Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, supposedly into collusion between President Trump's election campaign and Russia, is casting light into dark corners of the Washington swamp where powerful political figures become highly paid agents of foreign governments.
The prominent Americans Mueller has indicted are all foreign agents. That is, they work as lobbyists or consultants for foreign governments, who paid them handsomely. This includes retired Gen. Michael Flynn, GOP operative Paul Manafort, and his consulting partner Rick Gates. None of these men were indicted or convicted for activities on the Trump campaign. The charge sheet against Manafort was generally for crimes allegedly committed in his lucrative work in the transnational, revolving-door lobbying industry centered on the federal capital.
George Papadopoulos, another Trump-world conviction by Mueller, was reportedly suspected of being an unregistered agent for Israel.
We learned last week that Mueller referred a handful of American lobbyists and consultants to federal prosecutors in New York for violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. These reportedly include President Barack Obama’s former White House counsel, Greg Craig, who became an agent for Ukrainian politicians who supported Russia's tyrant, President Vladimir Putin. Tony Podesta, a former Democratic congressional staffer and hugely successful lobbyist and fundraiser is also said to be among those sent by Mueller to New York prosecutors. He seems to have failed to register his work ties to Putin.
Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman and a senior adviser to GOP candidates, was another alpha lobbyist reportedly referred to federal prosecutors for investigation.
It’s cheering that federal prosecutors are getting serious about FARA. Lobbyist registration, foreign and domestic, has long been required by law, but not enforced. Lobbyists who abide by the law gripe privately about this, and about nonenforcement of the Lobbyist Disclosure Act and the fact that many avoided Obama’s scorn by simply deregistering while continuing to lobby. The Obama admini