Will FARA Violation Prosecutions Extend to Media Organizations?

April 23, 2019 Updated: May 4, 2019


Jesse Liu, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and John Demers, head of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Security Division (NSD), unsealed a grand jury indictment of Gregory Craig, who served as White House counsel to Barack Obama, on April 11.

It’s the NSD that is tasked with enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a law passed by Congress that requires all persons working on behalf of a foreign government or entity to disclose that by registering and affirming they are representing foreign and not U.S. interests in their influencing activities.

The unsealed indictment states that when agents of the NSD’s FARA Unit questioned Craig about his past lobby activities on behalf of Ukraine, he lied to them under oath.

The indictment states:

“Craig, 74, of Washington, D.C., was indicted by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for willfully falsifying and concealing material facts from the FARA Unit, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(1), and for making false and misleading statements to the FARA Unit, in violation Title 22, United States Code, Section 618(a)(2).”

This indictment of Craig sprang directly from the Mueller special counsel’s investigation of Paul Manafort, which looked into the former Trump campaign chairman’s illegal lobbying for Ukraine.

In a recent column, entitled “You Can’t Put America First Until Washington’s Foreign Bribery Industry Has Been Shut Down,” I brought up the subject of the massive foreign bribery industry that operates in Washington. It’s an industry that puts U.S. foreign and even domestic policy up for sale to the highest bidder.

Foreign governments and political factions within some foreign states don’t just pay bribes to our politicians for favorable policy, they give money to media outlets to publish their propaganda, while pretending it’s coming from a neutral American source.

Many top Fake News outlets are now very, very dependent on the cash they get paid to publish stories from these well-paying clients. Here’s my column from a few months ago about that: “The Paid-Propaganda-As-News Scam.”

The Epoch Times has been on the cutting edge of revealing just how far China is going to subvert U.S. institutions, and not just the Congress or various federal agencies, but also the American news media.

Here’s what most people haven’t figured out yet: it’s assumed that only “politicians” or people who go around Washington calling themselves lobbyists are in danger of being found to be illegal foreign agents because they didn’t register under FARA.

This isn’t true.

Anybody with influence who takes money from a foreign power to lobby on their behalf without disclosing that by registering under FARA is breaking the law.

This includes–are you sitting down?—members of the U.S. news media.

Let me tell you the dirty secret that has the “smart” Fake News reporters all over the DNC Media freaking out. They took big money from foreign governments and factions to publish their propaganda disguised as “news coverage” to sway public opinion and affect U.S. foreign policy. That makes them unregistered foreign agents. Yes, just like Paul Manafort and, allegedly, Gregory Craig.

Understand the difference:

If a country such as China openly paid some U.S. media outlet to produce a propaganda newspaper/network show that argued for their interests above U.S. interests as a way to try to sway public opinion, there would be nothing wrong with that. That is, as long as it was being done openly.

Everybody would know “That newspaper/TV show represents China, etc. They are supposed to be giving the Chinese government’s point of view on stuff, and are trying to lobby/convince people to give China’s government what it wants. We know they get paid to do that.”

What would be illegal, however, is if China or whoever is making under-the-table payments so that a supposedly neutral U.S. media outlet publishes or airs China’s propaganda, without that outlet disclosing that it’s a paid agent working on behalf of the Chinese government.

Many in the DNC Media Complex didn’t just become paid political hacks for one certain U.S. political party; they became active foreign agents working for foreign clients and using their influence to publish stories and lobbying on behalf of those foreign clients, without ever admitting that’s what they were doing.

And right now, thanks to special counsel Robert Mueller and his crack team of 13 Angry Democrats, the entire country just got a years-long education on just what A Very Bad Thing it is to be an undeclared foreign agent.

What’s that hand I see there? “But doesn’t the First Amendment protections of the press allow them to engage in this kind of behavior and not be legally liable?”

Why no, in fact, there is no “First Amendment/Press Exception” clause in the FARA law that says “but you can totally do this if you are a reporter or a newspaper editor.” I want to stress that: there is no press exception in the FARA law.

So it’s not just the smart lawyers and the lobbyists and the consultants in D.C. who have figured out where this is all headed. Editors and “journalists” at many news outlets who became paid foreign agents long ago are suddenly waking up to the danger.

I believe we will see many DNC Media outlets’ relationships with foreign governments and political factions within foreign countries exposed, and some top media people could face charges for not filing as foreign agents.

As I’ve said several times and will continue to say: Whatever they thought they were doing or were going to accomplish, Mueller and his team were led and guided and directed into doing something else: Willingly or not, they proved to the entire country that violating FARA is a big deal and people should go to jail for it.

Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.