tv Washington Journal Dan Pickard Discusses the Foreign Agents Registration... CSPAN July 30, 2017 8:01am-8:34am EDT
when i was part of the process in 2009 with the affordable care act, we reached out to republicans. that is one of the myths republicans use currently, that we never reached out to them. with just theting members, and our chairman at the time said to the republicans, is there any way we can write a health care reform package any of you can support? they just said no. in the senate, there were lots of republican amendments accepted. there were lots of concessions made in an attempt to get republican votes. none of them were. i think it is not good for the country whether it is democrat or republican when you pass a bill with only partisan votes. i would hope that would be the lesson. the other part of the lesson is don't be sure you can control your caucus or conference.
host: newsmakers airs today at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. we are joined next by dan pickard, an expert, legal experts in the area of the foreign agents registration act. because it ties into the russian investigation. the foreign agents registration act, tell us what that is and how that came to be in american law. fara is basically just a disclosure act. it requires individuals acting in the u.s. on behalf of foreign entities must register with the department of justice. the purpose of the statute is it does not necessarily authorized prohibitted -- or ensures theit
government is aware of entities in the u.s. acting on behalf of foreign governments. it was originally passed in 1938, as a result of agents on behalf of the german government before world war ii disseminating propaganda, trying to keep the u.s. neutral with regard to the war. it was clear at that time there was no law on the books that make sure the u.s. government and american people knew who was disseminating propaganda. it has been amended a couple times in the following decades. host: why is fara all of a sudden getting a lot of attention? guest: i have been practicing in the area of fara for almost 20 years. in the first decade, almost nobody knew the acronym fara. it was a little-known law,
really just reserved for people involved in the lobbying business. now in light of a couple of investigations or potential investigations involving political officials on both sides of the aisle, it has been in the news on a regular basis. host: when somebody comes to you as an attorney, and they want to register as a foreign agent, what sort of business are they involved in? what are they trying to do with the federal government? guest: there is really three prongs to the statute. the question most people come to first off is whether they need to register under the act. you need a foreign principal, which would be a foreign corporation, person, or government. you need an agent in the u.s., and it has to involve some sort of activity, political activity
or public relations activity. commercial activity is frequently excluded. legal work is frequently excluded. the majority of the time for people that need to register, they are representing a foreign government and involved in some type of lobbying activity or public relations. host: it could be a lobbyist in washington or other cities that may be representing all sorts of people but part of the representation may be the country of france or great companyor an individual in that country. guest: that is exactly right. generally there can be two types of issues. it can be very specific as far as a foreign country has a vested interest in one particular piece of legislation or a foreign affairs issue, or it can be more broad and image making. you used france as an example.
someone retains a public relations firm in d.c. to promote tourism in france or to make sure that france is open to foreign investment. that is also covered. pickard, guest is dan a legal experts in the area of the foreign agents registration act. it is 80 years old. 1938. talk to us about it in relation to the russian investigation. we welcome your questions about fara. (202) 748-8000 is the number for democrats. republicans, (202) 748-8001. independents and others, (202) 748-8002. we welcome your tweets as well. if you're joining us, this past week the senate foreign relations committee held a hearing on this very act. the gist is many members are
saying there is not a real tough enforcement on this act. in your experience, how often has somebody been prosecuted or questioned about failing to register? guest: criminal prosecutions are few and far between. it is the policy of the registration unit at fara, within the department of justice national security division, they are primarily motivated to make sure people comply with the act, register to meet the spirit of the statute so american people know who is engaged in these activities. they do criminal prosecutions every couple of years. the track record for the department of justice is pretty good. when they decide to bring an action, they are generally successful. i think that has been a large part of the debate because there are certain members on the hill
want to see more active enforcement. host: dianne feinstein brought up this issue. her view is there is not enough prosecution. here is what she had to say. [video clip] >> in september of 2016, the justice department reported that 62% of the registrations it had reviewed had been filed late. 50% were incomplete. i will let you draw your conclusions from that. authoritiesn is our don't take the law seriously, and we need to change that. there appears to be no meaningful penalty for late or incomplete filings, and over the past 50 years, the justice department has prosecuted only seven fara cases. instead, when violations are discovered, the department encourages compliance, creating
a system where there are no consequences for failing to follow the law. host: that is a judiciary committee hearing from this past week, focusing on that inspector general's report on fara. what is your take? guest: we have been following it carefully. i think the senator is absolutely correct that there is a large incidence of people filing registration statements late. under the law, you are supposed to register within 10 days. you are supposed to register before you have taken any action on behalf of that foreign principal. there has been considerable amounts of documented evidence of people registering late. that being said, we work with the department of justice in this office on a regular basis. they are smart, diligent, serious. i think they are very motivated
to make sure people comply with the law. host: has that changed at all with the change of administrations? guest: i have not seen it. we are talking about career department of justice officials who have established careers there, who take their responsibilities seriously. we have been part of investigative questions that come from the department of justice, audits on our clients' records. i think they remain committed. host: dan pickard, a partner in washington. the foreign agents registration act, we have a call waiting. first is john in new jersey. hello. caller: thank you for taking my call. i have a question.
