Trump Says He’d Accept ‘Dirt’ About Opponents From Foreign Sources

President Trump says in a new interview that he would be willing to break the law to get "oppo research" on an opponent.

In an interview with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, President Trump contradicted the directions of his own Director of the Federal Bureau Of Investigation and said there’s nothing wrong with a candidate for office accepting help from a foreign source, presumably including a Federal government:

President Trump said on Wednesday that there would be nothing wrong with accepting incriminating information about an election opponent from Russia or other foreign governments and that he saw no reason to call the F.B.I. if it were to happen again.

“It’s not an interference,” he said in an interview with ABC News, describing it as “opposition research.” “They have information — I think I’d take it.” He would call the F.B.I. only “if I thought there was something wrong.”

His comments put him at odds not only with Democratic candidates who have made a point of forswearing help from foreign governments as they seek their party’s nomination to challenge him but also with his own F.B.I. director, Christopher S. Wray, who has said politicians in such circumstances should call his agency.

“I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the F.B.I. In my whole life,” Mr. Trump said dismissively. “You don’t call the F.B.I. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do.” He added, “Give me a break — life doesn’t work that way.”

When the interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, noted that the F.B.I. director has said a candidate should call, Mr. Trump snapped, “The F.B.I. director is wrong.”

The president’s remarks came on the same day that his son Donald Trump Jr. appeared on Capitol Hill to answer questions from lawmakers. During the 2016 campaign, the younger Mr. Trump — along with Jared Kushner, the future president’s son-in-law, and Paul Manafort, then his campaign chairman — met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after being told she would have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

The president has previously defended the decision to take the meeting on the grounds that any campaign would listen to opposition research, even from a foreign adversary. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, concluded in his recent report that Russia made a concerted effort to help Mr. Trump get elected and that Mr. Trump’s campaign benefited from it, but he established no illegal conspiracy between the two.

In testimony to Congress last month, Mr. Wray, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, said campaigns should report it if they hear from foreign governments. “I think my view is that if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that’s something that the F.B.I. would want to know about,” Mr. Wray said.

When pressed during the interview, Mr. Trump allowed that maybe he would call the F.B.I. but only after listening to the incriminating information first. “I think maybe you do both,” he said, adding: “There’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

His answer mirrored one given recently by Mr. Kushner, who said he was not sure he would call the F.B.I. if a foreign government again offered damaging information about an opponent. “I don’t know,” he said in an interview with Axios, an online news organization. “It’s hard to do hypotheticals, but the reality is is that we were not given anything that was salacious.”

It was the second time in recent weeks that Mr. Trump has publicly chided Mr. Wray. After the F.B.I. director rejected the word “spying” to describe the bureau’s investigation of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, Mr. Trump lashed out. “I thought it was a ridiculous answer,” Mr. Trump said last month.

More from The Washington Post:

President Trump on Wednesday said he would consider accepting information on his political opponents from a foreign government, despite the concerns raised by the intelligence community and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In an Oval Office interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump also said he wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI if a foreign country approached his campaign with “oppo research” about his Democratic challenger.

“I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘We have information on your opponent,’ oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

When Stephanopoulos asked the president whether he’d want that kind of “interference” in American politics, Trump pushed back on the word.

“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong.”

Although Mueller did not find enough evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy involving the Trump campaign in his probe of Russia’s role in the 2016 election, his report said that the Russian government interfered in the election in a “sweeping and systemic fashion” and that Trump’s campaign was open to assistance from Russian sources.

Trump’s remarks go further than those of his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, who told Axios last week that he didn’t know whether he’d contact the FBI if Russians reached out again.

And they are likely to reignite a debate on the 2020 campaign trail and in Congress over what should be considered acceptable behavior by candidates — a debate that was unresolved by Mueller’s decision not to bring charges against any Americans related to Russia’s attack on the U.S. political system.

Trump dismissed the idea that his son, Donald Trump Jr., should have told the FBI about his 2016 contacts with the Russians, including the Trump Tower meeting Trump Jr. hosted after he was promised damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.

“You’re a congressman, someone comes up and says, ‘I have information on your opponent,’ do you call the FBI?” Trump asked.

