The Department of Justice has sued former Republican National Committee Chair Steve Wynn to force him to register as a foreign agent. The DOJ alleges that between June and August 2017, the billionaire casino mogul acted on behalf of the government of China to urge the federal government to deport a Chinese national suspected by the Chinese of bribery and corruption. The lawsuit marks the first time in over 30 years that the Foreign Agents Registration Act has been enforced.
Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s national security division, had this to say:
“The filing of this suit – the first affirmative civil lawsuit under FARA [the Foreign Agents Registration Act] in more than three decades – demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring transparency in our democratic system. Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people a right to know.”
The DOJ lawsuit contends that in 2017, Wynn – at the request of China’s vice minister for public security, Sun Lijun – asked the Trump Administration to cancel the visa and block asylum for a Chinese national that he identified who was accused of bribery, corruption, and sexual assault. That Chinese national was later revealed to be Guo Wengui, a close associate of Steve Bannon, the former White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to Donald Trump.
The Justice Department asserts that passport information and pictures of Guo Wengui were passed along to then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who resigned a month later, at a government dinner.
Elliott Broidy, the former deputy RNC finance chairman, is reported to be the one who recruited Wynn for the lobbying effort. Broidy pled guilty in October 2020 to acting as a foreign agent – accepting millions to lobby the Trump Administration on behalf of the Malaysian and Chinese governments. He turned over $6.6 million to the federal government as part of his plea deal. Wynn reportedly felt compelled to accept the request because of his lucrative business operating casinos in Chinese-controlled Macao which could be negatively impacted by any displeasure he caused senior Chinese leaders.
Wynn has had three chances since 2018 to comply with the DOJ’s request. He resigned as RNC chair in January 2018, and as CEO of Wynn resorts just months later, amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Guo Wengui, who fled China in 2014, is a known associate of Trump adviser and pardoned felon, Steve Bannon. An outspoken critic of China, Wengui launched a campaign again China’s communist government with Bannon. According to Broidy, China’s vice minister for public security, Sun Lijun vowed to release American hostages held in China – per The Washington Post.
It should be noted that Steve Bannon was arrested on Wengui’s yacht in August 2020 for fraud in a case related to his “Build the Wall” grift that defrauded Trump supporters of over $25 million.
According to the DOJ’s suit, Wynn made several attempts to meet with then-President Trump and his associates. Wynn, through his attorneys, has denied any wrongdoing.
“Steve Wynn has never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and had no obligation to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” Wynn claims.
With the suit from the Justice Department, Wynn will now have to prove his claims in court.
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