The men accused of illegally funneling millions to failed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign finally went to trial and the lawyers for one man offered an original defense, blame Trump.
“This is a case about a large-scale conspiracy to funnel well in excess of $1 million into the U.S. political system — money that came from the United Arab Emirates,” prosecutor Michelle Parikh told jurors. Khawaja wanted very badly to gain power and influence in the U.S.”
A defense attorney for a California businessman accused of illegally donating more than $3 million to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign said the man feared how Donald Trump’s ban on Muslim visitors would hurt his business.
“He believed that his contribution to Hillary Clinton’s campaign would save his business,” defense lawyer Megan Church said of Los Angeles luxury transport provider Rani El-Saadi.
“His company catered to clients who were travelers from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East — the same people Mr. Trump intended to ban from the U.S. A Trump presidency posed a fatal threat to Mr. El-Saadi’s business. That’s why he donated.”
The prosecution’s first witness, former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser Diane Hamwi, said one defendant, Andy Khawaja, hired her for $7,500 month in the spring of 2016 to advise him on how to get close to American politicians.
“He hired me to help him develop more relationships in the political sphere. I was ensuring that when he made the large contributions he was making that he was getting the most for that.
“The amounts that people were writing were quite large for first-time donors.”
Hamwi said after Hillary Clinton attended the intimate donor event in October 2016, Clinton fundraiser Stephanie Smith asked Khawaja to come up with more cash for the campaign but Hamwi stepped in.
“I am asking you not to ask Andy to raise any more money,” Hamwi wrote to Smith and when asked why she must turn off the spigot, Hamwi said: “Because I did not know who it would come from.
“At this point, we were very close to Election Day and it was very important to know who was writing large checks.”
She detailed to the court what happened when the FBI came knocking.
“The FBI was insinuating that the money they contributed was not their money and Andy was saying that they can do whatever they want with the bonus money he gives them,” Hamwi said.
“I sort of was speechless to be honest. What he just said did not sound kosher to me. He just admitted he gave them money.”
BIG LEGAL NEWS: Former DSCC fundraiser was the feds’ lead-off witness today as 2 men went on trial in alleged conspiracy to use conduits to funnel $3M+ to Clinton groups in 2016 & later $1M+ to GOP/Trump orgs. Feds say $ from UAE Govt but didn’t tell jury https://t.co/wsvc6zsTuK— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) February 25, 2022