President Donald Trump's oldest son, Donald Jr., was likely paid $50,000 for an address to a think tank in France that has cooperated with Russia to end the civil war in Syria, according to The Wall Street Journal.
American, European, and Arab officials were sourced in the report, which said that the Center of Political and Foreign Affairs hosted the dinner in Paris on Oct. 11, 2016.
In December, Fabian Baussart, the center's president, nominated Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize. Baussart's wife, Randa Kassis, is Syrian and leads a Russia-endorsed faction that is in talks to end the conflict in her home country.
The couple said they do not represent Russia in the talks.
"I believe that President Putin has deserved it. He is the only one who is truly fighting terrorism," Baussart said to RIA Novosti about the Nobel Peace Prize.
Trump Jr.'s appearance could bring about more questions about the president's ties to Russia, and also about a member of the president's circle being paid by an outside party, potentially to earn influence with the Trump family.
When Trump's Democratic presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, was paid for speaker fees, Trump called that "pay for play."
Trump Jr. is the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, which did not dispute the report of the $50,000 payday when The Journal asked.
"Donald Trump Jr. has been participating in business-related speaking engagements for over a decade — discussion a range of topics including sharing his entrepreneurial experiences and offering career specific advice," Amanda Miller, Trump Organization vice president for marketing, told the Journal.
Some who have participants in events at the French think tanks said it pays its speakers 20 to 30 percent above their usual fee.
Former State Department official Robert Ford said that Kassis has been helpful, because she represents Syria's Christian minority and has ties to the Assad regime.
The October address is among a number of contacts people in Trump's inner circle have made with individuals with Russian connections and interests, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Journal reported.
Sources in Congress told ABC News that Trump Jr.'s speech raises more suspicion about communication between the Trump team and Russia during the presidential campaign.
However, some familiar with France and Washington diplomatic circles have not heard of Baussart's group.
"I have been dealing with French think tanks and research institutes for 35 years, and I've never heard of it That tells you something," Daniel S. Hamilton, a director at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said in the ABC News report.
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