo about the January 2017 interview in which Michael Flynn (right) lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government
A group of supporters of Gen. Michael Flynn gathered outside the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C.
Supporters of Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn gather outside the US Federal Court as Flynn arrives for his sentencing hearing
It comes after Special Counsel Robert Mueller released a memo about the January 2017 interview in which Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government.
Sullivan, who received federal appointments from Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton, had ordered the special counsel to provide more documents, after Flynn’s lawyers argued he was railroaded into giving an interview just days after starting work at the White House without benefit of having a lawyer present. The government argued that Flynn had long government service and should have known it was a crime not to be truthful with investigators.
At the interview, Flynn told investigators, among them now-former FBI agent Peter Strzok, about his conversations with Kislyak.
According to the 302 notes, when asked whether he pushed Russia for a particular position, ‘FLYNN answered, ‘No.’
Flynn ‘stated the conversations were along the lines of where do you stand, and what’s your position,’ according to the 302.
The memo indicates that Flynn denied asking the Russian government for political favors, according to CNN.
The agents who interviewed him, meanwhile, kept pressing President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser for more specifics.
It was that interview in which Flynn told investigators, among them now-former FBI agent Peter Strzok (above), about his conversations with then-Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak
Flynn told Strzok and other FBI agents who interviewed him that he and Kislyak did not discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia.
The memo also describes how Flynn played down his attempts to lobby Russia to oppose a United Nations Security Council resolution to condemn Israeli settlements.
Flynn initially told agents that he did not try to convince Russia to vote against the resolution.
‘The interviewing agents asked Flynn if he recalled any discussions with Kislyak about a United Nations vote surrounding the issue of Israeli settlements,’ the memo said.
‘Flynn quickly responded, ‘Yes, good reminder’.’
He was also asked by the agents whether he tried to encourage Kislyak and his government not to retaliate to the Obama administration’s decision to expel Russian diplomats.
‘Flynn responded, ‘Not really. I don’t remember.’ It wasn’t, ‘Don’t do anything.’
Liar, liar: Flynn will be sentenced for admitting lying to the FBI about his contact before the 2016 election with Kislyak, then Putin’s ambassador to Washington D.C.
But the FBI knew Flynn asked Russia not to retaliate strongly to the expulsions, and had the benefit of monitoring of Kislyak’s communications.
When Flynn pleaded guilty last year, he admitted that he did do just that.
The Special Counsel’s office said in the memo that Flynn did ask Russia to ‘refrain from escalating the situation.’
The memo was released after Flynn’s lawyers suggested that investigators discouraged him from having an attorney present during the interview and never informed him it was a crime to lie.
Prosecutors shot back: ‘He does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling them the truth.’
The mere insinuation of underhanded tactics was startling given the seemingly productive relationship between the two sides, and it was especially striking since prosecutors with Mueller’s office have praised Flynn’s cooperation and recommended against prison time.
The defense arguments spurred speculation that Flynn, 59, may be trying to get sympathy from President Donald Trump or may be playing to a judge known for a zero-tolerance view of government misconduct.
At his side: Flynn became a vocal supporter of Trump and spoke at campaign rallies such as this one in Grand Junction, CO, and the Republican national convention in Cleveland, OH, where he led chants of ‘lock her up’
Notorious meeting: Flynn traveled to Moscow in December 2015 and dined with Vladimir Putin to celebrate the 10th anniversary of RT, the Russian English-language propaganda channel
What a change of tone: In the run-up to his former aide’s sentencing, Trump has turned from portraying him as a liar to saying that he did not, as the president steps up his attacks on the Mueller probe
‘It’s an attempt, I think, to perhaps characterize Flynn as a victim or perhaps to make him look sympathetic in the eyes of a judge – and, at the same time, to portray the special counsel in a negative light,’ said former federal prosecutor Jimmy Gurule, a University of Notre Dame law school professor.
