Ex-Fugees rapper found guilty of helping China influence US
STORY: Rapper Pras Michel from ‘90s group The Fugees was convicted of criminal charges on Wednesday, linked to campaigns meant to influence the U.S. government, including one on behalf of China.
His lawyer told reporters outside the Washington courthouse that he was “extremely disappointed”, after the jury found Michel guilty of 10 felony counts.
They include conspiracy, acting as an agent of a foreign government, witness tampering and falsifying campaign finance records.
It followed a trial that was filled with political intrigue and featured high-profile testimonies from Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Michel was accused of taking millions of dollars from Malaysian businessman Jho Low, in exchange for plotting to influence the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Low remains at large. He faces separate federal charges in New York for allegedly embezzling billions from Malaysia's 1MDB sovereign wealth fund.
During the trial, prosecutors said the Grammy-award-winning rapper became desperate for cash in 2012 and found a solution through Low.
They said Michel funnelled about $2 million from the Malaysian financier into Obama's re-election campaign that year, masking the money’s foreign source.
They also accused Michel of trying to push the Trump-era Justice Department to scrap civil and criminal probes into Low over the 1MDB scandal.
And said he tried to lobby the government on behalf of China to send Chinese billionaire and dissident Guo Wengui back there.
On Wednesday, Michel’s lawyer said, disappointment aside, he remained “enormously confident” that the rapper would “ultimately prevail”.
The prosecution and defense have until July to handle a number of post-trial motions, including a request for the judge to acquit Michel despite the jury’s verdict.