According to 52 United States Constitution Section 30121(a)(2), it shall be unlawful for a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value from a foreign national. Opposition research information of a political opponent is considered a “thing of value.”
The Trump Tower meeting involved Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rob Goldstone and at least five other people who gathered to receive “dirt” on Hillary Clinton from Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya who was a self-described informant to the office of the Russian Prosecutor General. Members of the Trump campaign met directly with a foreign national with ties to the Russian government to receive a “thing a value” which is an obvious violation of the law. They did not report this contact to the F.B.I. and when asked lied that the meeting was about Americans adopting Russian children.
Christopher Steele and the Clinton campaign had no direct contact. Ironically, Fusion GPS, a private investigation company headquartered in Washington D.C., was originally hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political website, to do opposition research on Trump and the other Republican presidential candidates. When it became clear that Trump would be the probable Republican nominee, they stopped funding the investigation.
Then the law firm Perkins Coie, on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC , retained Fusion GPS to continue the investigation. Fusion GPS hired retired British Intelligence (MI6) Russia Desk officer, Christopher Steele to investigate. He complied his findings in a dossier of raw intelligence memos. He was so concerned with these findings that he reported them to both British Intelligence and the F.B.I.. Then the dossier was made public by BuzzFeed digital media.
Conservative commentators express no difference between these two events. One said that the Clinton contact was “laundered” through the law firm and Fusion GPS before it reached the Clinton campaign. To me these two events are not the same. Even though the Trump campaign was found to have over one hundred contacts with Russia, the Mueller report was not able to prove conspiracy beyond a shadow of a doubt. Was the road that led to the Steele Dossier legal? I think so, but I’m not a lawyer. The main difference, for me, is one was immediately reported to the F.B.I. and the other was not. I am finding that searching for the truth and what is right in the field of politics is an daunting and overwhelming task. I listen to opposing arguments from both sides and hear them use the same claims against each other often in highly hypocritical fashion. Opposition research is legal. What happens when the research leads to numerous contacts with a hostile foreign government? You notify the F.B.I. which is exactly what Christopher Steele did. So, finally, there is my answer! Trump Tower illegal, Steele Dossier legal.