Politics The Jan. 6 committee says the Trump campaign ripped...

The Jan. 6 committee says the Trump campaign ripped apart donors. But was it illegal?

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Former President Donald Trump’s clip was played during a hearing by the United States House Select Committee on Monday, June 13, 2022, on the attack on the Canon House office building in Washington, DC.

By Matt McClain / The Washington Post Getty Images


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By Matt McClain / The Washington Post Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump’s clip was played during a hearing by the United States House Select Committee on Monday, June 13, 2022, on the attack on the Canon House office building in Washington, DC.

By Matt McClain / The Washington Post Getty Images

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 uprising in the Capitol is calling it a “big rip off.”

It is said that the Trump campaign has received 250 250 million in donations from supporters who will go to the Election Protection Fund to pay legal fees to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. But the funds were never actually created, said one of the committee members, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, at the panel’s second public hearing Monday.

Instead, the money went to Save America PAC, she said, and from there the money went to pro-Trump organizations led by former officials close to the Trump circle.

Referring to the false allegations of fraud in Trump’s election, Lofgren said, “There was just no big lie.”

Asked about the committee’s allegations, Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington responded in a statement, saying, “The non-elected committee is spreading baseless lies against President Trump.

The committee cannot prosecute Trump or any of his associates for investigation, however it may recommend that the Department of Justice pursue criminal charges.

The question, however, is whether there is enough evidence to make a case that Trump and his associates actually broke any laws.

The key question is where the money was spent

“It’s a difficult one,” said Ken Gross, a former associate general counsel for the Federal Election Commission. “As much as it is unpleasant to raise money for purposes other than what you are going to use in the political arena, campaigns are given a little latitude because often, money is used for other purposes.”

He says one example is the campaign for solicitation of donations and that it will go on TV commercials but instead using it for a different endeavor in the campaign – such things always happen. And unless there is evidence that the funds were converted for personal use and not in the political sphere, Gross said it would be difficult for the plaintiff to prosecute.

“Whether or not it would be legally enforceable, I am not prepared to go there unless we have some other disturbing facts, such as conversions for personal use,” Gross said.

“So [the funding from donors] Living in the political arena, even if it is not used for political purposes, I think it is difficult for the plaintiff to really take interest, “he said.

The Campaign Finance Act does not necessarily apply

It’s even more complicated here. Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Professor of Electoral Law at Stetson University, Told NPR that the propaganda finance law does not apply here.

In the case, Trump said he was using money from donors to fund his legal protection. And that happened after the election.

“Legal protection funds fall outside the scope of the general campaign financing. They are not considered contributions or expenditures under the campaign finance law,” Torres-Spelissi said. “You can raise money for legal defense funds that are not subject to the finances of the classic campaign.”

For example, how many limits the FEC has set Personal donor Can give to the campaign. But those limits do not apply to legal protection funds.

But she added that this does not mean that no law applies. In this case, she believes the January 6 committee is laying the groundwork for a wire fraud case.

“By wire fraud, you use some of our telecommunications infrastructure, such as the Internet, and you defraud a victim of their money. And if the Department of Justice agrees, they could sue the former president and some of his colleagues. Cheating, “said Torres-Spellici.

The intention comes true

What information do plaintiffs need to make a lawsuit? In short, more evidence.

“You’re going to need some facts about this fundraising effort, if you will,” Gross said. “The intent is going to come true … the plaintiffs need some troubling factor before pursuing it.”

In other words, they need proof that Trump knows that money will not be used to fight a legal battle in an attempt to overthrow the election. More information on the subject may come from the House Committee in the coming weeks as members spell out their case more.
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Still, Gross says it will be a difficult case.

But both Torres-Spelissi and Gross pointed to a different example when Trump allies were tied up with allegations of misappropriation of donated funds, although this was not linked to an official campaign for office. In 2016, prosecutors accused former Trump political adviser Steve Bannon of wire fraud because he raised 25 million in a campaign to build a wall on the southern border – but allegedly He took millions of dollars out of those donations to fill his own pockets.

“Whether they’re building a wall on their southern border or fighting a phantom election fraud, they’re worried and you get all this money from donors … some of them don’t have that money left,” Torres-Spellici said.

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