Donald Trump has rewritten the book on national security. If you want to rise high in the ranks, just be an unreported foreign agent or lobbyist, ala Mike Flynn, and you’ll go far. The latest person to fit this particular role model is Richard Grenell, recently chosen by Trump to oversee all 17 intelligence agencies. ProPublica:
In 2016, the Magyar Foundation of North America paid Grenell’s consulting firm, Capitol Media Partners, $103,750 for “public relations” services, according to the foundation’s tax filing. The foundation was funded and supervised by Hungary’s government, according to records obtained by the Hungarian nonprofit news organization Atlatszo. The foundation’s director, Jo Anne Barnhart, had been a registered lobbyist for Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Grenell, however, did not register, even though public relations work on behalf of a foreign government falls squarely under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to lawyers specializing in the matter. FARA is the same law that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and former deputy campaign manager, Rick Gates, were convicted of violating.
The work for Hungary is Grenell’s second foreign consulting engagement that was not previously disclosed. On Friday ProPublica reported that Grenell did consulting work on behalf of the Moldovan politician Vladimir Plahotniuc, who the U.S. later said was involved in corruption.
Orban and Plahotniuc were both clients of Arthur Finkelstein, who was a Republican political operative for four decades and is credited with having demonized the word “liberal.” “Call your opponent a liberal again and again until voters believe it,” was his strategy. That same strategy may be tried in this year’s election with the word socialist.
In any event, a payment of at least $5,000 from Finkelstein’s firm appears on Grenell’s personal financial disclosure form, filed when he became ambassador to Germany. Finkelstein represented former congressman Connie Mack, who was Orban’s lobbyist in Washington, for those of you who like to connect all the dots between the GOP and foreign dictators. Apparently, it’s a connection that Trump can’t live without, because the closer you look into who he nominates and who they in turn do business with secretively, you find dictatorships and unreported financial transactions not too far behind.
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