“If it’s coming from Russia, you do,” Stephanopoulos said, pointing out that Al Gore’s campaign contacted the FBI when it received a stolen briefing book in 2000 and that the FBI director said recently that the agency should have been notified when the Trump campaign received an offer of information on Clinton.

“The FBI director is wrong,” Trump said.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.

The FBI offers generic defensive briefings to campaigns, warning them of foreign influence efforts, and at a May 7 Senate hearing, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said any suspected attempts should be reported.

“I think my view is that if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation-state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation-state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that is something that the FBI would want to know about,” Wray said.

It is illegal to accept foreign campaign contributions, although an exchange of information is a more murky matter.

Mueller found that it was not clear whether courts would accept that opposition research provided free by a foreign government constituted a “thing of value” and thus an illegal foreign campaign contribution.
Ultimately, Mueller also found that he could not sustain a criminal case around the meeting, in part because it would be difficult to prove that Trump Jr. knew it could violate the law.

Trevor Potter, counsel to John McCain’s presidential campaigns, said that any candidate who takes intelligence from a foreign government would be compromised and left beholden to that country.

“The Founders feared exactly such foreign attempts to interfere in U.S. politics,” he said.

Here’s the transcript of the relevant part of the interview:

Stephanopoulos: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept or should they call the FBI?

Trump: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, “We have information on your opponent,” oh, I think I’d want to hear it….If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI. If I thought there was something wrong.

And here’s the video:

The roots of this question from Stephanopoulos, of course, lie in the now-infamous June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who had previously been linked to the Russian government and has since admitted to being an informant for the Russian Government. As we learned several days after the initial Times report when Trump Jr. made the emails he had exchanged with campaign officials prior to the meeting public, the meeting was scheduled after Trump Jr. and others in the campaign were told that Veselnitskaya had access to damaging information about Hillary Clinton and the clear implication was that this information came, either directly or indirectly, from the Russian government. In one of those emails, Trump Jr. responded “That’s great” when informed that the lawyer had access to damaging information about Clinton and the Democrats. Later, Veselnitskaya said in interviews that Trump Jr. offered a quid pro quo in exchange for information about Clinton.

When the meeting was first reported, though, both Trump Jr. and the White House made the false claim its purpose was to discuss issues such as the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans as well as sanctions imposed against Russia in the wake of its seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. That claim was made most prominently in a statement released by the White House while the President was returning from a visit to Europe. As we learned when the younger Trump released the email chain discussed above, this claim was false. This is significant because the President himself participated in drafting that initial statement that falsely stated the original purpose for the meeting. The fact that we now know it was false makes the President’s involvement in what may constitute an attempted cover-up extremely significant.  It is worth noting that Trump had previously stated that the meeting’s initial purpose was “opposition research,” however that admission came before we knew about the President’s role in drafting the White House statement that attempted to cover-up the motivation for the meeting.

As Kevin Drum correctly points out, Trump did not specifically say, and Stephanopoulos did not specifically ask him about, that he would accept information from a foreign government which is, of course, the allegation that lies at the center of the Russia investigation. Instead, Stephanopoulos asked if he would accept information from “a foreigner,” specifically identifying Russia and China and Trump responded how he did. In that respect, Trump could say that a headline claiming he said he’d accept aid from a foreign government is “Fake News” notwithstanding what he actually said.

In any case, it strikes me that it hardly matters. It is against the law for a candidate for Federal office to accept a donation from any foreign source, whether it’s affiliated with a government or not. For purposes of Federal election law, a donation is defined as anything of value and not just a cash donation. This is why, for example, the money that was paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to remain quiet about their affairs with Trump in advance of the election are considered donations to the Trump campaign. They were not direct cash contributions to the campaign, but they were made with the intent of benefiting, or in those cases protecting. One could arguably, and I think convincingly, say that “oppo research” about an opponent is most assuredly a thing of value and that it would be used to benefit the campaign. Therefore, accepting “oppo research,” which clearly seems to me to be a “thing of value.” from a foreign source of any kind, whether it is from a nation we consider an ally, an adversarial nation or a foreign non-governmental entity or individual, would be against the law.

