The top political news on Friday was the unexpected resignation of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, which was the result of emerging revelations that his political consulting firm, DMP International, had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation in the period 2012-2014 on behalf of Ukraine’s then ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government (which was overthrown in a CIA-orchestrated coup in early 2014).
As the AP reported yesterday, the lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine’s then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. Furthermore, under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (or FARA), US entities who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders or political parties must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department.
The 1938 U.S. foreign agents law is intended to track efforts of foreign government’s unofficial operatives in the United States. A violation is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The issue is that neither Paul Manafort, nor his deputy, Rick Gates, disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law. “There is no question that Gates and Manafort should have registered along with the lobbying firms,” said Joseph Sandler of Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, a Democratic-leaning Washington law firm that advises Republican and Democratic lobbyists. – READ MORE