By invoking a law regulating foreign agents to pursue prosecution of former Trump campaign officials, special counsel Robert Mueller opened the door to more intense scrutiny of some U.S. environmental groups, according to legal analysts who say China and Russia use such groups to influence America’s energy policy.
But these legal analysts said they also see a danger that Mueller’s investigation could set a precedent for the Justice Department to “selectively enforce” the Foreign Agents Registration Act in a manner that undermines the rule of law and potentially jeopardizes national security.
The Trump administration, they say, should closely examine the relationship between environmental advocacy groups and foreign governments that are considered strategic competitors of the U.S.
“If the Mueller probe has any real benefit, it is that it opened the door for the Justice Department to employ FARA as a basis to investigate green groups that are undermining our country and aiding socialist/communist regimes,” lawyer Mark Fitzgibbons told The Daily Signal.
Because these same environmental groups persistently lobby for policy changes to restrict U.S. energy use and the projection of U.S. military power, the groups may operate at the direction and encouragement of hostile foreign actors, Fitzgibbons and other reform proponents argue.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act, which predates World War II, requires anyone who acts as an agent of foreign principals “in a political or quasi-political capacity” to disclose that relationship periodically, as well as “activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of those activities,” according to the Justice Department.
But because FARA has not been strictly enforced, little case history and precedent exist for investigations into the actions of possible foreign agents who decline to disclose their activities, Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a Washington-based nonprofit government watchdog, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.
Americans and their elected representatives have been deprived of the openness and transparency they need to evaluate the political activism and legal tactics of environmental advocacy groups, Fitton said.
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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