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One-Time Trump National Security Pick Registers As Foreign Agent for Ukrainian Oligarch

Are Trump campaign surrogates clogging the drain of the swamp?

By , a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy.
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crow crop

Monica Crowley was once U.S. President Donald Trump’s top pick for a top White House national security role. After being caught up in a plagiarism scandal, she backed out of the job. But now she has a new one: lobbying for Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk.

Monica Crowley was once U.S. President Donald Trump’s top pick for a top White House national security role. After being caught up in a plagiarism scandal, she backed out of the job. But now she has a new one: lobbying for Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk.

Her move comes right on the heels of a scandal involving former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s belated registration as a foreign agent for work he did for Turkey while advising the Trump campaign. While Crowley never served in the administration, her move to lobby for a Ukrainian oligarch further clouds Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp” of Washington.

Crowley registered as a foreign agent for Victor Pinchuk according to documents submitted to the Department of Justice on March 10. According to the files, the conservative news commentator will “be providing outreach services on behalf of Mr. Pinchuk” including “inviting government officials and other policy makers to attend conferences and meetings…to engage in learning and dialogue regarding issues of concern to Mr. Pinchuk.”

Pinchuk is a controversial political figure in Ukraine. The son-in-law of former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Pinchuk made over $1 billion off his steel company and other ventures in the rough-and-tumble business landscape of post-Soviet Ukraine. He backed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and became a vocal opponent of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. He also gained notoriety for forging close ties with the Clinton family, pouring between $10 and $25 million into the Clinton Foundation as of 2016, according to the New York Times.

Pinchuk came under fire in 2015 when a Newsweek investigation revealed his businesses had trade links with Iran in 2011 and 2012 when Iran was under sanction — a claim Pinchuk denied. He also found himself in legal trouble when the Commerce Department investigated his steel company, Interpipe, Ltd., for illegally dumping steel tubes used in natural gas production into the United States.

Pinchuk’s foundation also donated $150,000 to Trump’s foundation after the real-estate mogul delivered a speech on Ukraine in 2015 to a meeting organized by the foundation.

Pinchuk emerged as a potential conduit to Trump for the Ukrainian government, as Foreign Policy reported in February. He caught flak at home for penning a Wall Street Journal op-ed in December arguing that Ukraine should make “painful compromises” with Russia, though he hasn’t backed off his denunciation of Russia’s antics in stoking the crisis. His new business relationship with Crowley indicates he could be seeking new inroads with the White House after years of forging ties with the Clintons.

Crowley plagiarized over 50 sections of her 2012 book, What The (Bleep) Just Happened,  from sources including Wikipedia, Investopedia, news outlets, and think tank reports. She withdrew herself from the running to be senior director of communications for Trump’s national security council when revelations of her plagiarism first broke in January. Her publisher, HarperCollins, subsequently removed the book from shelves.

Doug Schoen, another news commentator and political analyst, is listed in the documents as the primary registrant for Crowley’s work with Pinchuk. Schoen arranged multiple meetings for Pinchuk with top State Department officials while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, and as recently as 2014 earned $40,000 a month for advising Pinchuk, according to the New York Times.

Flynn, who served less than one month in office, retroactively registered as a foreign agent in March for lobbying on behalf of a company with ties to the Turkish government while advising Trump’s presidential campaign. He resigned in February for misleading White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, on meetings he held with the Russian ambassador.

Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer

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