The expanding web of campaign finance law violations growing out of the Trump for President campaign’s apparent solicitation of help from the Russian government has snared presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, Common Cause and two allied groups charged today.
In amended complaints filed with the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission, Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 allege that Kushner and Manafort illegally solicited a political contribution from a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, with ties to her country’s government.
The revised complaints also accuse Kushner, Manafort and Rob Goldstone, a British entertainment publicist who often does business in Russia, with assisting Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, in illegally soliciting a donation from Veselnitskaya on behalf of the Trump for President campaign.
“Emails released by Donald Trump Jr. reveal, in no uncertain terms, his choice to place his blind support for his father’s candidacy before any allegiance to the nation’s security,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause.
“Democracy is not a real estate deal or a New York solid waste pickup contract, but that is how these three Trump campaign officials treated it in agreeing to meet to accept opposition research they believed came from the Russian government,” Hobert Flynn added. “These revelations require prompt and thorough investigation by the DOJ and FEC for the good of the nation.”
Common Cause originally filed complaints against Trump Jr. on Monday. Under a recently-adopted FEC policy, that agency will put them on a fast track for consideration because they involve a contribution by a foreign national.
On Tuesday, as the New York Times prepared to publish a story detailing them, Trump Jr. released a series of emails in which he eagerly arranged a June 9, 2016 meeting with Veselnitskaya for himself, Kushner and Manafort. The announced purpose of the session on the 25th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan was a discussion of “official documents and information that would incriminate” Hillary Clinton and had been gathered by the Russian government to help the Trump campaign.
Trump Jr. has said no damaging information came out of the meeting and that he never discussed it with his father. But Paul S. Ryan, Common Cause’s vice president for policy and litigation, said that doesn’t matter. It is just as illegal for Trump Jr. and the other targets of the complaints to have solicited a contribution from a foreign national as it would be for them to accept such a contribution, Ryan asserted.
Ryan also noted that the law defines a contribution as anything of value that is donated to a campaign; cash need not be involved, he said.
Office: Common Cause National