There are prominent criminal cases moving forward, significant criminal cases being charged, and unprecedented resources and personnel being dedicated to it. From all directions, FARA is being enforced like never before. — Brandon Van Grack, partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster (previous chief of the FARA unit)
There are prominent criminal cases moving forward, significant criminal cases being charged, and unprecedented resources and personnel being dedicated to it. From all directions, FARA is being enforced like never before. — Brandon Van Grack, partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster (previous chief of the FARA unit)
How a tiny legal office inside the Justice Department is tormenting Trumpworld
  • The Justice Department's policing of foreign influence is bedeviling Trumpworld figures.
  • Rudy Giuliani and the Trump ally Tom Barrack caught prosecutors' attention over foreign dealings.
  • Behind the scenes, a small team is staffing up and pressuring lobbyists for foreign governments.
When Brandon Van Grack left the Justice Department in January, stepping down from a top role policing foreign influence, his government colleagues sent him off with a curious going-away present: a pink cat piñata.

Before becoming a gag gift, the piñata sat in the office as a mascot of sorts for the Justice Department unit tasked with enforcing a decades-old federal law requiring the disclosure of foreign lobbying. It was a tongue-in-cheek totem, a nod to what the unit saw as the unfair notion that it took a lax approach to enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, until the special counsel Robert Mueller's team returned the pre-World War II law to prominence with high-profile prosecutions of Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and other MAGA acolytes.

Since parting ways with its papier-mâché party prop, the FARA unit has only continued to shed its reputation as a feeble and flimsy Justice Department backwater.

More broadly, the Justice Department has in recent months escalated its enforcement efforts, mostly notably with investigations and prosecutions of prominent Trumpworld figures suspected of monetizing their access to Trump's administration by working illegally for foreign governments and other overseas powers.

"The Justice Department and FARA unit haven't skipped a beat in the last six months and, if anything, have continued the historic ramp-up of FARA enforcement," said Van Grack, who served in Mueller's special-counsel office before becoming the FARA unit chief in 2019.

Jennifer Gellie, a federal prosecutor with experience in espionage cases, replaced Van Grack in January as the chief of the FARA unit.

Van Grack, now a partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster, told Insider that the Justice Department's approach to foreign influence had featured "a little bit of everything."

"There are prominent criminal cases moving forward, significant criminal cases being charged, and unprecedented resources and personnel being dedicated to it," he said. "From all directions, FARA is being enforced like never before."


The Justice Department's scrutiny of foreign influence has bedeviled Trump associates. In the face of criminal prosecution, they've admitted to lobbying for foreign interests without disclosing their activities as federal law requires.

The criminal investigations have captivated the nation.
Read the full article: https://www.businessinsider.com/fara-foreign-agent-enforcement-justice-department-doj-rudy-giuliani-trump-2021-8