Jonathan Chait and Juan Cole both react to the news by pointing out that he is essentially inviting foreign nations and sources to once again intervene in a Presidential election for his benefit, and says he’d welcome that support if it came about. David Frum, meanwhile, calls the President’s admission “astonishing”:

This confession carries heavy implications, starting with the question of whether Donald Trump Jr. lied to Congress when he denied telling his father in advance about the famous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, in which he believed a representative of the Russian government would be offering dirt on the Hillary Clinton campaign.

The Mueller report found that the Trump campaign desperately wished to collude with Russian intelligence—but concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone at the campaign actually had done so. But after three years and the special counsel’s investigation? Trump acknowledges that he would do it all again, if given a chance.

Will he be given a chance, whether by Russia or China or Saudi Arabia or Abu Dhabi or Israel or Pakistan—or for that matter any number of foreign non-state actors, legitimate and criminal, with intelligence-gathering capability?

(…)

Confessing a willingness to collaborate with foreign spies against his domestic political opponents is a hand-forcing move. The risks of proceeding are still there. But the risks of not proceeding? Trump just forced us all to confront them in the most aggressively public possible way.

As with many things Trump has done and said as President, these statements while shocking in their brazenness, are not surprising. At several points during the course of the campaign, Trump explicitly invited foreign sources such as Wikileaks and the Russian government to hack into American computer systems to get the emails of Hillary Clinton and other members of his campaign. At another point, he teased the release of such information just days before Wikileaks did just that, indicating quite strongly that he had advance information that such was coming (if he did it most likely came from former campaign adviser Roger Stone.) This continued throughout the campaign and into his Presidency where he attempted both the cover up the circumstances of the allegations against members of his campaign team and deny that they were improper even if they did happen.

Frum’s argument that this admission on Trump’s part is yet another piece in an argument that only impeachment would be sufficient to address what the President has done. Nonetheless, it seems clear that this will not be enough for Republicans other than the likes of Justin Amash stand up and speak out against him. Instead, they will sit back and do nothing, because the GOP has become little more than a party of Trump fanatics in MAGA hats, sycophants, sellouts, and cowards. In their minds, might makes right. There is no right or wrong, no rules that should not be broken if doing so is in their political interest, and nothing that the President can do that will shake their faith in him. This President is corrupt and amoral and there is simply no way at this point that any decent, principled, patriotic person of either party can defend him without being a hypocrite.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2016, Campaign 2020, China, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Law and the Courts, National Security, Politicians, Russia, Russia Investigation, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Liberal Capitalist says:

    His supporters said that we cannot understand his brilliance, as he is playing n-dimensional chess that we could not possibly understand his plans. maga.

    Now, after a few years, it’s obvious to most that he’s playing Hungry Hungry Hippos, and he wants all the marbles, no matter what. Laws be damned.

    Those who have pushed for the Unitary Executive Theory must be proud of their Frankenstein monster.

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  2. Jen says:

    This is beyond astonishing. Research–*any* research, let alone opposition research–would be considered an in-kind donation and yes, therefore illegal.

    The sycophants who support this wretch, particularly those in the U.S. Senate but also any random supporter, are contributing to the destruction of the office of the presidency. He belongs in prison.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    donald NO COLLUSION!!!! trump opens mouth and inserts foot. And the trumpaloons love it.

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    In Machiavelli’s “The Prince” (which is actually well worth reading), he discusses the consequences of someone inviting the ruler of another state in to help. From the point of view of the inviter he says, basically, don’t do it. But from the point of view of the invitee he says, “Go in, take over, and then immediately kill the inviter and all his closest associates, since you know beyond doubt that they are duplicitous liars who would sell out their principality for their own ambition.”

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  5. Kathy says:

    1) “It’s not spying. The Russians want information – I think I’d give it.”

    2) If it’s all well and good and holy and ok to receive opposition research from foreign sources, how much dirt do you think the Saudis, Russians, and scores of others have on Trump?

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  6. restless says:

    @Jen:

    I agree, but I’m having a difficult time distinguishing between the Trump campaign accepting information from foreign sources and the Clinton campaign hiring an agency that contracted with a foreign agent to collect information from foreign sources.

