Two watchdog groups filed complaints on Thursday with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission alleging Donald Trump Jr. illegally solicited a contribution from a foreign national in 2016.
A related complaint filed Monday by Common Cause only alleged that Trump Jr. violated the law on behalf of the Trump campaign. But after he released an email chain on Twitter this week about his 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 were able to file a more advanced complaint.
Their complaint includes Jared Kusher and Paul Manafort, who also took part in the June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
"The evidence is clear that Don Jr. knew that the offer of opposition campaign research came from the Russian government, and the law is clear that giving such valuable research for free would have been a contribution to the Trump campaign," said Brendan Fischer, a director at the Campaign Legal Center. "By soliciting that contribution and arranging and attending a meeting to receive it, Don Jr. clearly violated the prohibition against soliciting a contribution from a foreign national."
The groups say the emails released by Trump Jr. show a violation of federal campaign finance law.
Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone offering "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary" collected by the Russian government, to which responded that he "appreciate[d]" the offer and that he "love[d] it."
Trump Jr. then requested a call to obtain the alleged information, which he described as "political opposition research." This request by Trump Jr. for a call with Agalarov to get the alleged information on Clinton is a solicitation of a contribution under federal campaign finance law, the watchdog complaints allege.
No information was divulged in the 2016 meeting, however, and President Trump has maintained he only just learned of the meeting. The administration is defending the meeting as something that anyone would take for "opposition research."
The groups request that their complaint be fast-tracked in accordance with the FEC commissioners' September 2016 agreement to prioritize expedited treatment of complaints regarding foreign national contributions.