Neither Trump nor his campaign are mentioned by name in the indictment, but details in the 19-page document make it clear that it was a donation related to the Trump event and an opportunity to meet him in person.
The indictment’s reference to a donation of $ 25,000 to a Benton political committee on October 27, 2016 – supposedly to cover up the foreign source of the money – coincides with a donation of the same size and date to Trump’s political committee Attributed to “Jesse Bentor” who prosecutors said was mutilating Benton’s name.
There is no evidence in the indictment that Trump or his campaign aides knew that the money came from the Russian donor. The indictments state that Benton and Wead “hid” the deal from Trump, and that part of the plan was to get the political committees to “unwittingly” submit reports showing that Benton was indeed the source of the funds .
The indictment suggests that Benton and Wead had hoped to make money from the program, and they did – they took $ 100,000 from the Russian but paid only $ 25,000 to Trump Victory, a joint venture between the Trump Campaign and the Republican National Committee.
Benton, a veteran of Kentucky and presidential politics, had previously faced federal campaign funding fees for payments to a key Iowa state legislature who switched from Michelle Bachman to Ron Paul in the 2012 President’s GOP area code. Trump pardoned Benton shortly before leaving for the crimes for which he was convicted. Benton is also a father-in-law and former advisor to Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Son of Ron Paul. Benton previously led Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign in 2014 before stepping down under legal scrutiny.
At the pardon of Benton and another employee, Trump stated that the move was supported by Rand Paul and former FEC chair Lee Goodman.
The new indictment alleges that Benton ran the foreign fundraising program in the days just before and after his two-year probation sentence in the Iowa campaign finance case.
Wead is a conservative commentator and activist who co-authored a book with then-Vice-President George HW Bush that was published shortly before Bush’s 1989 presidency. During his presidency, Wead also had close access to Trump’s White House.
Wead is represented by two former lawyers for Trump when he was president, Jay Sekulow and Jane Raskin.
When asked about the indictment, Sekulow said in a statement: “Doug Wead is a distinguished writer and charity supporter. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will continue to respond appropriately in court. ”
The case against Benton and Wead was entrusted to Trump-appointed Judge Trevor McFadden.