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Rapper Prakazrel "Pras" Michel was convicted of charges related to an international conspiracy to influence Obama and Trump. Former President Barack Obama was not indicted.
Fugees rapper Prakazrel "Pras" Michel was convicted April 26 of charges related to an international political conspiracy that targeted former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Some social media users speculated the scheme would lead, or had already led, to Obama’s arrest.
"Barack A.r.r.e.s.t.e.d Next-! Obama C.a.m.p.a.i.g.n took $30 Million ILLEGALLY From Commie China F.u.g.i.t.i.v.e!" the caption of an April 29 Facebook post read, attributing the information to "CNN BREAKING NEWS."
Yes, the post really used that many periods. The video is a repost of an episode of "The Benny Show," posted April 7 by conservative commentator and podcast host Benny Johnson. Johnson’s episode was captioned with text similar to that in the reposted video, but couched as a question, "Barack Arrested Next?!"
Obama was not arrested or indicted in relation to the ongoing trial, and prosecutors have not indicated his campaign knew about the foreign influence scheme. The fugitive in the case is a Malaysian national. The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
During the episode, Johnson speculated about Obama potentially being arrested because of campaign finance violations. He floated the idea that people overlooked money funneled illegally to the Obama campaign, while people went after Trump for "bookkeeping violations," a reference to the indictment against Trump over payments to adult film actor Stormy Daniels.
Before the trial, Justice Department lawyer John Keller said the government was not intending to call any former presidents, and Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rejected Michel’s attempts to seek testimony from Trump and Obama, saying it would be irrelevant.
Johnson discussed actor Leonardo DiCaprio taking the witness stand April 3 in the trial of Michel, who was accused of plotting with Malaysian financier Jho Low to funnel money into Obama’s 2012 campaign. Low is now a fugitive, possibly in China, wanted by U.S. and Malaysian law enforcement for allegedly stealing $4.5 billion from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
Foreign donations to U.S. campaigns are prohibited by federal election law.
DiCaprio knew Low because the financier supported DiCaprio’s charitable foundation and helped fund "The Wolf of Wall Street," a 2013 movie starring DiCaprio. The actor told a Washington, D.C., jury April 3 that Low said he planned to donate up to $30 million to help Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
Michel testified April 18 that he received $20 million from Low to help him get a photo with Obama, and said Low did not direct him to make campaign donations with the money for the photo.
On April 26, Michel was convicted of 10 counts related to the political conspiracy.
Obama was not arrested or indicted in relation to this case. We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, April 29, 2023
The Benny Show Facebook video, April 7, 2023
PolitiFact, Donald Trump indictment: A roundup of PolitiFact’s fact-checks, stories and explainers, April 3, 2023
Department of Justice, U.S. Entertainer Convicted of Engaging in Foreign Influence Campaign, April 26, 2023
BBC News, The trial with A-listers, a Fugee and a fugitive, March 28, 2023
NBC News, Conspiracy trial of former Fugees member Pras Michel begins in federal court, March 30, 2023
Politico, Feds: Fugees rapper Pras Michel ran global influence-peddling scheme for cash, March 30, 2023
Politico, Fugees’ Pras Michel plans subpoenas for Obama and Trump, Jan. 17, 2023
Reuters, Leonardo DiCaprio says Malaysian financier planned to donate to Obama's 2012 campaign, April 4, 2023
NPR, Prosecutors say Pras Michel broke the law 'to get paid', March 30, 2023
Reuters, Fugees star says money from Malaysian financier was for Obama photo, not campaign donation, April 18, 2023
CBS News, Rapper Pras Michel found guilty on all 10 counts in international fraud trial, April 26, 2023
Politico, Fugees rapper found guilty in political conspiracy, April 26, 2023
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