“Mueller Report Opens Door for Civil Enforcement by FEC”


Today, Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center, and Democracy 21 filed a supplementto a complaint filed in July 2017 against President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign committee for soliciting contributions from foreign nationals in the form of opposition research offered by Russians. Although Special Counsel Robert Mueller declined to bring criminal charges against Donald Trump Jr., Mueller provided a roadmap by which the Federal Election Commission (FEC) could pursue civil penalties.

Mueller concluded that Donald Trump Jr. setting up a meeting to accept “high level and sensitive” opposition research from a foreign government could violate federal law’s prohibition on soliciting a contribution from a person he knew was a foreign national. Mueller declined to bring criminal charges because he believed he could not meet the high prosecutorial standard for proving Trump Jr. acted “willfully,” and because of challenges in calculating the value of the promised documents—but this has no bearing on the FEC’s pursuit of civil penalties.


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