Prosecutors triggered a national firestorm last month when they asserted that President Donald Trump conspired with his ex-fixer, Michael Cohen, to commit campaign finance crimes involving hush money payments to two women. But the discussion has overlooked another Trump campaign finance offense — one that is even easier to prove because it occurred in plain sight. On July 27, 2016, Trump called on Russia to find presidential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump proclaimed. He added, “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Federal campaign finance law prohibits any person from soliciting campaign contributions, defined as anything of value to be given to influence an election, from a foreign national, including a foreign government.
In asking Russia to find Clinton’s emails, presidential candidate Trump violated this statutory prohibition on seeking help from a foreign country to influence an election. Trump in essence called on a foreign adversary to locate and release something that was of great value to him and his campaign.