Jacob Gershman and Nicole Hong for the WSJ:
That Mr. Trump Jr. came away empty-handed may be a mitigating factor, but as a defense, it is limited. Soliciting a foreign campaign contribution can be illegal even if the donation doesn’t pan out. What matters is that there was an expectation of getting something valuable.
Opposition research on a political foe could be considered something of value, particularly if the supplier of the information spent money to obtain it, election-law experts say. The Federal Election Commission has said the definition can encompass goods or services, like air travel or food, provided free or at below-market rates. Information can be a gift too, like polling data or donor lists.