Federal Politics

Published — June 22, 2017 Updated — Today at 10:22 pm EST

Jack Abramoff is back — as a registered lobbyist

Documents: disgraced influence king was helping Congolese score time with Trump

Introduction

Felonious former lobbyist Jack Abramoff is officially a lobbyist again.

Jack Abramoff, a former lobbyist who served more than three years in jail for conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud.
Gerald Herbert/AP

Or, at least, Abramoff was for several months during late 2016 and early 2017, as he attempted to schedule a meeting between Donald Trump and the controversial president of the Republic of Congo, according to Department of Justice records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

Abramoff, the documents detail, was aiding an Italian national hoping to earn a consulting contract with the Republic of Congo that, in part, sought to polish its image in the United States.

There’s no evidence that a meeting or phone call between Trump and Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso ever took place.

But the revelation that Abramoff formally registered as an agent working to advance the interests of a foreign government stands in stark contrast to the political reformist image Abramoff has cut for himself since he emerged from federal prison in 2010.

Abramoff this month filed his retroactive lobbying disclosures at the request of the Department of Justice and promptly terminated his association with the Italian national — Costel Iancu of the firm Global Scructures Group in Bucharest, Romania — and the Congolese government.

Abramoff, reached Wednesday evening, referred questions to his lawyer, Peter Zeidenberg of law firm Arent Fox.

Zeidenberg said he and Abramoff didn’t believe the filing under the Foreign Agent Registration Act was necessary, but submitted the disclosures after the Department of Justice, which administers FARA, requested them.

Under FARA, a person working on behalf of a foreign government to influence the U.S. government must file disclosures within 10 days of agreeing to act as a foreign agent — and before doing anything to benefit a foreign government.

“We didn’t necessarily have a meeting of the minds as to what was required under the law,” Zeidenberg said. “We just decided to file this.”

In a letter to the Department of Justice that Zeidenberg provided to the Center for Public Integrity, Zeidenberg said Iancu “sought to assist the Republic of Congo in helping the Congo to, among other things, defeat the terrorist organization Boko Haram.”

Abramoff never had a written or oral agreement with either Iancu or the Congolese government, Zeidenberg said. Nor did Iancu.

Nevertheless, the colorful narrative detailed in the new Department of Justice documents shows Abramoff going to great lengths to secure a meeting with Trump for Sassou Nguesso, whose more than three-decade rule has been marred by accusations of corruption and nepotism.

Abramoff “flew to Palm Beach on his own initiative, and without any compensation” the filing says.

While there, Abramoff called Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., “to see if he could assist with setting up a meeting with President-Elect Trump since Rep. Rohrabacher has been a leader in Congress opposing radical Islam.”

Abramoff then drafted a letter for Rohrabacher, who once visited Abramoff in prison, to send to Sassou Nguesso.

Rohrabacher in February told Politico, which first reported details of Abramoff’s latter-day lobbying efforts, that he transferred Abramoff’s wording onto congressional stationery and sent it.

“It looked like what I wanted to say,” Rohrabacher told Politico.

When the meeting between Trump and Sassou Nguesso “proved impossible to obtain,” Abramoff asked Rohrabacher to set up a call.

Rohrabacher was obliging, but the call never happened. Instead, Abramoff set up a call between Rohrabacher and Sassou Nguesso in which Rohrabacher said he was interested in leading a delegation to the Republic of Congo.

Politico reported that Rohrabacher made the trip in February.

According to the new Department of Justice disclosure, Abramoff was also in Brazzaville, the Congolese capital, at the time, though he didn’t participate in the meeting between Rohrabacher and Sassou Nguesso.

“It is Mr. Abramoff’s understanding that nothing of substance was ultimately agreed upon during the meeting,” according to the disclosure. No other meetings were scheduled, according to the disclosure.

Does Abramoff have any plans to do any additional lobbying?

“I don’t know,” Zeidenberg said.

In 2006, Abramoff pleaded guilty to felonies and his name became synonymous with corruption in the nation’s capital. The scandal spurred the passage of new lobbying laws and ethics rules.

After his 2010 release, Abramoff’s political reformer efforts included writing a book, “Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist,” and proposing a slate of lobbying and campaign finance reforms.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT