By Glynn Wilson –
A day after Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced the appointment of a special counsel to handle the investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, the relationship of President Donald J. Trump’s campaign team to Russia, and perhaps even collusion by the president himself, at least in his financial dealings with Russia, an attorney in Massachusetts filed a complaint requesting a criminal and civil investigation of Trump’s campaign manager Paul John Manafort, Jr. for failing to comply with the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 2005.
While it has been fairly widely reported that Manafort often lobbied on behalf of controversial foreign leaders such as Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, dictators Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko and guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, according to attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee he has never filed foreign agent registration papers with the U.S. Department of Justice as required by law.
“Under U.S. law, lobbying for foreign agents requires registration with the Justice Department,” Larrabee said in a letter to the Clerk of the House, obtained by the New American Journal, where impeachment proceedings would have to begin. “However, Manafort has not done so.”
Larrabee also filed the complaint seeking criminal and civil investigations with Special Counsel Robert S. Muller and the U.S. Attorney in D.C.
According to a number of news outlets and even his Wikipedia page, Manafort is a lawyer, a lobbyist and political consultant who served as campaign manager for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. He previously served as adviser to the U.S. presidential campaigns of Republicans Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole, and he is a senior partner in the firm of Davis, Manafort and Freedman.
Manafort is reportedly under active criminal and counterintelligence investigations by multiple federal agencies for issues related to the Trump campaign as well as questionable financial transactions.
“It appears to me that Mr. Manafort and his firms have failed to comply with the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 2005,” Larrabee says in his complaint.
Citing a few specifics, Larrabee says Manafort met with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, in person as a paid lobbyist on March 19, 2013. He attaches a record of this meeting. At that time he was engaged in lobbying on behalf of the pro-Russia Ukrainian Party of Regions, Victor Yanukovych, the pro- Russian Prime Minister of Ukraine, and the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a front group for Yanukovych and the Party of Regions.
He says it has been reported that Manafort has received more than $12 million in payments from Yanuckovych, the Party of Regions and the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. Then, on March 22, just three days later, Manafort, as well as former Congressmen John V. Weber, each made a political contribution of $1,000 to Congressman Rohrabacher “in connection with their lobbying.”
As Manafort and Weber jointly engaged in lobbying Congressman Rohrabacher, Larrabee says, both were obligated to disclose their lobbying activities.
“However, I have not located any lobbying reports filed by Mr. Manafort or his firms in reference to the lobbying activities that Mr. Manafort engaged in on behalf of his Ukranian or Russian clients for the 2013 time period,” Larrabee says. “Based on my investigation, it appears to me that Mr. Manafort and his firms have failed to comply with the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 2005, as amended.”
In addition to the request for criminal prosecution of Manafort, Larrabee requested that the U. S. Attorney’s Office initiate a civil enforcement action “to require Mr. Manafort to file appropriate lobbying reports.”
“The lobbying activities of Mr. Manafort are a matter of great public concern,” Larrabee said. “The public interest is harmed so long as he fails to file appropriate lobbying reports.”
In the complaint, Larrabee says Manafort engaged in money laundering, mail and wire fraud, and that he failed to file truthful tax returns and evaded income taxes. He also conspired with other individuals to violate federal law, including laws prohibiting money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud, and therefore is in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, RICO, which implies this was done as “part of an ongoing criminal organization.”
A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the Washington Post.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy, a Republican from California, said according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Post. Rohrabacher is known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
Read the letter and the complaint here.
© 2017, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.