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Politics Former Rand Paul aide, pardoned by Trump, charged with funneling Russian money into 2016 election

04:40  21 september  2021
04:40  21 september  2021 Source:   businessinsider.com

As tanks rolled in 1991, AP photographer sprang into action

  As tanks rolled in 1991, AP photographer sprang into action MOSCOW (AP) — On the morning of Aug. 19, 1991, I woke up to a loud rumbling outside. It was the same sound I heard during an earlier showdown between Soviet troops and pro-democracy protesters in Lithuania. It was the sound of battle tanks. The ominous noise on that morning 30 years ago was coming from the main state TV headquarters, a 15-minute walk from my apartment building in northern Moscow. When I went outside, I saw troops encircling state broadcast facilities and the massive Ostankino TV tower. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Aug.

Jesse Benton wearing a suit and tie: Jesse Benton, spokesman for the Ron Paul campaign, speaking to reporters in the spin room after the CNN Debate on January 1, 2012. Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images © Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images Jesse Benton, spokesman for the Ron Paul campaign, speaking to reporters in the spin room after the CNN Debate on January 1, 2012. Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images
  • Jesse Benton worked as a campaign staffer for former Rep. Ron Paul, as well as Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell.
  • In 2016, he was convicted of campaign finance crimes related to his role on the Ron Paul campaign.
  • Trump pardoned him before leaving office.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A former campaign staffer for US Sen. Rand Paul has been charged with channeling money from Russia into the 2016 presidential election, the US Department of Justice said Monday.

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In an unsealed indictment, dated September 9, prosecutors allege Jesse Benton "conspired to illegally funnel thousands of dollars of foreign money from a Russian foreign national" into the campaign.

In October 2016, Benton received a $100,000 wire transfer from the unnamed Russian national, the indictment states, promising him that he would get to "meet a celebrity" at a fundraiser in Philadelphia on September 22, 2016.

Prosecutors do not name the candidate, but former President Donald Trump was hosting a fundraiser that night at the Ritz-Carlton in Center City, Philadelphia.

The Russian national attended the fundraiser, according to the indictment, his travel to the United States facilitated by an alleged co-conspirator, Roy Douglas Wead, a conservative author. All three "had official photographs taken with Political Candidate 1," prosecutors say.

Parliamentary election unlikely to change Russia's politics

  Parliamentary election unlikely to change Russia's politics MOSCOW (AP) — After a few weeks of desultory campaigning but months of relentless official moves to shut down significant opposition, Russia is holding three days of voting this weekend in a parliamentary election that is unlikely to change the country’s political complexion. There’s no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance of the State Duma, the elected lower house of parliament. The main questions to be answered are whether the party will retain its current two-thirds majority that allows it to amend the constitution; whether anemic turnout will dull the party’s prestige; and whether imprisoned oppositi

The two are accused of falsely portraying the contribution as payment for "consulting work." Benton kept most of it himself - $75,000, according to the indictment. The rest was donated to the politician in Benton's name.

Around the same time, Benton - who managed Paul's 2010 run for office, as well as the 2014 campaign of another Kentucky Republican, Sen. Mitch McConnell - was convicted of campaign finance fraud over his role in the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign. He was sentenced days before the Philadelphia fundraiser to two years probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Before leaving office, Trump pardoned Benton for that crime.

If convicted in this case, Benton and Wead could face significant prison time, with each of the six counts against them carrying a sentence of five t0 20 years behind bars.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

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