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Ex-RNC fundraiser pleads guilty to foreign lobbying charge

Ex-RNC fundraiser pleads guilty to foreign lobbying charge
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Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican National Committee (RNC) fundraiser, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent after he was charged earlier this month.

Broidy entered his guilty plea Wednesday afternoon before U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C. The hearing was conducted via video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A charging document filed in early October alleged that Broidy, who was a major Trump fundraiser, engaged in an illegal backchannel effort to influence the Department of Justice.

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Prosecutors said Broidy conspired to lobby the Justice Department to end a federal probe into the $4.5 billion embezzlement scandal involving Malaysia’s state-owned investment fund, 1MDB. 

Prosecutors also said Broidy tried to lobby the Trump administration to arrange for the “removal and return” of a Chinese exile living in the United States who has been identified in news reports as Guo Wengui. Broidy’s lobbying efforts were not successful.

Broidy pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The charge was detailed in a criminal information, which often proceeds a guilty plea – a hint earlier this month that Broidy would ultimately enter a guilty plea. Kollar-Kotelly will need to accept Broidy’s plea on Wednesday for it to become official.

Prosecutors said that Broidy was paid at least $6 million upfront by Malaysian fugitive Jho Low, who has been charged in the embezzlement scheme, and promised as much as $75 million if he was successful in lobbying the Justice Department. Low, who has denied wrongdoing, is not identified in the charging document but his description matches that of the individual described.

Broidy worked as RNC deputy finance chairman between 2017 and 2018. He stepped down from his position amid reports claiming he paid off a Playboy Playmate who claimed he impregnated her. He was also a significant fundraiser for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against '60 Minutes' for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has 'no chance' of being confirmed as Biden's OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE’s 2016 campaign and inauguration.