Trump Notified Of Criminal Referral Over Communication With Putin

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Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) have sent a criminal referral to the U.S. Justice Department regarding a recent push by former President Donald Trump for damaging information on the Biden family to be released by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump made that push amid Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine — violence that apparently didn’t compel this former president of the United States and potential future presidential contender to keep his distance from the murderous authoritarian behind the devastation. The potential criminal acts laid out by Lieu and Gomez in their referral, which constitutes a request for action by the Justice Department, are relatively straightforward — the provision or solicitation of foreign support for a U.S. political campaign is illegal. Damaging information on the Bidens could help Trump’s re-election bid.

Trump hasn’t formally declared himself to be a presidential candidate — but in remarks last year, he seemed to indicate he planned to run but hadn’t formally announced as much yet in order to avoid campaign finance regulations for candidates. Asked if he’d run again, Trump said: “Actually for me it’s an easy question… I mean, I know what I’m going to do, but we’re not supposed to be talking about it yet from the standpoint of campaign finance laws.” Meanwhile, as a press release from Lieu’s office explained things on the subject of Trump’s push for help from Putin in going after the Bidens: “The [Federal Election Campaign Act], as well as [Federal Election Commission] regulations, prohibit foreign nationals from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any American election and prohibits American political candidates from soliciting anything of value from foreign powers. [Lieu and Gomez] have requested that the DOJ open a formal investigation into this matter.”

In their letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Lieu and Gomez noted that there’s “substantial evidence the former President is a candidate for office within the meaning of the Act and FEC regulations,” making him subject to the laws against getting support from foreign interests. “We respectfully request that the DOJ launch a formal investigation into the immoral and un-American actions of former President Trump because they also appear to be illegal,” the Congressmen said. Although Trump has committed a variety of potentially prosecutable criminal acts, action on these matters — as best can be told from public information — has been limited at the Justice Department. Separately, a federal judge recently concluded, however, that Trump had likely committed felony offenses amid his attempts to stay in power after losing the last presidential election to Joe Biden.

As for Trump’s original remarks seeking dirt on the Bidens, he said: “As long as Putin now is not exactly a fan of our country, let him explain… why did the mayor of Moscow’s wife give the Bidens — both of ’em — three and a half million dollars?.. So now, I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it.” What Trump claims about a financial transfer to the Bidens from the mayor of Moscow’s wife grossly misrepresents the facts — and previous versions of the claims from Trump didn’t directly implicate Joe, so he’s changing his own story. (Read more here.)