Trump pardonee convicted of funneling Russian money to the Trump campaign

Jessie Benton (45), a former senior aide to Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and powerful MAGA operative, was found guilty of funneling an illegal foreign campaign donation from a Russian oligarch to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

From The Washington Post:

The evidence at trial showed that Benton bought a $25,000 ticket to a September 2016 Republican National Committee (RNC) event on behalf of Roman Vasilenko, a Russian naval officer turned multilevel marketer. (Vasilenko is under investigation in Russia for allegedly running a pyramid scheme, according to the Kommersant newspaper; he could not be reached for comment.) The donation got Vasilenko a picture with Trump and entrance to a "business roundtable" with the future president.

Vasilenko connected with Benton through Doug Wead, an evangelical ally of the Bush family who was also involved in multilevel marketing. Vasilenko sent $100,000 to Bentonwho was working for a pro-Trump super PAC at the time, supposedly for consulting services. Benton subsequently donated $25,000 to the RNC by credit card to cover the ticket.

Benton pocketed the leftover $75,000.

Poor Jessie thought he was in clear when his god-emperor Trump pardoned him in late 2021 after he'd been convicted for filing false statements in an attempt to hide bribery payments made to Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson in exchange for his endorsement of Senator Rand Paul. Unfortunately for Benton, the new charges came after Trump was out of office.

As a bonus tidbit, Benton is married to Paul's niece. Of course, Rand Paul, pure as the driven snow, had no idea what was going on.

Benton says he is innocent of all charges and intends to appeal the conviction.