Advocacy Groups Accuse Trump Camp Of Violating Law In Russian Meeting

UNITED STATES - JULY 12: GOP nominee Donald Trump, points to the crowd after accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday July 21, 2016. Behin... UNITED STATES - JULY 12: GOP nominee Donald Trump, points to the crowd after accepting the GOP nomination to be President at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday July 21, 2016. Behind Trump from left are daughter Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, daughter in law Vanessa Trump, and son Donald Trump, Jr. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) MORE LESS
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Three advocacy groups on Thursday accused Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — in addition to everyone known to be in attendance at a meeting with a Russian lawyer who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton in June 2016 — of violating election law.

Democracy 21, Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center, and the vice president and policy director at the latter two groups, respectively, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission formally accusing Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner of soliciting a contribution from a foreign national by attending the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016. PBS Newshour first reported the complaint.

“Under federal law, providing anything of value, including the fruits of paid research, hacking, or similar investigatory activity to a campaign is an in-kind ‘contribution,’” the complaint noted, “and expressing approval and requesting a meeting to receive that in-kind contribution is a ‘solicitation.’

Federal law prohibits such contributions, or solicitation thereof, from foreign nationals.

According to emails released by Trump Jr. just before the New York Times published its own report on the messages, a family acquaintance of Trump’s, Rob Goldstone, had promised that Veselnitskaya would provide dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to aide Donald Trump’s campaign.

The complaint accuses Goldstone of providing “substantial assistance” in soliciting the foreign donation.

The complaint also points to an interview Trump Jr. gave to Fox News’ Sean Hannity in which Trump Jr. affirmed that he pressed Veselnitskaya for the Clinton dirt, after realizing in the meeting that it was unlikely she would provide much useful information.

“[Veselnitskaya] is saying that she had no information to provide,” Hannity told Trump Jr. “Do you remember what she suggested, that you were pressing her a little bit for information?”

“Well, I imagine I did. I mean, I was probably pressing because the pretext of the meeting was, hey, I have information about your opponent,” Trump Jr. replied.

President Trump defended his son again on Thursday, calling the meeting with a foreign national promising dirt on a political opponent as part of a foreign government’s influence campaign “very standard.”

The advocacy groups’ complaint echoes that of Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), who on Tuesday similarly accused the Trump campaign of violating the law.

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Notable Replies

  1. photo caption: “Hey guys, look over there! There are the Russians that want me to be Pres!”

  2. Filing with the FEC is a useless gesture. The story will disappear by tomorrow.

  3. I’ve seen several attempts to explain by analogy why a lack of actual “dirt on Hillary” doesn’t make this meeting OK. The analogies range from shooting a bunch of people to trying and failing to rob a bank. None of them seem apt to me, so let me offer one that does:

    This was like stealing the money from a store’s cash register, then later discovering that the store was run by counterfeiters and the money you stole is counterfeit money. The fact that you failed to steal any real money doesn’t change the fact that you still stole from a store’s cash register.

  4. Avatar for pshah pshah says:

    The FEC has six seats, which are supposed to be balanced between Republicans and Democrats. But, unfortunately, we have currently 1 vacant, 3 Republicans, 1 Democrat, and 1 Independent. If the voters are partisan, this won’t get very far.

    Another example of how Republicans benefit by interfering with the function of governmental agencies.

  5. True but keeps it front and center and they have to generate another stack of lies to disprove it.
    I say keep up the pressure from every side

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