if the president had dealings with a foreign government, such as russia, or he has interests that he was going to invest in russia before he was a candidate inould be or would he not be violation of that law, and would he have to register before running for president? thank you to the guest for indulging in my answer. guest: that is a great question. inenerally don't opine regards to specific factual situations that regard other people. in general, no. the foreign agents registration act requires both a foreign principal and someone acting in the u.s. as their agent.
basically, they are acting at the direction or control of a foreign person. i may be involved in business dealings in a foreign country. i may even be cooperating in business ventures they are or in the united states. the heart of the statute is supposed to address when people are acting in the u.s. the political area on behalf, for the benefit of that foreign government. host: question from twitter, our diplomats required to register as foreign agents? guest: no. there are a variety of exceptions, one would be for diplomats. it is not surprising. the purpose of the act is to make sure there is transparency, disclosures. diplomatic officials acting in the united states are not required to register under fara
because they are already credentialed by the state department. it is already public record that they are acting on part of their foreign government. host: give us a call. (202) 748-8000, that is the democrats line. (202) 748-8001 for republicans. all others, (202) 748-8002. hello to mark in florida. democrats line. caller: hello. my question to you is as far as to do having something with screwing up the election in 2016, if their agents did not change the voting tallies somehow, then how exactly did they screw up our election? i don't understand that. i am a democrat. believe me, i don't like donald trump at all.
it doesn't make sense to me. guest: i think there are some valid concerns in regard to the russian government's involvement in our election. the nexus with fara is fairly tenuous. informingo do with the american public with regards to agents in the u.s. that are involved in political activity, public relations activity. the scope of the concerns in regard to meddling with the election would not fall clearly within that type of concern with fara. issues in thethe investigation, paul manafort, is simply did he fail to register? guest: this is all based on
public information. generally, we haven't talked about the fact that mr. massport was late in -- manafort was late in filing his registration. it is my understanding he has now registered. all of these filings that take place with the registration unit are publicly available. it is easy to take a look at the information. you can go through everything that is included. registrations are updated every six months. host: if i go to the u.s. with the intent of doing business as a foreign agent, and i failed to register, is there of criminal penalty? guest: there are criminal penalties. you are potentially subject to a fine not exceeding $10,000 and a term of imprisonment up to five years.
host: we go to san antonio, texas, and we hear from clive. -- clyde. caller: hello to you both. . lamb toease ask mr consider weekend set aside times for millennials up to age 40. i would like to hear their input. as far as the foreign agents are concerned, this is nothing new. if you go back to camp phillips bookvin phillip's theocracy, we have done the same thing in other countries. there has always been this thing to wreck your competitors advantages over what it is that
you want or don't want, whether it is the business interest you are interested in more political things. question, is a moot except when you have a situation that seems to be occurring now amongst the trump paraphernalia, there are just too many people that seem to be involved with russia. it is very suspect. it seems to be something that needs serious looking into. host: can i pick up on his first comments on doing business overseas? what do other countries do in terms of americans, britain, france, that want to do business in those countries? guest: not a lot of countries have similar laws to the foreign
agents registration act. basic lobbyingin disclosure requirements. a couple of countries out there have been public we debating -- publicly debating. the u.k. in particular. host: what is their motivation in doing so? guest: the same motivation congress had in passing this in the first place. there is value in transparency. in democracy, you want to know when people are acting on behalf of the political interest of foreign governments. host: how many people have ever violatingcted of of the foreign agents registration act? interested inare getting more information on enforcement actions under fara,
you can go to the fara website. if you go to the frequently asked questions, there is a link to the enforcement page. there have been prosecutions and convictions under fara and related statutes. i was going to point out there was one as recently as 2014. on their webpage, they have the plea agreements and indictment for two other prosecutions from 2010. host: we have teresa on the line from illinois. caller: good morning. first, just a comment. it is a lot of hypocrisy going on with this russia thing because what is going on with the u.s. interfering in venezuelan politics, and the hing,us thing, -- syria t
so i think it is a lot of hypocrisy. my question is, is apec included? it is a political organization. are they registered under this foreign agents act? host: that is the american political israel -- guest: i don't know if they are registered. you can go to the fara webpage and they have a searchable database. it is important to recognize it is not just political activities , even if they have sympathies to foreign governments, there under theaction direction, control, or request. they have to be tasked by the foreign government with these activities. it is a good question. to find out who is registered, you can go to the website and
search. host: you can also go to our website and see the hearings this week on the foreign agents registration act. our guest is dan pickard, an attorney and expert in this area. talk about some of the challenges of knowing who is a foreign agent. [video clip] >> one of the challenges we face is that the companies may not even be controlled on paper by the government. they may just be a well-connected corporate enterprise not under the direction or control of the foreign government but whose whosests overlap and principal beneficiary is the foreign government. they are required to register. we tried to ferret out whether the principal beneficiary is the government. it is a challenge. host: it would seem that this is
the kind of work as an attorney trying to represent these people that just vetting where these people are coming from, whether the veracity of what they have to say is true. guest: there is an interesting legal issue here that the act covers representing foreign persons, corporations, and governments. if i am -- if someone in the u.s. is acting as the agent of a foreign person or corporation, they can choose to register under the lobbying disclosure act rather than fara. if you are representing a foreign political party, you must register under the fara. active in looking to see if its would be more appropriate to happen register under fara.
