GOP activists accused Russian citizen of funneling $25,000 to Trump campaign in 2016

Jesse Benton, 43, and Doug Weed, 75, were indicted in a six-count indictment And made his first appearance in the DC District Court. He is accused of conspiring to violate campaign finance laws, making illegal foreign contributions, and helping the Federal Election Commission submit false records. Information about his defense attorneys was not immediately available.

Prosecutors said Benton and Weed funneled $25,000 from an undisclosed Russian donor to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising venture between then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee. The Russian then attended a September 2016 fundraiser in Philadelphia, where he met with Trump and took photos with the future president.

There is no indication in the court filing that the case pertains to the investigation of the special counsel, which examined several people Relations between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. The indictment says Trump’s campaign was not aware that the money came from a foreign national.

According to the indictment, the Russian wired $100,000 to a company owned by Benton. Benton kept $75,000 and donated the remaining $25,000 to the Trump Victory Committee. Trump or the committee is not named in the indictment. However, details in court filings match Trump’s itinerary, and Federal Election Commission records confirm Benton’s donation.

The two defendants have been working in politics for decades and are well-known in GOP circles.

Benton Worked for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election campaign, the first campaign of Sen. Rand Paul in 2010 and the presidential campaign of former Representative Ron Paul in 2012. He was acquitted in 2015 lied to the FBI about the donation plan for support, but was convicted in 2016 in a related matter. he got probation, and Trump forgives them last December.

Wade was an aide to former President George HW Bush, worked with Benton in Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign and worked on Rand Paul’s Senate reelection campaign in 2016.

The Justice Department has cracked down on foreign influence in American politics in recent years by bringing in cases of straw donation, undeclared lobbying and electoral interference.


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