Until the dueling memos were filed last week, the sentencing hearing for Flynn – who pleaded guilty to lying about a conversation during the transition period with the then-Russian ambassador – was expected to be devoid of the drama characterizing other of Mueller’s cases.
Prosecutors, for instance, have accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying to them even after he agreed to cooperate.
Another potential target, Jerome Corsi, leaked draft court documents and accused Mueller’s team of bullying him.
And George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser recently released from a two-week prison sentence, has lambasted the investigation and publicly claimed that he was set up.
Flynn, by contrast, has been notably silent even as his supporters advocated a more combative stance. He met privately with investigators 19 times and provided cooperation so extensive that prosecutors said he was entitled to avoid prison altogether.
Then came his sentencing memo.
Although Flynn and his attorneys stopped short of any direct accusations of wrongdoing, they took pains to note that Flynn, unlike other defendants in Mueller’s investigation, was not informed that it was against the law to lie to the FBI.
They suggest the FBI, which approached Flynn at the White House just days after Trump’s inauguration, played to his desire to keep the encounter quiet by telling him the quickest way to get the interview done was for him to be alone with the agents – rather than involve lawyers.
They also insinuate that Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, deserves credit for not publicly seizing on the fact that FBI officials involved in the investigation later came under scrutiny themselves.
Former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who contacted Flynn to arrange the interview, was fired this year for what the Justice Department said was a lack of candor over a news media leak.
Strzok, one of the two agents who interviewed Flynn, was removed from Mueller’s team and later fired for trading anti-Trump texts with another FBI official.
Tarnished: Flynn (left) became a three-star general while his brother Charlie (right) became a two-star general. Now one brother’s service is overshadowed by his guilt. His mother Helen (center) had nine children with the Flynn’s later father, Charles
Sentenced: Flynn will join his former cohort Michael Cohen – Trump’s fixer – in having been sentenced. Cohen is due to report to federal prison in March
Business partners: Flynn was in business with Bijan Kian (second left). Kian, an Iranian-American, is now indicted on charges of lobbying illegally along with Flynn, who appears to have flipped on him. Flynn’s wife Lori is expected at his sentencing
Mueller’s team has sharply pushed back at any suggestion that Flynn was duped, with prosecutors responding in their own sentencing memo Friday that there was no obligation to warn Flynn against lying.
‘A sitting National Security (Adviser), former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents,’ prosecutors wrote.
Former FBI Director James Comey criticized the broadsides on the Flynn investigation during a Monday appearance on Capitol Hill, saying, ‘They’re up here attacking the FBI’s investigation of a guy who pled guilty to lying to the FBI.’
Trump has made no secret that he sees Mueller’s investigation as a ‘witch hunt’ and has continued to lash out at prosecutors he sees as biased against him and those who help them.
He’s shown continued sympathy for Flynn, though, calling him a ‘great person’ and asserting – erroneously – that the FBI has said he didn’t lie.
Flynn has not tried to retract his guilty plea, and there’s every indication the sentencing will proceed as scheduled.
Arun Rao, a former Justice Department prosecutor in Maryland, said the defense memo is striking because it’s ‘inconsistent’ with Flynn’s cooperative stance so far.
‘You also wonder in this very unusual situation,’ he said, ‘whether it is a play for a pardon.’
It’s also possible that at least some of the defense arguments may resonate with U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who directed prosecutors to produce FBI records related to Flynn’s interview.
Scalp: Flynn will become the fourth of Robert Mueller’s targets to be sentenced
Sullivan was the judge in the Justice Department’s botched prosecution of now-deceased Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
He dismissed the case after prosecutors admitted that they withheld exculpatory evidence, prompting the judge to say that in nearly 25 years on the bench, ‘I’ve never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I’ve seen in this case.’
In an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal last year, Sullivan said the case inspired him to explicitly remind prosecutors in every criminal case before him of their obligation to provide defendants with favorable evidence. He says he has encouraged colleagues to do the same.
But while Sullivan has proved especially sensitive to hints of government overreach, nothing about the Flynn case comes close, said Gurule, the law professor.
