For years, lobbyists treated the Foreign Agent Registration Act the same way some drivers treat speed limits — not something to worry about if there isn’t a speed trap around the corner.
Most people registering as advocates for foreign governments or political parties didn’t bother to file their paperwork on time, according to the Department of Justice’s inspector general. Some didn’t register at all.
But that’s changing now that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is prosecuting violations. Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, is facing charges of undisclosed lobbying on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin government.
As President Trump appears to lurch from crisis to crisis on the world stage, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have quietly maneuvered to constrain an impulsive commander in chief, the latest sign of a national security team that is increasingly challenging the president.
Officials say the two senior Cabinet officers have slow-rolled requests for options on a wide range of policy goals, including exiting the Iran nuclear disarmament deal, reacting to missile strikes into Saudi Arabia by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, pressuring longtime ally Pakistan by cutting U.S. military aid, and possible limited airstrikes on North Korea's nuclear infrastructure.
It may be hard to remember, but there was a time when the National Rifle Assn. was a bipartisan organization.
During the 1992 election cycle, the NRA contributed 37% of its congressional campaign donations to Democrats. Republicans got the lion's share — 63% of the $1.8 million the group gave that year — but it was not as if the NRA was a pseudo-wing of the party.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly sought again Friday to defend his role in handling the ouster of Rob Porter, who remained in President Trump’s inner circle at the White House for months after notifications from the FBI that Porter’s two ex-wives had accused him of spousal abuse.
“We didn’t cover ourselves in glory in terms of how we handled that,” Kelly told reporters Friday, referring to days of conflicting statements from the White House after Porter resigned on Feb. 6. “It was confusing.”
But Kelly insisted that his overall conduct was appropriate, and that he never considered resigning over the episode, as some media reports had suggested.
The Trump administration Friday ordered a permanent reduction in U.S. personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, the most significant step yet in reversing former President Obama’s efforts to restore full diplomatic ties with Cuba.
In response to a string of mysterious ailments reported by two dozen American officials or their relatives stationed in Havana, the State Department last year ordered a temporary transfer out of Cuba of most key personnel and their families.
Friday’s order makes the staff reduction permanent by declaring Havana an “unaccompanied post,” meaning no families are permitted, and by assigning only “the minimum personnel necessary to perform core diplomatic and consular functions.” The statement did not give a number, but it’s believed to be fewer than 30, the same size as the skeleton staff that has been working in the mission since the first departures were ordered.
No one knows how special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's sprawling investigation into Russian political interference and potential White House obstruction will end, but Mueller is already changing how the nation's capital does business.
His prosecutors have taken the rare step of pursuing some of President Trump's former senior aides for failing to register as lobbyists for foreign governments, rattling the rarefied world of highly-paid professionals who advocate in Washington for traditional foreign allies, unsavory strongmen and other overseas clients.
After two weeks of shifting musings on gun measures, President Trump is expected to miss a self-imposed deadline to produce specific proposals on Friday, according to aides — in the latest sign of how chaos in the White House is hampering policymaking.
Lawmakers from both parties have told Trump they can succeed in passing the comprehensive package of gun safety proposals he's asked for only if he leads the debate, and provides Republicans with political cover to stand up to the formidable gun lobbies in a perilous election year. Even so, many fear the president won't keep his word given his reversals in the past, notably on immigration and healthcare.
The difficulties the administration has had in forging and communicating a policy to respond to the shooting deaths of 17 students and staff members at a Florida high school two weeks ago highlight how, more than a year into his tenure, Trump has been unable to translate his impulses into actual legislative proposals, or stick to positions long enough to do so.