Jared Kushner helped set up a shell company that secretly paid President Donald Trump's family members and spent nearly half of his 2020 campaign's funds.
The president's son-in-law and White House senior adviser directed his sister-in-law Lara Trump, Vice President Mike Pence's nephew John Pence and Trump campaign CFO Sean Dollman to sit on the shell company's board, a source familiar with the operation told Business Insider.
The company, which was incorporated as American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC, spent $617 million of the campaign's $1.26 billion war chest, according to campaign finance records.
Trump's top advisers and campaign staff told Insider they were unaware of how the shell company operated, and campaign officials even conducted an internal audit of its operations under former campaign manager Brad Parscale but never reported those findings, and the next campaign manager Bill Stepien had little involvement with AMMC.
"Nothing was done without Jared's approval," said a former advisor to Trump's 2016 campaign. "What Stepien doesn't know is because Jared doesn't want him to know."
The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a civil complaint in July with the Federal Election Commission accusing the campaign of disguising" about $170 million in spending "by laundering the funds" through AMMC.
"[It's 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," said Brendan Fischer, the center's director of federal reform.
The Department of Justice may open a criminal investigation if the government suspects the payments were a "knowing and willful" violation of election law.
Several sources from the Justice Department and FEC told Insider that investigators may already be looking into the campaign's activity.
"Lara Trump and John Pence resigned from the AMMC board in October 2019 to focus solely on their campaign activities, however, there was never any ethical or legal reason why they could not serve on the board in the first place," said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign's communications director. "John and Lara were not compensated by AMMC for their service as board members."