Monday's HOT MIC

Monday's HOT MIC

All attention is rightfully going to the indictments today, but as the Washington Examiner points out, charging an American representing a foreign nation for not filing paperwork with the government is rare and this may be a sign that things are about to change on that score.

FARA is hardly ever used to bring criminal charges, with fewer than 10 cases and one conviction since 1966 for working for foreign political interests without filing paperwork with the Justice Department. Experts see the law's use against Manafort as a sign that may change.

Tougher enforcement may be of particular concern to other subjects of Mueller’s probe into Russia's role in the 2016 election, such as former national security adviser Mike Flynn and Democratic super-lobbyist Tony Podesta, the experts said.

Flynn belatedly registered as a foreign agent of Turkey earlier this year, while Podesta reportedly became a subject of Mueller’s probe over his firm’s belated admission of work with Ukrainian interests. Podesta said Monday he's leaving the Podesta Group amid the probe.

Manafort's receipt of millions of dollars from pro-Russia interests in Ukraine is central to his indictment Friday by a grand jury. The charges were made public Monday, with Manafort and co-defendant Rick Gates alleged to have laundered the money to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Fallout from the indictments may hit NGOs in Russia:

Although he supports more enforced disclosure, Holman expressed concern about potential blowback abroad.

“The Department of Justice has historically been a very reluctant ‘cop on the beat’ when it comes to enforcing FARA,” Holman said. “Better enforcement of FARA is long overdue. Unfortunately, it is likely to be used by Putin to further crack down on civil rights NGOs in Russia.”

Over the last decade, there has been a veritable explosion of foreign lobbyists -- and those are just the lobbyists we know about. There are almost certainly some high powered Washington lobbyists who are representing foreign governments but don't want the extra scrutiny that a FARA disclosure brings.

Manafort and Podesta got greedy and are going to pay for it. But just out of curiosity, is anyone else noticing that none of this has to do with Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election?