Josh Rosenstein Talks Trump Pardons and How it Undercuts FARA Enforcement

Partner Josh Rosenstein shares his thoughts on Trump’s pardons.

At first glance these pardons, while perhaps unseemly, appear to amount to little more than political expedience: The president rewarding loyal supporters whom he viewed as having been targeted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe into Russian influence in the 2016 election. These include van der Zwaan, who has no known ties to the Trump administration.

But buried in the pardons issued in December was that of former Republican Rep. Mark Siljander(R-Mich.). Siljander pled guilty in 2010 for serving as an unregistered agent for the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA), in one of the rare early 2000s examples of criminal FARA enforcement. The US government at the time had designated the relief agency as a terrorist organization and accused it of funneling more than $1 million to Iraq, in violation of US sanctions .When these pardons are viewed together, a stark reality emerges. In the course of a few months, the president’s pardons wiped clean the records of some of the most prominent foreign influence actors in recent history, and undid much of the last decade’s successful FARA enforcement activity.

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