U.S. multinationals function as unregistered lobbyists for foreign governments.
If a foreign government wants to lobby the U.S. government, they and their lobbyists need to register with the Department of Justice, through the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
Alternatively, the foreign government could ask one of their American counterparts to do their bidding for them.
The Chinese government opted for the latter approach, law enforcement sources tell the Wall Street Journal.
Reportedly casino magnate Steve Wynn, who has business ties in the Chinese region of Macau, wrote President Trump to ask him to send dissident businessmen Guo Wengui back to China.
This is obviously something China's government wanted. China's government obviously holds sway over Wynn, who needs a license to operate casinos in Macau. Wynn, the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, has ties to Trump. So Wynn passed along China's request to send Guo back. Trump reportedly said yes, but was blocked from doing so by other administration officials.
Wynn's people deny this account, but it wouldn't be the first time this sort of lobbying happened. It's a good reminder that lobbyists and businesses are often policy levers wielded by governments to advance the governments' interests.
Here's the eye-opening passage from the WSJ piece:
At a June meeting in the Oval Office, counterintelligence officials briefed President Trump on Beijing's alleged efforts to steal cutting-edge research from labs and trade secrets from U.S. companies [...]
In the meantime, [Trump] said he knew of at least one "Chinese criminal" the U.S. needed to immediately deport, according to the people.
"Where's the letter that Steve brought?" Mr. Trump called to his secretary. "We need to get this criminal out of the country," Mr. Trump said, according to the people. Aides assumed the letter, which was brought into the Oval Office, might reference a Chinese national in trouble with U.S. law enforcement, the people said.
The letter, in fact, was from the Chinese government, urging the U.S. to return Mr. Guo to China.
The document had been presented to Mr. Trump at a recent private dinner at the White House, the people said. It was hand-delivered to the president by Mr. Wynn, the Republican National Committee finance chairman, whose Macau casino empire cannot operate without a license from the Chinese territory.
Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner's commentary editor, can be contacted at email@example.com. His column appears Tuesday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.