- Legal experts say Trump is unlikely to face fraud charges related to his misleading campaign emails.
- Trump’s campaign has attracted supporters to get money on behalf of a non-existent “electoral defense fund”.
- Campaign tactics will be reconsidered after a committee hearing on January 6.
Legal experts say former President Donald Trump is unlikely to face fraud charges over his alleged campaign efforts to deceive his supporters into donating money to a non-existent “official election defense fund.”
Trump’s political fundraising process is under renewed scrutiny after a special committee in the US House of Representatives confirmed on January 6 that no such fund ever existed. The Trump campaign has repeatedly hit its supporters with ominous messages that reiterate the then-president’s exposed allegations of widespread voter fraud. The embassies made record donations to the ailing president, exceeding $170 million, before he left office.
Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat and member of the committee, appears to be opening the door to potential fraud cases after a top investigator on the committee documented how Trump raised none of the hundreds of millions of dollars Trump raised in the months following the election. , applied to support various court cases.
“Obviously he deliberately misled the donors, asked them to donate to a fund that didn’t exist, and used the money raised for something other than what he said he would do. Now the others have to decide whether this is criminal or not,” said Lofgren, who served as the principal investigator. In impeachment proceedings since Nixon, told reporters after Monday’s hearing.
—CSPAN (cspan) June 13, 2022
However, insiders told experts that while Trump or his associates have misled donors, there are important details about the fundraising strategy that remain unknown.
said Adav Noti, Vice President and Legal Director of the Campaign Legal Center, who previously served as Federal General Counsel for Electoral Commission policy. “You have to look for people, it will not be enough for criminal purposes to say, ‘This is what happened.'”
The January 6 panel revealed previously undisclosed statements by Trump campaign officials that ominous emails urging people to support legal challenges were more a marketing tactic than a serious attempt to fund litigation related to the 2020 presidential election.
Amanda Wake, the committee’s senior investigative advisor, said the Trump campaign had learned that the allegations of voter fraud were false, but continued to bombard small donors with emails encouraging them to donate to the so-called ‘official election defense fund’. A video played during the hearing. “The Special Committee has decided that there is no such fund.”
Notti said what the campaign was doing “seems like a fraudulent pattern,” but the fact that the case would focus on the then-President of the United States and his campaign may make prosecutors less likely to pursue the case.
“In normal contexts, if someone collects that amount by knowingly making false claims, they are likely to face criminal prosecution for fraud,” Notti said. “There is a practical consideration that this fraud was perpetrated by or on behalf of the President of the United States, and this is an important fact when it comes to impeachment decisions.”
In a 12-page statement Monday night, Trump remained as defiant as ever and criticized the select committee hearings.
“If they had real evidence, they would have real hearings with equal representation,” Trump wrote. “They don’t, so they are using the illegally constituted commission to present a smoke and mirror show to the American people in one last pathetic attempt to deceive the American public…again.”
More money, more problems?
One thing is clear: Any legal threat related to Trump campaign funds is likely to come from the Department of Justice rather than the Federal Election Commission, a bipartisan regulator that acts as a civil code for campaign finance law.
The six-member panel has already received numerous complaints about Trump’s campaign finances, four of whom nominated Trump. In these cases, the committee is often in a 3:3 ideological stalemate.
One notable example of this came in May, when the Federal Election Commission stumbled upon a complaint that Trump’s 2020 White House campaign laundered hundreds of millions of dollars in spending through companies closely linked to the former president and his family, according to a ruling document obtained. From the insider.
In recent years, the Department of Justice has had a certain desire to sue campaign finance issues. Earlier this month, former congressional candidate Nicholas Jones pleaded guilty to falsifying records to hide thousands of dollars in in-kind donations. Federal prosecutors scored a major victory earlier this year after a jury indicted the then attorney. Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican lied to the FBI about an illegal campaign donation by a Nigerian billionaire.
But the Department of Justice’s record of high-profile campaign finance trials is patchy.
A decade ago, former Democratic presidential candidate and US Senator John Edwards released him after federal prosecutors refused to try him again after a jury found him not guilty of violating the campaign finance law and others faltered, leading to a wrongful trial.
It would be unprecedented for the former president of the United States to stand trial on criminal campaign financing charges.
Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters that he was observing the commission’s January 6 hearings, but otherwise cited the Justice Department’s traditional standards of not commenting on ongoing or potential future investigations.
Garland also stressed that his department would not hold anyone accountable, though some Democrats have criticized him for moving too slowly and being too lenient with people who haven’t looked into the Capitol, but who still contribute to the effort to topple the election.
Kenneth Gross, the former head of the Federal Election Commission’s law enforcement division, said any campaign finance issue that Trump or his campaign officials might face would be difficult for prosecutors to deal with because the government has great respect for campaigns when it comes to how they spend money.
“Well, if there’s a transfer of money for personal use, that’s the thing that gets the plaintiffs interested in these cases,” Gross said in an interview.
As the Washington Post noted in 2020, the Trump campaign told potential donors in minute detail that 75% of each donation would go to Trump’s newly created leadership PAC.
Trump’s re-election campaign committee, along with his successor Political Action Committees, has always made fascinating, suspicious, and false claims about potential donors.
These were often promises of donations that, as Insider previously reported, were never fulfilled.
The Department of Justice noted last year that fraudulent “match” requests were one of many misdeeds a political fraudster pleaded guilty to in an online fraud case.
But campaign money scandals may be the least of Trump’s legal problems.
Far from Capitol Hill and to New York, where officials are investigating Trump’s business empire, Fulton County District Attorney Fannie T. Willis is investigating the president’s efforts to pressure officials in Georgia after he lost the state. Attorney General Carl Racine sued Trump’s founding committee for overpaying the then-president-elect’s company to use the hotel they were staying in.
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