The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint by an ally of President Donald J. Trump accusing the Democratic Party and one of its former consultants of violating campaign finance laws by working with Ukraine to help Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign by damaging Mr. Trump’s.
An unusual bipartisan combination of members of the commission voted against pursuing a complaint filed in 2017 by Matthew G. Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor and staunch defender of Mr. Trump who was later appointed acting attorney general.
He filed the complaint after Mr. Trump and his White House began publicly calling for investigations of the matter in an effort to deflect attention from revelations that Mr. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign advisers met with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
Mr. Whitaker claimed in his complaint that the Democratic National Committee and a consultant who had worked for it, Alexandra Chalupa, violated a prohibition on foreign donations by soliciting damaging information and statements from Ukrainian government officials about Paul Manafort, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time….
he commission — which is composed of three members selected by each party — voted 4 to 2 in April that there was not probable cause to believe that Ms. Chalupa and the Democratic National Committee broke the law, according to documents released Wednesday.
The four commissioners voted against a recommendation by the commission’s general counsel to find probable cause that Ms. Chalupa and the Democratic National Committee violated the foreign donation ban by trying to arrange an interview in which Petro O. Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president at the time, might say something critical about Mr. Manafort.
While the four commissioners issued statements disputing the general counsel’s characterization that Ms. Chalupa’s communications with the embassy prompted the ban, they also offered very different ideological concerns.
The three Republican commissioners said in a statement accompanying the decision that they had “grave constitutional and prudential concerns” about the general counsel’s reading of the law, which they cast as an overreach. Ms. Chalupa’s communication with the embassy, they wrote, “did not ask that Ukrainian officials convey a thing of value within the meaning of a ‘contribution’ to the D.N.C.”
The Republicans were joined in voting against probable cause by Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic commissioner since 2002, who cited concerns about Russian disinformation as a basis for her vote.