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Justice Dept. to Start Enforcing Foreign Agents Registration Act

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#1 LFC

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Posted 07 March 2019 - 06:02 PM

FARA is the law that they used to nail Manafort to the wall. Apparently enforcement has been pathetically lax for decades but not anymore.


As former Trump Campaign chairman Paul Manafort faces dual sentencing hearings this week and next, the Justice Department is planning on invigorating enforcement of the little-known law that brought down the 69-year old lobbyist: the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has brought in a prosecutor formerly with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to manage its overhauled FARA unit.

That prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, will oversee the unit as it takes on a newly aggressive posture that may focus more on bringing criminal cases under the statute, which has long been an area of lax enforcement.

John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, told an audience of white collar litigators in New Orleans on Wednesday that the Justice Department would switch “from treating FARA as an administrative obligation and regulatory obligation to one that is increasingly an enforcement priority.”

According to a September 2016 Justice Department Inspector General report, seven criminal FARA cases were brought in 50 years of enforcement, from 1966 to 2016.

But after an uptick in activity over the past few years that’s seen Manafort plead guilty under FARA and white shoe law firm Skadden Arps pay $4.6 million to settle alleged violations of the law, the Justice Department appears poised to take a more aggressive stance.

David Laufman, the DOJ’s counterintelligence chief until 2018 who helped oversee aspects of the Mueller investigation and the recent high-profile foreign lobbying charges, told TPM that appointing a former special counsel prosecutor specifically to oversee FARA suggested that the department would “further the surge” in enforcement.

“It could consist of lobbying on Capitol Hill, it could consist of having op-eds written in newspapers read by members of Congress, it could manifest itself in many ways,” Laufman said, speaking of foreign influence efforts that he saw while in government. “I wanted to make sure that we were following up in every instance that there was reason to believe that an entity or individual had an obligation to register.”

As part of the Skadden case, former Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig reportedly remains under investigation for allegedly failing to register as a lobbyist for the Ukrainian government. Craig was hired by Ukraine’s Justice Ministry in 2012 to write a report whitewashing the prosecution of a political opponent, and then oversaw its dissemination to American journalists. Skadden got a letter from the FARA unit in 2014 asking whether it should register under the law.

The DOJ’s FARA unit lacks the power to issue administrative subpoenas. Currently, it can only send letters, as it did to Skadden in the Ukraine lobbying case, where the firm also was accused of misrepresenting its lobbying after receiving a letter from the DOJ’s FARA unit.

“That’s something we’re taking a hard look at,” CNN quoted Demers as saying. “Do I think [Skadden] would have behaved differently if they had received a subpoena versus they had just received a letter? Yes.”

Demers reportedly went on to make a specific, albeit oblique reference to Craig.

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#2 golden_valley

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Posted 07 March 2019 - 07:36 PM

View PostLFC, on 07 March 2019 - 06:02 PM, said:

FARA is the law that they used to nail Manafort to the wall. Apparently enforcement has been pathetically lax for decades but not anymore.

Typical closing of the barn door after the horse ran away.

#3 Bact PhD

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Posted 07 March 2019 - 08:19 PM

View Postgolden_valley, on 07 March 2019 - 07:36 PM, said:

Typical closing of the barn door after the horse ran away.
Better late than never?
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#4 George Rowell

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Posted 08 March 2019 - 04:24 AM

In Aus you can always drive 10km/h more than stated speed limit. That is unless the cop does not like you and then it becomes selective law enforcement.

In the States very few businessmen bothered to register as foreign agents. Manafort has been up to all sorts of shady stuff but the FARA thing looks - well selective. Same goes with the overt spy Maria Butina who published all her misdeeds on facebook.
A doctor knows a little about a lot. A specialist knows a lot about a little. In time the doctor knows less and less about more and more and the specialist knows more and more about less and less until ultimately the doctor knows nothing about everything and the specialist knows everything about nothing.

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