House Democrats investigate Trump dinner with oil executives over quid pro quo concerns

House Democrats have launched an investigation of a recent dinner that former President Donald Trump had with oil executives in Mar-a-Lago, where he requested $1 billion in donations.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee requested information from nine oil executives about the participation of their companies in the meeting. Democrats claimed that Trump’s request could have violated campaign financing laws, because it was possible for his request to be a form of a “quid pro quo” since Trump’s campaign promised to reverse many environmental policies from the Biden administration.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD, asked company executives for the names of all company representatives who attended the dinner. He also requested copies of Trump’s campaign materials, a description of any policy ideas discussed during the event and the contributions made by the company to the Trump Campaign at the dinner or afterward.

“Venture Global engages regularly with government officials – both past and current – on a bipartisan level and this meeting was not different.” A Venture Global spokesperson said that they would be happy to have a similar discussion with President Biden anytime.

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The Washington Examiner asked the Trump campaign for comment, but it did not receive a response.

Republicans control the House, so Democrats in the committee do not have certain investigative powers. If companies refuse to provide information, the committee cannot issue a subpoena. Sheldon Whitehouse, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee (which has a wider subpoena authority), is planning to start an investigation.

Whitehouse stated that “fossil-fuel malfeasance” will cost Americans trillions of dollars in climate damage. The Budget Committee is looking into ways to make sure the industry can’t simply buy politicians to load the bill on taxpayers.

Experts said Trump didn’t violate campaign finance laws because he would have to state that he would take a specific action in exchange for the funds. Trump said he would end the Biden administration’s freeze on new permits for liquefied gas exports, and lease more oil drilling areas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Trump was doing what many candidates do: saying, “Please give me money and I will do things that I am sure you want,” said Dan Weiner of the Brennan Center for Justice, the law school at New York University. The brazenness of Trump’s actions is quite astounding, and it goes against the spirit, if not letter, of the law.