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April 13, 2023
GOP operatives are facing legal indictments after being accused of funneling Russian cash to former President Donald Trump. The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Jesse Benton and Roy Douglas Wead with “conspiracy, contributions by foreign nationals, contributions in the name of another, and false entry record.”
On Monday, the DOJ unsealed the documents charging the two GOP operatives. The report alleges the duo funneled $25,000 in anonymous Russian donations to former President Trump during his reelection campaign. According to the investigation, the money was secured through Benton’s consulting firm and then sent to one of Trump’s joint fundraising committees.
In total, Benton allegedly received a $100,000 wire transfer from a Vienna bank linked to the Russian donor. However, he pocketed two thirds of the money, only sending $25,000 to Trump. The unnamed donor supported Trump publicly at fundraising events, although details of his relationship to the former president or his campaign are not yet public.
Benton was a former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul, and Wead is a conservative commentator and writer. The former was pardoned by President Trump in December, clearing illegal campaign scam charges from 2012.
The latest charges stemmed from 2016 political donations, which raised questions regarding the timeframe of the case. “It seems like the kind of case that doesn’t require five years of investigation,” Barb McQuade, a former U.S. attorney, told Talking Points Memo. She went on to allude that the financial funneling was not an extensive or detailed scam.
McQuade said, “It seems like the transactions were finite and complete by, at the latest, early 2017. So it’s a fair question why someone did not charge this.” Benton, Wead, nor Trump have yet to make a public statement regarding the DOJ’s charges.
ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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