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Mueller’s ‘Foreign Agent’ Prosecutions May Lead to Probes of Green Groups

Kevin Mooney, The Daily Signal

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. […]

‘Cozy’ With the Chinese

If there is genuine concern on the part of Mueller, the media, and other members of Congress about Russian meddling in American affairs, the Arizona Republican said, then environmental advocacy groups working to disrupt American energy while receiving financial support from the Russian government should be subjected to investigations. 

Gosar, who also sits on the House Natural Resources Committee, took the opportunity to focus attention on the relationship between environmental activists and China’s communist government. In 2018, the Natural Resources Committee sent letters to several environmental groups, inquiring about their relationship with government entities in China and Japan.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, has “gotten cozy with the environmentally unfriendly Chinese government while suing the U.S. government whenever it can,” Gosar said during his exchange with Fitton.

He suggested that the environmental group’s lawsuits against the Navy and its “weapons development programs” could work to the strategic advantage of China’s communist government.

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