Business Insider has revealed that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner “approved the creation of a campaign shell company that secretly paid the president’s family members and spent almost half of the campaign’s $1.26 billion war chest.” This shell company, which Insider explains that the campaign used to pay “some of Trump’s top advisors and family members while shielding financial and operational details from public scrutiny,” operated as American Made Media Consultants, or AMMC, and some top individuals from the president’s inner circle have served in leadership positions. Lara Trump — Eric Trump’s wife and the president’s daughter-in-law — spent time as the shell company’s president, and Vice President Mike Pence’s nephew John Pence has served as the company’s vice president.
The Trump campaign used the shell company to buy ad space for Trump — and to pay individuals like Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend.
Insider notes that the campaign’s reliance on the shell company “could attract scrutiny from federal election regulators.” Sending money through the company to individuals with whom the campaign was doing business — including the president’s own family members — apparently kept some spending details out of reports about the campaign’s most immediate expenditures. Brendan Fischer, who works as director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, described the campaign’s utilization of the shell company in question as a “scheme to evade telling voters even the basics on where its money is really going” and a “shield to disguise the ultimate recipients of its spending.” In July, the Campaign Legal Center filed a civil complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over some of the campaign’s shell spending.
The FEC can issue fines, and “several former Justice Department and FEC officials previously told Insider that Justice Department officials may already be discreetly investigating Trump’s reelection activity,” according to the new Insider report. A Justice Department investigation, which could theoretically result in criminal charges for those involved in the activities under scrutiny, could add to the legal headaches for Trump World after the outgoing president’s imminent exit from office. Trump is already facing investigations from New York state Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.
2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also used a shell company to purchase ad space, and after Kushner’s approval, Trump campaign insiders kickstarted American Made Media Consultants in early 2018. Interestingly enough, there’s a provision in the defense spending bill for the upcoming year that would “require anonymous shell companies — including limited liability companies such as American Made Media Consultants — to disclose their real owners to the US Treasury Department,” Insider explains. Although the bill passed both chambers of Congress with enough support to override any presidential veto, Trump has insisted that he plans to veto the legislation, because he wants legislators to include an undoing of legal liability protections for social media companies.
Trump and his associates have consistently characterized even cursory investigative efforts as some kind of conspiracy to make Trump look bad, a claim for which there is simply no legitimate evidence.