President’s Son Illegally Sought Russian Help, Common Cause Charges
President's Son Illegally Sought Russian Help, Common Cause Charges
Complaints Filed with Justice Department, Federal Election Commission
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, illegally solicited a campaign contribution – in the form of opposition research – from a Russian national, Common Cause alleges in complaints filed today with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission.
“Donald Trump Jr. appears to have violated the law in order to obtain information helpful to his father’s campaign for the presidency,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn,. “These actions are part of a troubling pattern of President Trump, members of his family, and key advisors acting as if they are above the law. Trump’s family and inner circle are not above the law, and we urge the Justice Department and the FEC to fully investigate this apparent violation and hold Trump Jr. and the campaign accountable if appropriate.”
Paul Seamus Ryan, Common Cause’s vice president for policy and litigation, said the complaints are based on longstanding federal law that defines a contribution as anything of value that is donated to influence a federal election. The law also prohibits anyone from soliciting or accepting a contribution from a foreign national.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that Trump Jr. has acknowledged meeting privately in June 2016 with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who had promised him “damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Paul Manafort, a veteran Republican political operative and businessman who at the time was Trump’s campaign chairman, also attended. The elder Trump was the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee at the time.
Manafort left the Trump campaign last summer amid reports about his own Kremlin connections. He reportedly earned millions as a consultant to Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump Jr. told the Times he agreed to a meeting after being approached by a third party who said Veselnitskaya had information about possible connections between Russia and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That information never materialized; instead the Russian lawyer wanted to discuss a U.S.-Russia policy issue she apparently hoped Trump would work on if elected, Trump Jr. said.
“Trump Jr. appears to have been treating the election as some sort of reality TV game show, with a goal of winning at all costs,” Ryan said. “However, there are laws on the books prohibiting the solicitation of anything of value from a foreign national to influence a U.S. election and those laws appear to have been violated by Trump Jr.”