Trump strengthens Praetorian Guard defense against investigation of illegal foreign campaign contributions

President Donald Trump, just after or coincident with his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, doubled down on Wednesday, February 5, 2020,
strengthening his Praetorian Guard to protect against FBI investigations of illegal foreign contributions to his reelection campaign–or to congressional campaigns.


Marty Johnson, “Barr directs FBI to get his approval before investigating 2020 presidential candidates: report,” The Hill, February 6, 2020 (09:23 AM EST).

The Hill reports,

Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday reportedly released a new set of restrictions covering FBI investigations of political candidates.

Under the new guidelines, the FBI must get Barr’s approval before investigating any 2020 presidential candidates or their senior staff, the Times reports.

Agents must first talk with relevant officials and the Justice Department before opening any probe into “illegal contributions, donations or expenditures by foreign nationals to a presidential or congressional campaign.”

Barr has also overseen the federal prosecution of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on campaign finance charges.

Barr has proven himself to be unswervingly loyal to Trump, and presumably can be relied on to deflect any investigations into the “presidential or congressional” campaigns in 2020. The fact that he is “overseeing” the “federal prosecution of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on campaign finance charges,” is highly revealing, and tends to suggest why we haven’t heard any more about these cases.

What this means is that if any foreign nationals are caught funneling foreign money to congressional campaigns or the presidential campaign in 2020, this information is likely to be bottled up by Barr in the Justice Department, and we’ll never hear about it until long after the elections–if ever. Presumably this would include foreign nationals funneling money through U.S. citizens such as Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

This is a bold move in the continuing subordination of the Justice Department and the Rule of Law to the will of an increasingly authoritarian Leader, President Trump.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.