A gavel sits on a desk inside the Court of Appeals at the new Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center, which celebrated its official opening on Monday Jan. 14, 2013, in Denver. 
Photo by Brennan Linsley/AP

Official from Trump transition team convicted of illegal lobbying

The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/23/19, 9:00 PM ET

Another former Trump aide convicted; Flynn strategy suffers blow

Rachel Maddow reports on the conviction of former Trump transition official Bijan Kian, and what it means for Kian’s former business partner, disgraced Trump NSA Mike Flynn, who withdrew his cooperation with prosecutors in the Kian case and has yet to
Rachel Maddow reports on the conviction of former Trump transition official Bijan Kian, and what it means for Kian’s former business partner, disgraced Trump NSA Mike Flynn, who withdrew his cooperation with prosecutors in the Kian case and has yet to
The timing of the court developments was itself remarkable. Less than a day before Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony on his investigation into the Russia scandal, the special counsel’s team won an important case against a criminal defendant.

A jury on Tuesday convicted a one-time business partner of former national security adviser Michael Flynn on charges he illegally acted as a Turkish agent when he and Flynn undertook a project to discredit an exiled cleric wanted by Turkey’s government.

Bijan Kian was convicted on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent, according to Josh Stueve, a spokesman for the US attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 18.

As Rachel explained on the show last night, the Mueller investigation has led to a great many indictments and guilty pleas, but there have only been two jury trials. The first led to the conviction and imprisonment of Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The second was Kian’s conviction yesterday.

Much of the coverage about these developments emphasized Kian’s role as Michael Flynn’s former business partner, which he was. But let’s also not forget that Kian, now convicted for having served as an unregistered agent of a foreign power, was also one of the top officials on the Trump transition team working on intelligence issues, including helping choose intelligence-agency leaders for the Republican administration.

In fact, Kian juggled both responsibilities simultaneously. In other words, a former top member of the president’s transition team was also illegally on the payroll of a foreign government.

At this point, Kian is awaiting sentencing, but there’s also the matter of how his case produced new information about Michael Flynn, the disgraced former White House national security adviser, who is also awaiting sentencing.

Imagine how much worse it would be if Trump didn’t hire “only the best” people.