Election Law Provides No Firm Say on Legality of Donald Trump Jr.’s Meeting

Election Law Provides No Firm Say on Legality of Donald Trump Jr.’s Meeting
Copyright ©2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. ^ | July 10, 2017 8:41 p.m. ET | By Jacob Gershman and Nicole Hong

Posted on 07/12/2017 8:09:22 AM PDT by Behind Liberal Lines

Election-law experts say it is far from clear whether Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer crossed a legal line.

President Trump’s eldest son arranged a meeting in June of last year between top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer who has been linked to the Kremlin, after being told she “might have information helpful to the campaign…”

Federal election law prohibits foreign nationals or foreign governments from contributing or donating money or “anything of value” to a political campaign.

It also makes it a felony for a campaign or members of a campaign to knowingly and willfully solicit, accept or receive a donation or “thing of value” from a foreign national. The solicitation doesn’t need to be successful … to be illegal.

Prosecutions …have generally dealt with charges of funneling cash….opposition research on a political foe could be considered something of value, particularly if the supplier of the information spent money to obtain it…

But experts said it might be difficult to ascribe a value to a vague promise to provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton, which is how Mr. Trump Jr. described what he knew about the sit-down with the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya beforehand.

Mr. Trump Jr. said that Ms. Veselnitskaya had done nothing helpful for the campaign and that he cut off the meeting after she dwelled on … a federal law that placed sanctions on Russian human-rights abusers.

It is hard to draw any conclusions based on what is known about the circumstances of the meeting, said Kenneth A. Gross…a former Federal Election Commission lawyer….

Mr. Trump Jr. said … that he didn’t know the lawyer’s name before seeing her, making it unclear whether he knew she was a Russian national… this could make it more difficult to prove criminal intent …

(Excerpt) Read more at wsj.com


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