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Press Release Published: Feb 8, 2024

Comer Opens Probe into DOJ’s Failure to Enforce FARA Requirements

DOJ has passed or delayed seeking FARA registrations for Al Jazeera and TikTok

WASHINGTON— House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) is examining the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) failure to enforce Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requirements with certain entities, including Al Jazeera and TikTok. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Chairman Comer is requesting all documents and communications regarding DOJ’s FARA decision-making process and the status of FARA-related inquiries into Al Jazeera and TikTok.

“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is conducting oversight of the Department of Justice’s (the Department or DOJ) administration and enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), 22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq. Specifically, the Committee seeks to understand the administration, enforcement, and recordkeeping practices associated with delays or decisions not to enforce FARA compliance with certain entities,” wrote Chairman Comer. “As two prominent examples, statements by Administration officials and other material in the public record indicate the Department appears to have considered extra-legal factors in passing on or delaying FARA registration enforcement requirements for news media company Al Jazeera and social media company TikTok.”

FARA requires individuals to register with the Department of Justice if they engage in certain activities at the direction of a foreign principal to influence American officials or any section of the public. In this time where social media, technology, and artificial intelligence are pervasive, there are innumerable opportunities for foreign principals to engage in nefarious registerable conduct without the opportunity for scrutiny that registration would provide the American public.

“Given Al Jazeera’s and TikTok’s public prominence in the U.S., mounting evidence of their use to advance foreign agendas, and the Biden Administration’s own national security concerns with the two companies, the Committee is puzzled that the Department appears to have either ceased or paused enforcement of FARA registration requirements for the companies without explanation,” continued Chairman Comer. “The Committee expects the Department to administer and enforce FARA with the singular goal of advancing the statute’s explicit national security purpose. The risks in failing to do so are high, especially at a time when many Americans, particularly young people, seek and trust social media content on tech platforms as primary sources of information, counsel, and comfort.”

Read the full letter to Attorney General Garland here.