Details are emerging around Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. The charges range a slew of crimes, including violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA.
In 2016, the Justice Department found that there have only been seven prosecutions based on a violation of FARA in 50 years. The language used by prosecutors suggest that the next person to face charges from Mueller could be former-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, according to Politico. Similar to Manafort, Flynn also registered as a foreign agent after the Justice Department prosecutors noted activity through his consulting firm.
Some lawyers are speculating that it would be hard for Mueller to try and pin down on FARA violations — unless he has something else to bring to the table. The language used by prosecutors regarding Manafort and Gates has many concerned about what’s to come.
“While criminal charges under FARA are not often brought,” the prosecutors started, “the facts set forth in the indictment indicate the gravity of the violation at issue based on the dollar volume of earning from the violation, its longevity, its maintenance through creation of a sham entity designed to evade FARA’s requirements, and its continuation through lies to the FARA unit.”
A former federal prosecutor, Jeff Cramer, elaborated on the language used by prosecutors. Cramer noted that the language was “odd” and that “This language could be a precursor to explain any future FARA charge, especially Flynn.”
Flynn, a retired Army general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, may meet some of the criteria prosecutors used when outlining the case. This factor is cause for speculation of Flynn’s possible indictment.
One example of this criteria is that Flynn reported, albeit late, that he was working on behalf of Turkey, which brought $530,000 in for his firm. However, this does not touch the “tens of millions of dollars” that Manafort and Gates collected for their work with Ukraine.
There are other factors that play into this equation. Manafort and Gates worked on behalf of Ukraine for nearly a decade. Flynn’s work with Turkey seemed to last no more than a couple of months.
Flynn registered his work in September of 2016 as a commercial lobbyist for a company called Inovo. He failed to mention that this company worked on behalf of Turkey. It is at this point that the phrase “sham entity” could come into play, depending on how Mueller plans on moving the investigation forward.
It is unknown at this time whether Flynn or anyone who was acting on his behalf lied directly to the Justice Department’s FARA office. This factor could also play into whether indictments are brought forward.
The charges Special Counsel Robert Mueller has leveled against Trump associates are crimes rarely prosecuted by federal authorities. Is Mueller fishing for anything he can find to tarnish the Trump Administration?
Jan Baran of the Wiley Rein law firm stated, “It sounds to me, if they really think they have a strong case, it will be on some other charges and they’ll tack on a FARA charge.” The reason being that many jurors could see just the filing aspect as a technicality.
The strangest aspect of all is how this situation with Flynn ties to Russia. Mueller’s Special counsel was tasked with finding out if there was collusion between the Trump administration and Russia. Flynn’s lobbying on behalf of Turkey seems hardly relevant to the situation. Time will tell what happens next as more indictments roll out.