With the indictments coming down against Paul Manafort and his partner, Rick Gates, I turned on CNN just in time to see Mr. Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, stating that few people have been prosecuted by the Department of Justice for failing to file under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
It’s time for my weekly roundup, which may actually be a wrap-up of the last 24 hours. Like every week since the inauguration, it has been quite a week in Washington: the confirmations of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions; the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s explanation; and the Nordstrom ethics kerfuffle. There were more ethics issues from Kellyanne Conway promoting Ivanka Trump’s line on Fox News, and, ultimately, the subsequent crash of the Office of Government Ethics website (again).
The intelligence community released its report Friday about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. For people who follow Russia and social media propaganda, most of this information wasn’t new. What was new was the intelligence community connecting the dots publicly.
It underscored the important lesson we all know but often forget: Not everyone on the internet is real.
The Washington Post broke a story last night that is deeply troubling. Apparently while the Republicans were trying to pass the rule to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics, they also resurrected a rule from 1876 that allows a member of Congress to introduce an amendment to reduce an individual federal employee’s salary down to one dollar. According to the article, “a majority of the House and Senate would still have to approve any such amendment,” but it still sends a chilling message to government employees.