factual issue. host: is there any need for this to be updated? guest: there has been talk about updating as far as giving the department of justice more power and issuing subpoenas. i think the act works very well. there has been some reasonable disagreement in regard to the amount of enforcement actions. the registration unit frequently sending out requests two parties and requires them to explain why they have not registered for requests them to register. failure to provide accurate information is punishable. host: seems like a pretty specific area of legal work, how did you get involved? guest: it is interesting. i sit on the international trade group in our law firm. working on international trade disputes, and the other
half is security concerns. th involves issues wi economic embargoes and terrorism. fara is essentially a counterespionage statute. it fits nicely into that portfolio. host: our republican line. someone that works for an american political party, say the dnc for example, working with the ukrainian government, would they be required to register? guest: the issue with fara frequently comes back to whether there is a foreign principal that is directly or indirectly controlling the representation. if i work for u.s. entity, and it is the u.s. entity ultimately calling the shots, making the decisions, testing me with responsibilities, even if they potentially have relationships
with others, as a general rule you will not have a requirement to register. if you have a u.s. company or u.s. entity that is a middleman, and it is actually the foreign government that is tasking the u.s. entity, that is the type of thing the department of justice wants to register. host: a couple more minutes for your calls. (202) 748-8000 for democrats. (202) 748-8001 for republicans. all others, (202) 748-8002. new jersey, darrell on the democrats line. caller: good morning. this is an interesting topic. a couple of comments, there are lots of ways the russian government could have polluted to disrupt our election that had nothing to do with changing ballots in the ballot box. of youusing data to mine
as individuals provided by the russians so they could target negative coverage about hillary clinton. there is evidence that happened. the russian government never has to change ballots. there seems to be a loophole in fara, and that is a u.s. national who has no contact with a foreign entity who might want to pursue investment opportunities in another country might be advocating for policies that would benefit them even though those same policies would also benefit of foreign government. for example, someone wants to do business with the second bank in russia, they may not be operating under the direction of a foreign national, but the
policies might benefit of foreign entity. how does the justice department deal with that kind of willful? -- loophole? guest: it is a great observation. you are right, if i'm advocating on behalf of a foreign entity because it is in my interest, but i'm not acting under their direction or control, even if some benefit flows to them, i am not required to register under fara. the question becomes, and i think fara has a variety of tools as far as asking questions, whether a person in the u.s. is actually doing it for their own benefit or if it is being done at the request of the foreign principal. your observation is absolutely correct. if i'm doing this just because it is just in my own personal interest even if it is in the interest of a foreign principal, there's no real agency
relationship. there is no requirement to register. host: it seems you have to keep abreast of all the different sanctions now with north korea, iran, and russia. guest: that is a large part of our practice. sanctionsomic programs are administered by the department of treasury. there is a lot of action or movement going on in regard to cuba, iran, possibly more stuff in regard to sudan, syria, as well as department of the economicministers, embargoes for global terrorism. host: let's hear from bill in minnesota. go ahead. caller: thank you. thank you for taking my call. here, butbe off-topic
a lot of times we are getting a lot of immigrants from a lot of theocracy governments. it seems they go through the church to deal indirectly for some government entities. told those folks be required register under the foreign agents act if they were doing that in any capacity? guest: if i understand your correctly, the definition of foreign principals is pretty broad. it is not just limited to foreign governments or political parties. if you have someone in the u.s. acting on behalf of a foreign charity, there have been prosecutions in regard to that. -- there areuires three prompts, foreign principal, an agent, and they have to be involved in political
activity in the u.s. host: dan pickard. thank you for joining us this morning. host: there is more "washington journal" ahead. republican pollster patrick ruffini and democratic pollster michael bocian discuss public opinion and the key issues facing the trump presidency and the 115th congress. ahead more of your calls and tweets as "washington journal" continues.
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relationship with pole john paul ii. the extraordinary untold story of the 20th century. >> john paul ii had sent a cable to reagan, saying i am praying for you. now reagan sent a cable to the vatican, i am praying for you. it developed the world's most exclusive mutual prayer society. as for moscow, if they're worried at this point about a kinship between the pope and the president, now they better really worry about it. >> american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> "washington journal" continues. host: we have an hour or so to talk about politics on this sunday morning on "washington journal." we are joined by two pollsters, patrick ruffini, who is a republican pollster and strategist, and michael bocian,