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Flynn business partner's conviction reinstated

The conviction of a former business partner of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was reinstated by a federal appeals court Thursday. 

Bijan Kian was convicted in 2019 in an Alexandria, Va., court of acting as an unregistered agent of Turkey. However, Judge Anthony Trenga overturned the conviction, saying the evidence prosecutors presented did not sufficiently make their case.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond issued a unanimous ruling Thursday saying Trenga should have allowed the jury’s conviction to stand.

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Trenga “gave insufficient deference to the ‘almost invariable assumption of the law’ that the jury was capable of following its ... instructions,” ruled Judge James Wynn, an Obama appointee. Wynn was joined by Judges Paul Niemayer, a George H.W. Bush appointee, and Barbara Milano Keenan, another Obama appointee.

The case, which was an extension of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigation into Russian election meddling, centered around Flynn and Kian’s efforts to slander Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric living in the U.S. 

Prosecutors accused the two men of working on behalf of Ankara while they were partners in the Flynn Intel Group, citing payments and instructions Kian received from a Turkish middleman communicating with the government there. 

Gülen has been a top target for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has blamed the cleric for a failed coup and cast him as an American stooge working to undermine him.

Besides reinstating Kian’s conviction, the appeals court also shot down his request for a new trial, meaning that his case will return to Alexandria for sentencing. He can still appeal his conviction.

Flynn was never convicted over the Gülen dealings, but he did plead guilty to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with the top Russian diplomat in the United States before working to withdraw his plea. He was later granted a full pardon in November by then-President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE.