Former Trump world associates charged with violating foreign agent act

Former Trump world associates charged with violating foreign agent act

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Two men with ties to former President Trump’s 2016 campaign were charged Tuesday with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Barry Bennett, an unpaid adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign, and his associate Douglas Watts were charged with violating FARA, according to court documents.

Prosecutors alleged Bennett “did knowingly and willfully falsify, conceal, and cover up” information to hinder work by federal FARA investigators into his business, and that both he and Watts lied to investigators.

The charges claim Bennett’s lobbying firm, Avenue Strategies, submitted false information in documents provided to the investigators. Prosecutors did not specify the country that funded the undisclosed efforts, but The Wall Street Journal first reported in 2021 that Bennett was under investigation for work with the Qatari government.

The Qatari government paid Avenue Strategies about $3 million between 2017 and 2018 to run the organization Yemen Crisis Watch, the Journal reported, which ran advertisements and editorials critical of Qatari rivals about the civil war in Yemen.

Bennett was personally paid $250,000 for the work “for use in supporting the relief of humanitarian suffering in Yemen,” according to 2021 Justice Department filings.

Despite the compensation, the group was not registered as a foreign lobbying organization and Bennett did not disclose his affiliation, the Journal reported.

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for further comment.

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