According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump's re-election campaign has been the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that date back to 2017.
The reports states that, following his election in November 2016, the donations started flowing in opening doors for donors to attend GOP fundraisers and meet with high-ranking Republican officials.
According to the Journal's Brian Spegele, "Several of those involved worked closely with China’s national-security apparatus, including organizations linked to its military, and briefed prominent Chinese political figures about their effort."
He added, "As guests of a Republican official named Shawn Steel, Chinese nationals, including a man working for China’s central government, attended an invitation-only gathering in May 2017 where GOP leaders discussed campaign strategies and other issues."
The report notes that the Republican National Committee, after being contacted by the Journal over the foreign involvement, instructed Steel to cut ties with certain donors.
“It’s important to do all we can to safeguard our politics from illegal foreign meddling,” the RNC said in a statement while adding they had no intention of returning the money because they believe no campaign finance rules were broken.
"Most of the political donations identified by the Journal flowed to a fundraising committee called Trump Victory in the first half of the Trump presidency. The donations were among the largest of 2017, as the young administration was planning its China policy. The money accounts for just a fraction of the more than $190 million the committee has raised since Mr. Trump took office," Spegele wrote before adding the donors claimed they weren't working for the government and were only trying to enhance the business prospects u in the U.S.
The report notes that point man for the donations was a pro-Trump organizer named David Tian Wang, who founded a group called Chinese Americans for Trump.
"The Chinese consulate asked for Mr. Wang’s help in lobbying on China issues during the Trump administration, said Lance Chen, a former member of Mr. Wang’s political group. Mr. Chen said Mr. Wang tried to recruit him for the lobbying effort but he declined to help," The Journal reports. "Mr. Wang was soon listed as chief executive of a newly registered government-relations firm in California, Wang & Ma Government Relations LLC, state business records show. He also gave $150,000 to the Trump Victory fundraising committee, according to Federal Election Commission disclosures."
The report goes on to point out that Mr. Wang attended a Republican National Committee invitation-only leadership meeting in San Diego as a guest of Steel in 2017 and was accompanied by Zhao Gang, a researcher for China’s Ministry of Science and Technology," along with "Tang Ben, a China-born U.S. citizen who served as an executive-committee member at the China Strategic Culture Promotion Association, an opaque group that state media have said advises China’s leaders on security issues," and Li Su, "a government-connected businessman who has worked closely with a well-known former associate of China’s vice president."
As Spegele wrote, "The presence of Messrs. Zhao and Li at the GOP leadership event was unusual because federal election rules don’t permit foreign nationals to play any role in decision making at U.S. political committees."
The report noted that there is no evidence that the president was aware of the donations.
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