    Does the Clinton campaign *paying* make it OK? I presume that negates any issues with campaign donations, but what about the ethical implications of using foreign intelligence?

    What am I missing?

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  7. michael reynolds says:

    #TraitorTrump isn’t just a hashtag. He is not loyal to the United States. He should be standing against a wall with a blindfold and a last cigarette.

    Anyone still supporting him at this point is either catastrophically stupid or a traitor as well.

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  8. gVOR08 says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    Those who have pushed for the Unitary Executive Theory must be proud of their Frankenstein monster.

    And indeed Barr does seem proud.

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  9. wr says:

    @restless: “What am I missing?”

    Honestly? I don’t think you’re missing anything. I think you’re spinning a disingenuous line of bullshit cribbed from some right wing site intended to protect a man you know is a criminal and a traitor, but to whom you are devoted because he pisses off people you don’t like or some other equally juvenile reason.

    Or you’re a total idiot. But since, unlike so many of the Trumpies who post, you are capable of constructing and typing (or at least pasting) a sentence, I’m going to give you more credit than that.

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  10. drj says:

    @restless:

    What am I missing?

    Quite a lot.

    * There is no such thing as a free lunch. A foreign source will want something in return. Influence, for example.

    * Relatedly, foreign intel may be acquired in ways that are not legal. It’s called “spying” for a reason. I think we can agree it’s not OK to use foreign proxies to break US law?

    * Foreign intelligence services will have a hidden agenda. They will not just give any information, but only info that helps them to advance their goals.

    None of this applies to Steele. He ran a legit business in a friendly country and got paid.

    foreign sources

    FYI: The Guardian is a “foreign source.” My French cab driver could be a “foreign source.”

    Using foreign sources is obviously not the problem here. Being played by a foreign intelligence service, however, is.

    This is not hard.

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  11. gVOR08 says:

    Last night Maddow read the bit in the Mueller report where they say they could have filed charges over the Trump Tower meeting, but didn’t because they couldn’t prove Jr knew it was illegal and therefore couldn’t prove criminal intent. (We’ve always been told ignorance of the law is no excuse. At what income threshold does that become inoperative?)

    Looks to me like Trump is trying to continue to support a defense based on, we’re just too dumb to know any better.

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  12. Jen says:

    @restless: I’m guessing you are referring to Fusion GPS, and Christopher Steele.

    There is a difference. First and foremost, Fusion GPS is a U.S. company. They can do whatever opposition research they want to, including contracting with Steele. The difference is not whether it is paid for or just handed over, it is that it’s not being done at the behest of a foreign government or company.

    Second, the Clinton campaign didn’t hire Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie retained Fusion, on behalf of the DNC and Clinton’s campaign. Perkins Coie is a U.S. law firm.

    It might seem like a distinction without a difference, but it is in fact quite different to have a US firm doing opposition research that follows leads overseas versus having information handed directly to a federal campaign from a foreign source.

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  13. Slugger says:

    Why would a foreign nation try to help Mr. Trump? To make the US stronger? These questions answer themselves readily. Mr. Trump is clearly prepared to sell out the US for his personal advantage. BTW, the fact that other politicians would do the same does not excuse anything; it means that we citizens should redouble our diligence in keeping a close eye on these vultures.

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  14. gVOR08 says:

    @drj: Careful with the “foreign intelligence service” phrasing here. There is video of Barr being cagey about whether use of foreign information is OK and finally conceding it’s bad to use info from an intelligence service. I have no idea what he was dancing around.

    In the case of Russia everything is done by agents of oligarchs supporting Putin, making the definition of intelligence service pretty blurry. I imagine even the Norwegian intelligence agencies work through proxies, the Saudis and Israelis certainly do. So I guess in Barr’s view it’s OK as long as no one says, “I’m from the FSB and I’m here to help you.’

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  15. Zachriel says:

    @Jen: having information handed directly to a federal campaign from a foreign source.

    Specifically, from a foreign government. In the case of the Steele dossier, the sources were Russian individuals who had previously provided credible information that was *contrary* to the interests of the Russian government. Even then, the Steele dossier must be considered raw intelligence.

