MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Trump’s fundraising efforts take a sketchy turn with bogus claim
MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show: Trump's fundraising efforts take a sketchy turn with bogus claim
As a rule, political fundraising letters are written in deliberately vague ways. Those responsible for writing these appeals are trained to be careful about giving prospective donors certain impressions, without being too explicit.
For example, when Donald Trump’s political operation wanted to take advantage of interest in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections, it sent out a message that said, “We MUST defend Georgia from the Dems!” The phrasing probably led contributors to believe that if they give Team Trump money, it’d benefit the Republican candidates in next week’s races.
But we know that’s not the case — the president’s operation has used Georgia for fundraising, without actually directing any money to the state — and if you read the specific wording of the appeal, it relied solely on suggestions. There are no literal lies, only misleading insinuations.
This made it all the more notable last week when Team Trump sent a fundraising pitch that included a demonstrably false claim. …
And that got me thinking: can they do that? Can a president ask for cash while lying?
I reached out to some experts to help clarify matters. …
Paul S. Ryan, the vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, came to the same conclusion, telling me, “Federal campaign finance law has only minimal ‘truth in advertising’ requirements.”
But Ryan added that the Justice Department “has in recent years begun prosecuting so-called ‘scam PACs’ for violations of criminal wire- and mail-fraud statutes based on representations made in political fundraising solicitations…. It’s certainly possible that the DOJ could investigate President Trump for fraudulent political fundraising in the new year.”