‘To portray him as somehow an innocent dupe, as somehow just this innocent victim in the process, this suggestion that there was a perjury trap – it’s an absurd allegation,’ he said.
But the sentencing also comes the day after a dramatic move by Mueller to arrest Flynn’s former business partner and reveal that Flynn had been part of an effort to lobby illegally.
Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American who was number two to Flynn was arrested and appeared in federal court in Washington D.C. before being freed on bail.
He is charged with a plot to lobby for Turkey without declaring that he and Flynn’s firm was working for the Turkish government, breaking the Foreign Agent Registration Act which makes it illegal to lobby for foreign governments without registering with the State Department. Kian has yet to enter a plea.
Also indicted was the business partner who worked with him and Flynn, Turkish-Dutch dual national Ekim Alpetkin, who is the subject of an arrest warrant and thought to be in Turkey.
Kian and Alpetkin are accused in court papers of a plot to convince the U.S. government to extradite or otherwise expel Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who is a deadly rival of the country’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mueller says in the court papers that with Flynn, who is referred to a ‘Person A’ they placed an op-ed in The Hill newspaper without acknowledging that it was at the prompting of the Turkish government.
Flynn wrote the op-ed and his firm, The Flynn Intel Group, was paid $600,000 for their lobbying campaign – but he is not indicted himself in what appears to be a sign that he flipped on his former associates.
The special counsel has praised the former Trump administration official for his ‘substantial help’ in several investigations. It is believed this is one of them.
ROBERT MUELLER’S PROBE SO FAR: EIGHT CONVICTIONS – INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED
GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence
Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN
Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Sentenced to three years in prison and $2 million in fines and forfeitures in December 2018
Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.
He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.
And he admitted lying to Congress in a rare use of the offense. The judge in his case let him report for prison on March 6 and recommended he serve it in a medium-security facility close to New York City.
GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT
Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to two further charges. Awaiting sentence
Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.
Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.
GUILTY: RICK GATES
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence
Gates was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.
GUILTY AND JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, and reported to prison in November. Served 12 days and released on December 7, 2018
Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank.
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: RICHARD PINEDO
Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Sentenced to a year in prison
Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities.
He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands on his release
Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.
GUILTY: W. SAMUEL PATTEN
Pleaded guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a lobbyist while doing work for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting sentence
Patten, a long-time D.C. lobbyist was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arranging an illegal $50,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration.
He arranged for an American ‘straw donor’ to pay $50,000 to the inaugural committee, knowing that it was actually for a Ukrainian businessman.
Neither the American or the Ukrainian have been named.
CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK
Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. At large, probably in Russia
Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.
He has been linked to Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia – effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller’s team.
INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS
Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. They remain at large in Russia
Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud.
Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list – which is not made public – and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S.
INDICTED: MICHAEL FLYNN’S BUSINESS PARTNERS
Bijan Kian (left), number two in now disgraced former national security adviser Mike Flynn’s lobbying company, and the two’s business partner Ekim Alptekin (right) were indicted for conspiracy to lobby illegally. Kian is awaiting trial, Alptekin is still to appear in court
Kian, an Iranian-American was arrested and appeared in court charged with a conspiracy to illegally lobby the U.S government without registering as a foreign agent. Their co-conspirator was Flynn, who is called ‘Person A’ in the indictment and is not charged, offering some insight into what charges he escaped with his plea deal.
Kian, vice-president of Flynn’s former lobbying firm, is alleged to have plotted with Alptekin to try to change U.S. policy on an exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who is accused by Turkey’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of trying to depose him.
Erdogan’s government wanted him extradited from the U.S. and paid Flynn’s firm through Alptekin for lobbying, including an op-ed in The Hill calling for Gulen to be ejected. Flynn and Kian both lied that the op-ed was not paid for by the Turkish government.
The indictment is a sign of how Mueller is taking an interest in more than just Russian involvement in the 2016 election.