    Raw information is probably not considered a campaign contribution. However, a concerted effort by a foreign government to spy on your political opposition, then using this information to help your campaign is most definitely a campaign contribution. What Trump has done is to invite foreign governments to spy on his political opposition to help his campaign.

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  16. michael reynolds says:

    How far has Trump degraded the presidency? We’re now discussing whether it’s wrong for the President of the United States to invite hostile intelligence agencies to commit felonies in order to help him get re-elected.

    Gee. . . kinda sounds like a bad thing.

    Under American law if the FBI caught the spies Trump has invited to join his re-election effort, they’d go to federal prison, possibly for life. If Trump were anyone other than president he’d have been bodily ejected from office. He is a traitor. He belongs in a cell or a straitjacket.

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  17. drj says:

    @gVOR08:

    Barr is quite a piece of work, isn’t he?

    I didn’t realize he was that brazenly disingenuous.

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  18. Not the IT Dept. says:

    All right, that does it. No more *bleeping* around. Congress must immediately request that foreign governments provide any and all documentation relating to criminal activities of the Trump family and/or organization or any documentation relating to association with known criminals and organized crime.

    After all, if Donald says it’s okay, then it must be okay for everyone.

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  19. Jen says:

    @Zachriel:

    Raw information is probably not considered a campaign contribution.

    With you, but disagree completely with the above statement and I am fairly certain that the FEC would too. A donation is “anything of value” to the campaign. Raw information is, or at least could be, of value to a campaign. That is why it would be considered an “in-kind” donation.

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  20. Zachriel says:

    @Jen: A donation is “anything of value” to the campaign.

    If a cabdriver told Clinton he just dropped Trump off at his mistress’s house, that would probably not mean the cabdriver would have to report a campaign contribution, even though the information is a “thing of value”. It would be considered an incidental. If, however, the cabdriver were paid by operatives to surveil Trump to dig up dirt for political purposes, then it would be considered a campaign contribution.

    Where to draw the line is a somewhat of a gray area. However, if someone suspects the information is sourced to foreign actors, then it would behoove any American citizen to report it to the appropriate authorities.

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  21. Paul L. says:

    https://twitter.com/FederalSpyGuy/status/1139173433688899584

    its funny watching all the libtarded bluecheck “jurnos” twist and try to deflect the *FACTS* hillary clinton paid russians for dirt on trump, mark warner got busted trying to get russian dirt on trump and adam schiff was punked on the phone trying to get russian dirt on trump.

    I would accept dirt from a foreign government that would prove that Obama and Holder knew, approved and authorized the Fast and Furious program and IRS targeting of Tea party from the beginning.

    Jen, Trump should get a law firm to commission a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm to create the Gold dossier that proves.
    A) Obama and Holder knew, approved and authorized the Fast and Furious program and IRS targeting of Tea party from the beginning.
    B) Obama and Holder are gay.

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  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Of course you would. I said you would. I predicted long, long ago that you Trumpaloons would end up supporting treason. It was inevitable. You’d support human sacrifice. You’d support child rape. You are depraved cult members. You’re sick people. You, @Paul, are a moral black hole.

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  23. Bill says:

    @michael reynolds:

    He should be standing against a wall with a blindfold and a last cigarette.

    Be merciful, Michael. Let him have one last McDonald’s hamburger in place of the cigarette.

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  24. Jen says:

    @Zachriel:

    If a cabdriver told Clinton he just dropped Trump off at his mistress’s house, that would probably not mean the cabdriver would have to report a campaign contribution, even though the information is a “thing of value”.

    I understand what you are getting at here, truly. One instance of one bit of information, particularly unverified, might not be required to be reported (and it would be reported by the campaign as the recipient of the in-kind donation). However, the FEC is pretty picky about this sort of thing (I have a campaign background and have had to run some of these circles with regulators).

    It’s one thing to have a cab driver offer up a piece of random and unrequested information. What Trump is suggesting would require more of a process. The foreign entity would have to contact someone in the campaign, suggesting they had information. The campaign would then set up a meeting/drop-off point/dead drop in the park, whatever, to receive said information.

