https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/poli...able/825346001/WASHINGTON ó Recent revelations that money from Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped pay for a dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia have drawn comparisons to a meeting that Trump campaign officials had at Trump Tower last year with Russians promising "dirt" on Clinton.
The Trump Tower meeting has become just one focal point in a sweeping investigation by three congressional committees and special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
But President Trump and some of his allies have pointed to the Democrats' funding of the dossier to allege that it is the "real" Russian collusion scandal because it included some information from Russian sources.Are the two actions really comparable? Here's a look:
..........................................................................................5. So is there any real difference in what the two campaigns did?
Yes, experts say there are significant legal differences.
"One side is a private investigator under contract and the other involves alleged collaboration with a hostile government seeking to meddle in the U.S. election," said Andrew Wright, an associate professor at Savannah Law School in Georgia and former staff director of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The Trump campaign's actions could put it at odds with federal election law, Wright said.
"Campaign finance laws prohibit soliciting or receiving a 'thing of value' from a foreign entity because that would constitute an illegal campaign contribution," he said. "Information could amount to an illegal in-kind contribution from a foreign government. Russia repeatedly dangled information in order to get its hooks into the Trump campaign."
In contrast, Wright said, "Fusion GPS was paid for opposition research services at arms-length. As such, it was not a campaign contribution but rather contracted services."
The fact that Steele ended up talking to a couple of Russian sources to compile his dossier doesn't change that, experts said.Charles Tiefer, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and the special deputy chief counsel for the House Iran-Contra Committee's investigation of the Reagan administration, said the actions by the two campaigns "could not be more different."
"Steele was British, but there is no reason to believe Britain ... was meddling in the election," Tiefer said. "In contrast, the Russian effort to interfere in the U.S. election connected in a number of ways with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and his network. The Russian effort was very active on many election fronts, such as hacking, publicizing hacked materials, placing ads in social media with undisclosed identities, and seeking to work directly with the Trump campaign."6. How do the two campaigns characterize each other's actions?
In her interview on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Clinton said there was a major difference between her campaign paying for legal opposition research and Trump's team possibly colluding with Russia to influence the U.S. election.
"I think most serious people understand that," Clinton said.
Trump has called the Democrats' funding of the dossier "a sad commentary on politics in this country."
"I think itís very sad what they've done with this fake dossier," Trump told reporters on Oct. 25. "It was made up, and I understand they paid a tremendous amount of money, and Hillary Clinton always denied it. The Democrats always denied it, and now only because itís going to come out in a court case, they said, yes, they did it. They admitted it, and they're embarrassed by it, but I think itís a disgrace."