Epoch Times: ALEXANDRIA—One of the last cases brought by former special counsel Robert Mueller seemed to be on the brink of getting thrown out by a federal judge on July 18. Ultimately, District Judge Anthony Trenga allowed the case to continue, albeit with reservations, saying the main charge, a conspiracy, rested on “very circumstantial” and “speculative” evidence.
The case alleges that Bijan Rafiekian, former partner in Gen. Michael Flynn’s lobbying firm, and Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman, conspired to lobby in the United States on behalf of Turkey without disclosing it to the U.S. government. They were also accused of lying on foreign lobbying registration forms. Only Rafiekian is standing trial as Alptekin doesn’t live in the United States.
The defense argued that the case was too weak, only showing that Rafiekian acted in concert with Flynn and Alptekin, but not that the intent of the concerted effort was to secretly lobby for Turkey. The jury would have to speculate to reach a verdict, one of Rafiekian’s lawyers said, invoking Rule 29, which directs federal judges to toss a case where the evidence presented by the government “is insufficient to sustain a conviction.”
The prosecution disagreed, saying Rafiekian’s, Alptekin’s, and Flynn’s “matching lies are extremely persuasive circumstantial evidence of the conspiracy.” read more