Trump Nervous As Senate Dems Propose Crackdown On Foreign Lobbyists
The Trump administration is reportedly scrambling for safety after Democratic senators on Monday introduced legislation specifically designed to punish people who violate foreign lobbying laws.
As reported by The Hill, Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Monday introduced the Foreign Agent Lobbying Transparency Enforcement Act, which would give DOJ the ability to crackdown on people who don’t comply with the law.
The move comes months after several high-profile figures tied to President Trump retroactively registered as foreign agents: Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires individuals working on behalf of a foreign government or official to register with the Justice Department within 10 days of signing a contract.
Although violating the FARA is a felony, DOJ operates on voluntary compliance, which means that a person can evade trouble if they file paperwork — even if it’s late.
Incredibly, the Justice Department does not have the power to subpoena anyone it suspects may not be following the law, and mostly relies on media reports or tips from other agencies.
Well, that’s about to change.
“When lobbyists hide their relationships with foreign governments, it is not just a conflict of interest — it is dangerous to our national security,” Senator Duckworth said in a statement.
“These former Trump staffers, like countless other lobbyists, failed to disclose their status as foreign agents and they should face the consequences instead of being allowed to continue to operate with impunity.”
The registration laws on foreign lobbying are routinely flouted, according to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
Lawmakers in both chambers are looking for ways to reform FARA.
“Why would DOJ expect people to register and to be transparent, when they aren’t really punished for failing to register?” asked Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) at the Senate hearing last Wednesday.
The White House did not respond Political Dig’s request for comment.