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Background

The impeachment of Trump over the Trump-Ukraine scandal has been all over the news as of late for the public hearings. One of the things under scrutiny is the fact that President Trump violated 52 U.S. Section 30121 when he asked President Zelensky for an investigation into the Bidens. The law states the following:

(a)Prohibition

It shall be unlawful for—

(1)a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—

(A)a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;

(B)a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or

(C)an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or

(2)a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

However, the aid was eventually delivered to Ukraine and Ukraine ended up not conducting an investigation into the Bidens. This lead me to wonder if the legality of soliciting is contingent upon receiving the thing solicited by. In other words, I am asking...

Question

Does the word "soliciting" in the cited law above meant that thing of value being solicited must be received by the solicitor?

  • 1
    Such an investigation presumably has value to the Republican Party, but considering the wording of the quoted statute, I can imagine the defense arguing that it is not a “thing.” – WGroleau Nov 16 at 16:02
  • 1
    By analogy, extortion would not be a crime if you don't follow through with the threats. This would obviously be a problem since everyone could just start making threats and just avoid following through right at the end to avoid being charged. Extertion is the crime of making a request+threats to force someone to accept the request, if you follow through that's a second, additional, crime you are committing on top of extortion. – Bakuriu Nov 16 at 20:29
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    @isakbob: no. Solicitation is asking for the "contribution or donation", not receiving it. That's another crime. So many crimes. So little time. – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Nov 17 at 3:50
  • 3
    "Yes I tried to shoot the guy in order to rob him, but the bullet missed and he didn't give me his wallet, so no crime was committed". In any other context (Or even the current context) this defense sounds crazy, and is still illegal. – Issel Nov 17 at 17:01
  • @Issel Actually, murder and attempted murder are two different charges. – Lightness Races with Monica Nov 17 at 22:13
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There is a very detailed definition of "solicit" in 11 CFR § 110.20 - Prohibition on contributions, donations, expenditures, independent expenditures, and disbursements by foreign nationals (52 U.S.C. 30121, 36 U.S.C. 510):

(6) Solicit has the same meaning as in 11 CFR 300.2(m).

where 11 CFR 300.2(m) is:

To solicit. For the purposes of part 300, to solicit means to ask, request, or recommend, explicitly or implicitly, that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value. A solicitation is an oral or written communication that, construed as reasonably understood in the context in which it is made, contains a clear message asking, requesting, or recommending that another person make a contribution, donation, transfer of funds, or otherwise provide anything of value. A solicitation may be made directly or indirectly. The context includes the conduct of persons involved in the communication. A solicitation does not include mere statements of political support or mere guidance as to the applicability of a particular law or regulation.

(1) The following types of communications constitute solicitations:

(i) A communication that provides a method of making a contribution or donation, regardless of the communication. This includes, but is not limited to, providing a separate card, envelope, or reply device that contains an address to which funds may be sent and allows contributors or donors to indicate the dollar amount of their contribution or donation to the candidate, political committee, or other organization.

(ii) A communication that provides instructions on how or where to send contributions or donations, including providing a phone number specifically dedicated to facilitating the making of contributions or donations. However, a communication does not, in and of itself, satisfy the definition of “to solicit” merely because it includes a mailing address or phone number that is not specifically dedicated to facilitating the making of contributions or donations.

(iii) A communication that identifies a Web address where the Web page displayed is specifically dedicated to facilitating the making of a contribution or donation, or automatically redirects the Internet user to such a page, or exclusively displays a link to such a page. However, a communication does not, in and of itself, satisfy the definition of “to solicit” merely because it includes the address of a Web page that is not specifically dedicated to facilitating the making of a contribution or donation.

(2) The following statements constitute solicitations:

(i) “Please give $100,000 to Group X.”

(ii) “It is important for our State party to receive at least $100,000 from each of you in this election.”

(iii) “Group X has always helped me financially in my elections. Keep them in mind this fall.”

(iv) “X is an effective State party organization; it needs to obtain as many $100,000 donations as possible.”

(v) “Giving $100,000 to Group X would be a very smart idea.”

(vi) “Send all contributions to the following address * * *.”

(vii) “I am not permitted to ask for contributions, but unsolicited contributions will be accepted at the following address * * *.”

(viii) “Group X is having a fundraiser this week; you should go.”

(ix) “You have reached the limit of what you may contribute directly to my campaign, but you can further help my campaign by assisting the State party.”

(x) A candidate hands a potential donor a list of people who have contributed to a group and the amounts of their contributions. The candidate says, “I see you are not on the list.”

(xi) “I will not forget those who contribute at this crucial stage.”

(xii) “The candidate will be very pleased if we can count on you for $10,000.”

(xiii) “Your contribution to this campaign would mean a great deal to the entire party and to me personally.”

(xiv) Candidate says to potential donor: “The money you will help us raise will allow us to communicate our message to the voters through Labor Day.”

(xv) “I appreciate all you've done in the past for our party in this State. Looking ahead, we face some tough elections. I'd be very happy if you could maintain the same level of financial support for our State party this year.”

(xvi) The head of Group X solicits a contribution from a potential donor in the presence of a candidate. The donor asks the candidate if the contribution to Group X would be a good idea and would help the candidate's campaign. The candidate nods affirmatively.

(3) The following statements do not constitute solicitations:

(i) During a policy speech, the candidate says: “Thank you for your support of the Democratic Party.”

(ii) At a ticket-wide rally, the candidate says: “Thank you for your support of my campaign.”

(iii) At a Labor Day rally, the candidate says: “Thank you for your past financial support of the Republican Party.”

(iv) At a GOTV rally, the candidate says: “Thank you for your continuing support.”

(v) At a ticket-wide rally, the candidate says: “It is critical that we support the entire Democratic ticket in November.”

(vi) A Federal officeholder says: “Our Senator has done a great job for us this year. The policies she has vigorously promoted in the Senate have really helped the economy of the State.”

(vii) A candidate says: “Thanks to your contributions we have been able to support our President, Senator and Representative during the past election cycle.”

29

"Solicit" means "ask for". A solicitation can be refused, and it is still a solicitation. That's why the law says "solicit, accept, or receive".

  • 2
    American English usually prefers long Latinate words over short Germanic ones. Otherwise it would say "ask, get, or take". – alephzero Nov 16 at 19:28
  • 9
    @alephzero - I blame the French. If they hadn't invaded England in 1066 and taken over, we'd all still be speaking perfectly good Old English. Gif hit sy gōd ġenohte for ealdfæder hit sy gōd ġenohte for mec! – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Nov 17 at 4:03
  • @alephzero: Pedantically, "ask, take, or get" seems more correct (respectively). – Flater Nov 18 at 12:45

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