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DOJ Vows Strong Foreign Agent Probes Despite Two Big Losses

Jay Bratt, head of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence division vowed Thursday that the department would not be deterred by a string of legal setbacks in its attempts to crackdown on foreign influence efforts. “We will continue to bring hard cases,” Jay Bratt told a conference for Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) lawyers, Politico reports. Bratt was pushing back on the suggestion by some FARA practitioners that the high-profile acquittal of longtime Trump fundraiser Tom Barrack on charges of illegal foreign lobbying last month could trigger a retrenchment by the department.

In his first public comments on the cases of Barrack and Steve Wynn, the casino magnate and GOP megadonor who won the dismissal of a DOJ lawsuit to compel him to register as a foreign agent, Bratt said that the defeats do not “deter us in making those tough choices.” He cite the indictment of former Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) for allegedly failing to register as a foreign agent of the Venezuelan government. The department has seen some success in its ramped up enforcement of foreign agent laws, which traces back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Some of that is visible in simple compliance. Bratt said that the number of active FARA registrants continued to trend upward last year, and that the FARA Unit is growing in size.

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