November 19, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON  - Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY) called on the FBI to investigate a possible pay-to-play scheme between the Republican National Committee and President Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Both Reps. Lieu and Rice are former prosecutors. 

In the letter, the Members wrote:

Dear Director Wray,

Thank you for your service. As former prosecutors, we write with deep concern about a possible pay-to-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee (RNC) and President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas, Doug Manchester. We request that the FBI open an investigation to determine whether federal laws were violated.

In September 2019, President Trump sent a tweet praising Mr. Manchester. As reported by CBS News, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent an email three days later asking Mr. Manchester, whose Senate confirmation had been held up for two and a half years, for a $500,000 contribution: "Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?”

Mr. Manchester responded by linking the contribution to his Senate confirmation. In his email, he acknowledged that as a nominee he should not make a contribution, indicated his wife would send a $100,000 contribution anyway, and urged Ms. McDaniel to pressure the Senate Majority Leader to bring his ambassadorial confirmation up for a floor vote with a promise that his family would “respond”:

“As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!”

Ms. McDaniel’s fundraising request of a presidential nominee pending confirmation and Mr. Manchester’s apparent agreement if his Ambassadorship was confirmed plays to Americans’ worst fears that this administration is selling public office to the highest bidder.

The exchange may also be a violation of the law. Mr. Manchester’s email specifically copied two staffers for Senate Republicans who are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and receive political support from the RNC. As you know, bribery of a public official is prohibited under 18 U.S.C. 201, and conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States is prohibited under 18 U.S.C. 371. We urge the FBI to investigate these allegations and reassure the American people that public office is not for sale.

We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to hearing from you in a timely manner.


Ted W. Lieu                                       Kathleen Rice
Member of Congress                        Member of Congress