A federal judge in Virginia, Anthony Trenga, has issued a ruling acquitting Bijan Rafiekian, who was convicted on July 23, 2019 after a jury trial on charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Turkey.
Rafiekian, the memorandum opinion says, "was the Vice-Chairman, Director, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Flynn Intel Group," which he cofounded with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was eventually named President Trump's national security adviser.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act was passed in 1938 amid anxiety about German influence as World War II loomed. I've suggested that perhaps it's time for Congress to revisit the law with an eye toward narrowing its scope or even repealing it altogether. Federal prosecutors went after lawyer Greg Craig on similar charges and met a similar result.
Unexplored in the press coverage of both cases so far is whether there are any adverse professional consequences for the prosecutors who bring such losing cases. On the contrary, it appears that the culture of the Justice Department encourages such envelope-pushing, even if it leads to losses. As the Financial Times reported in 2017:
In 2002, long before he became the most famous director of the FBI since J Edgar Hoover, James Comey, then the US attorney in Manhattan, issued a warning to the young lawyers on his staff. Do not join "the Chickenshit Club", he said, meaning the prosecutors who only brought to trial cases they felt certain to win. Playing it safe, Comey said, was not justice. It was, to use the technical term, chickenshit.