CREW files bribery complaint against Trump over oil industry donations

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a criminal bribery complaint urging the Justice Department to investigate former President Trump’s solicitation of campaign donations from fossil fuel executives.

The former president met with oil industry executives in April and asked for $1 billion in campaign contributions, The Hill reported last month.

The Washington Post, which first reported the request, also reported that the former president described the donations as a “deal” and said that in a second term, Trump would unwind Biden administration regulations on industry. A person with knowledge of the meeting who confirmed the request to The Hill denied it involved a quid pro quo agreement.

The chairs of the Senate Budget and Finance committees have also announced a joint investigation into the meeting, with Budget Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) calling it the “definition of corruption.”

The former president reportedly promised industry executives he would end a Biden administration pause on new natural gas export approvals and asked attendees to “be generous” at a fundraising event in late May, although he reportedly did not request a dollar amount, according to The Washington Post.

“We cannot have government officials making important policy as a result of corrupt exchanges that benefit them, rather than what is in the interest of the American people. That’s why the law is clear that a request for a benefit, including campaign contributions, in exchange for an official act is a bribe,” CREW President Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.

“Donald Trump’s actions here follow a pattern of Trump opening himself up to corrupt influence, courting conflicts of interest, and using official positions to enrich himself–and in this case may run afoul of the criminal law.”

The letter is addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Corey Amundson, chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. CREW previously filed a complaint against then-President Trump alleging that he violated constitutional prohibitions against federal officials accepting foreign governments’ gifts or payments. The Supreme Court ordered the case dismissed in the lower court in January 2021 after Trump left office.

In a statement to The Hill, Trump campaign press secretary Karoline Leavitt called the Post report “false,” adding, “Joe Biden is controlled by environmental extremists who are trying to implement the most radical energy agenda in history and force Americans to purchase electric vehicles they can’t afford. President Trump is supported by people who share his vision of American energy dominance to protect our national security and bring down the cost of living for all Americans.”

Updated at 4:24 p.m.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.