WASHINGTON -- Prosecutors won't call former national security adviser Michael Flynn to testify against his former business partner, Bijan Kian, in his illegal-lobbying trial.
The decision, disclosed in documents unsealed Tuesday, is a reversal for prosecutors, who told a judge last month that they planned to call Flynn. The trial of Kian, whose formal name is Bijan Rafiekian, is set to start next week in Alexandria, Va.
Kian is charged with unlawfully lobbying in the U.S. on behalf of the Turkish government in 2016 and 2017. One of his alleged objectives was to turn U.S. political and public opinion against Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds responsible for fomenting an attempted coup and whose extradition he unsuccessfully sought. Kian denies wrongdoing.
Flynn, a retired U.S. Army general, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia's ambassador to the U.S. At his plea hearing, he also admitted to illegally lobbying for Turkey, though he wasn't charged with that offense. He and Kian were founders of the Flynn Intel Group lobbying business.
Prosecutors said they will ask U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga to find that Flynn was a co-conspirator with Kian, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Gillis said in the July 3 filing unsealed Tuesday. That would allow the U.S. to introduce evidence of out-of-court statements by Flynn, though the government "does not plan to call Flynn as a witness in its case in chief" -- leaving the door open to call him as a rebuttal witness.
"General Flynn followed the law," his attorney Sidney Powell said in an emailed statement. She added that Trenga "hasn't ruled on anything yet but unsealing. General Flynn is still cooperating with the government even if they don't call him as a witness."
Flynn served as President Donald Trump's national security adviser for three weeks before being ousted when the contacts with Kislyak came to light. His sentencing has been deferred until his cooperation is finished.
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