RELEASE: New CAP Report Provides Road Map for Congressional ‘Follow the Money’ Investigations

Washington, D.C. — Anonymous bank accounts, shell corporations, and front companies are all tools that foreign adversaries can use to execute anonymous financial transactions that facilitate attacks on free and fair democratic elections. A new report today from the Center for American Progress reveals how corporate opacity and Donald Trump’s business interests converged to forge channels that could have allowed the Russian government to provide material support to Trump’s campaign.

U.S. law bans foreign nationals from donating to political campaigns, but they can circumvent restrictions by routing financial support through shadowy transaction vehicles. While Trump vehemently denied financial links to Russia during his campaign, the Kremlin knew otherwise.

The report includes a comprehensive accounting of what is known and, more importantly, what is still hidden about more than a dozen suspicious transactions that occurred among Trump associates and Russia-linked figures during the 2016 presidential campaign and through the inauguration. It serves as a road map for anyone with subpoena power and oversight mandate who will be looking into the patterns of suspicious financial activity surrounding the central players in the special counsel’s probe. The report also provides an overview of how money laundering is used to enable information warfare and influence operations, and looks at what happened during the 2016 campaign, focusing on the flurries of suspicious activity that surrounded key flashpoints on the campaign. With painstaking attention to detail, suspect transactions are examined to establish that, during the campaign and presidential transition, Trump and his associates had an alarming number of compromising financial entanglements with actors representing a hostile foreign power.

“What is known of the Kremlin’s use of financial resources to help elect President Trump, and his own willingness to violate campaign finance laws, raises serious questions about so many unexplained transactions executed during the campaign and immediately after. These are questions that newly empowered congressional investigators can, and should, look into immediately,” said Diana Pilipenko, associate director for anti-corruption and illicit finance at the Center for American Progress and one of the report’s authors. “Recent indictments, guilty pleas, and filings by special counsel Robert Mueller clearly signal that financial entanglements are critical to understanding the Trump-Russia relationship. The time for real Congressional oversight of corruption is now.”

Loopholes and crippling opacity in the current regulatory landscape allow nefarious actors to easily exploit ambiguity and gaps in regulations. The authors conclude that greater corporate transparency, tighter campaign finance disclosure laws, a more active Federal Election Commission, and protection of the special counsel investigation can all help curb foreign interference in future elections.

Click here to read the report: “Following the Money: Trump and Russia-Linked Transactions From the Campaign to the Presidential Inauguration” by Diana Pilipenko and Talia Dessel

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Morgan Finkelstein at mfinkelstein@americanprogress.org or 202-478-5311.