A former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. and Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky., was convicted Thursday of illegally helping a Russian businessman contribute to former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
Benton, the husband of Paul's niece, was pardoned by Trump in 2020 for a different campaign finance crime, which involved attempting to buy an endorsement for former Rep. Ron Paul's, R-Texas, 2012 presidential bid.
But Benton left out the detail that he was getting reimbursed by the Russian citizen for the donation, prosecutors said.
Vasilenko posted the photograph with Trump on Instagram with a banner that said "Two Presidents" and advertised his own company.
Benton was previously convicted in 2016, when a former Iowa state senator admitted to taking $73,000 in payments from Ron Paul's presidential campaign in exchange for switching his endorsement to Paul.
When the scandal broke in 2014, Benton was serving as campaign manager for McConnell's 2014 re-election bid.
Trump issued a presidential pardon to Benton in December 2020 before leaving office at the urging of Rand Paul. »