Jed Shugerman was quoted in a Politifact article about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s indictment, and former Trump foreign-policy aide George Papadopoulos pleading guilty to lying, during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.
The special counsel’s investigation into possible ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia escalated dramatically with news that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate were indicted on a dozen felony counts, including money laundering.
Manafort and [Rick] Gates have been charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, for failing to disclose lobbying activities on behalf of foreign entities. Congress passed this law in 1938 amid worries that foreign governments would try to infiltrate the United States.
The law requires agents of foreign interests to register with the Justice Department and outline the terms of their agreement, as well as income and expenditures on behalf of the foreign interest, and updating their disclosure every six months.
“Lawmakers wanted to create barriers to infiltration and to expose hidden foreign lobbying on questionable positions that don’t focus on ‘patriotic purposes,’ ” said Jed Shugerman, a professor at Fordham Law School.
Shugerman said there are longstanding statutes on the books that outlaw money laundering and that require disclosure of foreign assets and bank accounts. He said money laundering laws have been rewritten through the years to create a new tool to combat organized crime and those who assist it.
Statutes that make it illegal to provide false statements date back to before the Civil War, he said.
Shugerman noted that a person does not need to be under oath when they make a false statement to the FBI in order to violate the law. That makes the law broader than perjury laws, which makes it illegal to tell untruths in a judicial proceeding after a witness has sworn an oath.
In a separate development, foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos agreed to plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
While it’s not clear exactly what Papadopoulos’ guilty plea means, it contains “all kinds of tea leaves and hints about what’s coming next,” said Shugerman.
He believes it’s no coincidence that it was revealed just after Manafort’s indictment, and said it puts additional pressure on Manafort to cooperate with the special counsel.
“It triggers the isolation of Manafort, who realizes how much jeopardy he’s in,” Shugerman said.
Shugerman’s Politifact quote was also cited in a International Business Times article.