A public interest group has written to the Justice Department seeking a criminal investigation into Ben Carson’s claim that Donald Trump illegally offered him a job in his administration in exchange for his endorsement.
In a letter to the Department of Justice Criminal Division, the American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) asked for an investigation into Trump:
Former presidential candidate Dr. Carson endorsed Mr. Trump for the Republican presidential nomination on March 11, 2016. Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson met the day before to discuss and finalize the endorsement. Three days later, on March 14, Dr. Carson gave an interview to Newsmax TV to discuss his recent endorsement of Mr. Trump. During the interview, Dr. Carson stated that he believed Mr. Trump would “surround himself with very good people.” When asked if he would be one of those people, Dr. Carson responded, “I will be doing things as well.” When the interviewer asked whether that meant in a Trump administration, Dr. Carson replied, “Certainly in an advisory capacity.” The interviewer then asked Dr. Carson if “that’s been determined” and followed by asking, “When you sat down with [Mr. Trump] that was discussed?” Dr. Carson openly admitted, “Yes,” and said that while they “hadn’t hammered out all the details,” “it is very important that we work together.” When asked if this meant a cabinet position, Dr. Carson declined to “reveal any details about it right now, because all of this is still very liquid.”
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 599, “[w]hoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”
Dr. Carson’s comments strongly suggest that Mr. Trump promised him an administration position in return for his endorsement. In his interview, Dr. Carson stated that he would “certainly” have an advisory capacity within a potential Trump administration. When asked directly whether this role was discussed during their endorsement meeting, Dr. Carson responded, “Yes.” Dr. Carson’s assured answers lead to the reasonable conclusion that Mr. Trump promised Dr. Carson an administration post in order to secure his endorsement in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 599.
Federal law prohibits a candidate from directly or indirectly promising the appointment of any person to any public or private position in exchange for his or her support. Dr. Carson’s comments indicate that Mr. Trump used the promise of a role in his administration to secure Dr. Carson’s support for his presidential campaign. For the above stated reasons, we respectfully request that you undertake an immediate investigation of this matter.
During a week in which Donald Trump’s campaign manager has been arrested for battery, and he is being sued by protesters for assault and battery, it is only fitting that the Republican frontrunner’s bad week continues with a potential criminal investigation. Trump loves to brag about his deals, so it would surprise no one if he cut a deal with Ben Carson to gain his endorsement. Someone should probably look into what kind of deal Chris Christie got in exchange for his endorsement. I suspect that Trump offered to nominate Christie to be nation’s next attorney general if he wins.
It has been well established that Donald Trump knows nothing about the rules and laws that govern the nation’s electoral process. The fact of the matter is that if the Justice Department decided to investigate Trump, the Republican Party might not lift a finger to help him. A criminal investigation could give the RNC the excuse that they have been looking for to dump Trump.
Trump has already fallen apart under the slightly increased scrutiny that he has received this week. If he is the Republican nominee, requests like the one made by the ADLF will be the tip of the iceberg. The question isn’t necessarily will Donald Trump be facing a criminal investigation, but how many criminal investigations could Trump face if he becomes the Republican nominee?
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association