US accuses Steve Wynn of lobbying Trump on behalf of China

The Justice Department on Tuesday indicted former casino mogul Stephen Wynn, saying he made repeated requests on behalf of the Chinese government to Donald J. Trump when he was president and tried to force Mr. Wynn to register as a foreign agent.

In 2017, Mr. Wynn instigated Mr. Trump to deport a Chinese businessman who, according to the lawsuit, had sought asylum in the United States. At the time, Mr. Wynn was the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, a role for which he had been chosen by Mr. Trump.

The lawsuit accuses Mr. Wynn of raising the subject several times, including at a dinner with Mr. Trump and other government officials in late June 2017, when he passed on passport photos of the person to Mr. Trump’s secretary; during unscheduled meetings with Mr. Trump in August of that year; and by telephone aboard a yacht off the coast of Italy. According to the indictment, Mr. Trump told Mr. Wynn that he would investigate the matter.

The Chinese businessman is not named in the lawsuit, but he is known as Guo Wengui, a billionaire real estate mogul and an outspoken critic of the Chinese government, who formed an alliance with Stephen K. Bannon, a former White House strategist for Mr. Trump. Guo fled China in 2014 pending corruption charges that he believes were retaliatory measures. The attempt to return him to China was ultimately unsuccessful, the lawsuit said.

The suit also portrays Mr. Wynn as advancing his own interests in Macau, a region of China known for its casinos that was pivotal to Mr Wynn’s business. Mr. Wynn resigned as chairman and chief executive of his company, Wynn Resorts, in 2018 after being accused of sexual misconduct. He also stepped down as financial chairman of the RNC

The Justice Department said it had asked Mr Wynn to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in 2018, 2021 and April this year, but he had declined.

“Obviously I disagreed with the Justice Department, which is why I didn’t register,” Mr Wynn said in a text message to The New York Times on Tuesday. He added that he would leave the matter to his lawyer and make no further comments.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, requires people who lobby or provide public relations services to foreign governments to disclose these activities to the Department of Justice. The law was largely unenforced for decades, but the Department prioritized it during the Trump administration.

According to the lawsuit, Sun Lijun, then China’s deputy public security minister, first approached three people in May 2017, asking the Trump administration to revoke the Chinese businessman’s visa. The suit mentions Elliott B. Broidy, a former chairman of RNC finance and a top Trump fundraiser; Nickie Lum Davis, another Republican fundraiser; and the rapper Pras Michel. (Mr. Broidy and Ms. Lum Davis both pleaded guilty in 2020 to charges related to their roles in a covert campaign to influence the Trump administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests. Mr. Trump pardoned Mr. Broidy shortly before taking office. left.)

In June 2017, Mr. Broidy passed on Mr. Sun’s request to Mr. Wynn, according to the lawsuit, and Mr. Sun later referred the matter directly to Mr. Wynn. Mr Sun had told Mr Broidy that he wanted Mr Guo to be placed on the national no-fly list and to have his application for a new visa rejected, the indictment said.

After Mr. Wynn passed the request at a dinner with Mr. Trump in June 2017, Mr. Broidy told Mr. Wynn that Mr. Sun and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, were grateful for his assistance. Mr. Wynn also reportedly raised his Macau business interests during several telephone conversations with Mr. Sun.

In a statement, Matthew G. Olsen, an assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s national security division, said it was “the first confirmatory civil lawsuit under FARA in more than three decades.”

“Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people the right to know,” he said.

Maggie Haberman and Kenneth P. Vogel reporting contributed.

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