The Department of Justice just referred a significant complaint (embedded below) against the powerful Republican Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for further investigation by Bob Muller’s Special Counsel Office in a letter exclusively provided to the Washington Press.
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House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-OH) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) both were hit with a complaint about accepting illegal campaign donations linked to indicted ex-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and his Ukrainian paymasters, funneled through a pair of high powered, DC lobbying firms. We first reported the criminal allegations against Manafort and Congressional Republicans in August.
The DoJ sent its unusual response to Massachusetts attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee, who drafted and filed a House Ethics Committee complaint and submitted it along with a criminal complaint this July to the Chief of the Public Integrity Division.
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Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has ostensibly recused himself from any matters related to the Special Counsel investigation, so it means that the DOJ’s letter to Larrabee, the attorney, was most likely sent on behalf of Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, intended to highlight the information to Mueller’s team of investigators.
Larrabee’s complaint alleges that Republican Congressmen Royce and Rohrabacher took campaign cash that was really a series of illegal “foreign donor straw contributions,” or donations made by one person legally on behalf of a foreign person or entity who isn’t eligible to donate money. It’s illegal for a politician to accept a “straw donation” or funds from one person donated in the name of another. He told us exclusively:
“With the referral of the complaint to the OSC, it is possible that lobbyists at Mercury/Clark & Weinstock will be indicted for failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and for conspiracy against the United States. Any evidence the Special Counsel obtains from the lobbyists, combined with the damning, documentary evidence in our complaints should provide prosecutors with more than enough proof to indict the three Congressmen.” – J. Whitfield Larrabee, Esq.
The AP reported today that the heads of both firms, Mercury LLC’s Vin Webber and the Podesta Group’s Tony Podesta are in fact under investigation by the Special Counsel.
At the center of the widening probe are Tony Podesta, a longtime Democratic operative, and Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman and leader of his own high-powered lobbying firm, Mercury LLC. The two men were hired as part of a multimillion-dollar lobbying effort directed by.
FBI agents working for Mueller are asking witnesses about meetings among Gates, Podesta and Weber to discuss the lobbying work in detail and any communication with representatives of a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, according to two people familiar with the interviews who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
Larrabee and a group of citizens also filed a follow-up criminal complaint with the FEC in mid-August, thirty days after notifying all of the Republican Congressmen and one Senator of the illegal donations, which is the period they have to give the money back.
None of them returned or donated the ill-gotten campaign cash to charity.
Rep. Rohrabacher – notoriously called Putin’s favorite Congressman – who was notified of Paul Manafort’s donation, which is even listed on the indicted Trump Campaign Chairman’s foreign registration forms, but according to a new report by Reuters, he is still refusing to disgorge the cash:
Through a spokesman, Rohrabacher indicated that he was not at this time prepared to reject Manafort – or the $1,000 donation the political operative made to his 2014 campaign.
“The Congressman advises his political opponents and the media to observe the presumption of innocence, still an American principle,” spokesman Ken Grubbs said in an email.
The attorney Larrabee believes that this is a grave mistake considering that Paul Manafort specifically noted that he donated Rep. Rohrabacher on his FARA registration forms.
I am confident that Special Counsel Mueller's office will investigate Dana Rohrabacher for knowingly accepting & keeping Manafort's dirty $.
— J Whitfield Larrabee (@jwlarrabee) November 1, 2017
One of the Republican lawmakers named in Larrabee’s FEC complaint, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), has already resigned, because of a scandal that rocked his office when the anti-abortion Congressman asked his mistress to get an abortion.
Paul Manafort spread cash around from Ukrainian paymasters to three lobbyists at Mercury (as well as some at the Podesta Group) but refused to say where the money came from to its chairman Vin Webber, who then donated money to the Republican lawmakers.
It’s only a matter of time before Paul Manafort’s scheme, to spend pro-Russian Ukrainian political party cash to influence Republican Congressmen who were serving on the foreign affairs committees, bursts into the forefront of the escalating scandals engulfing the Trump Administration and the GOP.
Here is the complete long format complaint:
Author’s note: This matter was later properly referred to the Special Counsel’s Office headed by Bob Mueller as there’s another office named the Office of Special Counsel at the Department of Justice.