    This sets up two possible problems for the campaign. One, actively following that lead, and two, receiving the information from a foreign source. Even if what is received is raw information, if it has value (and there is a threshold that the FEC follows for “de minimis” contributions less than $200), it needs to be reported as an in-kind contribution if it comes from an American. Link. If it comes from a foreign source, it’s illegal, full stop.

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  25. Paul L. says:

    @michael reynolds:
    So I am as just bad as Fusion GPS, Perkins Cole and Marc Elias the general counsel for Kamala Harris’s 2020 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.
    Keep Projecting. Embarrassing Obama is Treason.
    https://twitter.com/Integralmathyt/status/1139186447980802050

    I’m very curious about the faux outrage of the half-second. Is the proposition that information should be rejected because it comes from a foreign power? This reminds me of the theatrics when one country ‘learns’ that its allies spy on it.
    #ImpeachTrumpNow
    Every country collects information on friends and foes. It’s usually considered to be acting responsibly. But if the new way of running a country is to reject foreign intel because it’s foreign, I guess Congress had better repeal the national security act of 1947 (as amended),

    As far as the complaint about the President saying he maybe would inform the FBI of such information if he thought something was amiss, what’s the problem? The national intelligence program is designed to collect information and then to give it to the President.

    And, indeed, the relevant law explicitly mandates that these various agencies act pursuant to the control, authority and direction of the President to obtain information to give to the President so that he can use it to make such decisions as he thinks appropriate.

    The notion that a President who receives information has some kind of obligation to phone up his subordinates to tell them what it is so that they in the very next sentence inform the President of what the President just told them is quite inefficient. And idiotic.

    Welcome to America. We have a Constitution which vests executive power in exactly one person at a time. The chief executive does not report to department heads, officers or employees of the United States; they all answer to him.

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  26. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Zachriel:

    would not mean the cabdriver would have to report a campaign contribution,

    I think that you “a bit confused”, it’s not the cab driver who reports…. it’s the campaign that has reporting requirements. If the campaign knew that this cab driver was actually a FSB agent who drives cab as a second job (or a cover), you can bet your life that the campaign would be OBLIGATED to report not only to FEC but also to the FBI.

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  27. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul L.:
    Regurgitating lies won’t help you, @Paul. No one here buys them. Those are lies told to you, for your benefit, because the people lying to you know you’re a dim loser who’ll swallow any lie so long as it feeds your prejudices. But we aren’t you, @Paul. We live over here in reality not in the open sewer that is your mind.

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  28. drj says:

    B) Obama and Holder are gay.

    @Paul L. is not a well man.

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  29. restless says:

    @Jen:

    I expected I’d get blow-back – I’m not as good with the words as the rest of you. Plus, iPhone.

    Thank you, Jen, Fusion GPS was what I was referring to. And thank you and drj for providing some substantive points. I get that the DNC hiring the firm that hires Fusion GPS that contracts with Steele is legal – but the part I was concerned with was that Steele’s contacts could fall under the ‘foreign intelligence obtained by spying’ definition.

    Trump is a horror, but I don’t want to defend my side if they’re doing the same thing.

    For the record, I have always voted for the Democratic presidential candidate, and only voted for the occasional local Republican, and none since Prop 187 (I’m in California).

    However, I work with with people who use One America News Network as their only source of news, and hear a lot of Paul L.-style arguments. I won’t call my co-workers names, but I would like to provide a more thoughtful and factual point of view.

    I keep hoping that pointing out the spin and distortion will slowly shift their opinions….

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  30. DrDaveT says:

    Fun fact: failing to report any interaction with foreign nationals who express an interest in national security topics or US government actions* is grounds for having your security clearance revoked.

    Can we get the Defense Security Service to go do that, please?

    *Much less asserting that you won’t report them in the future, either…

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  31. drj says:

    @restless:

    Hey,

    My apologies if I came across a bit harsh.

    Too much exposure to trolls can do that to a person.

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  32. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    You poor dear…professional help is available.

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  33. Teve says:

    @Paul L.:

    B) Obama and Holder are gay.

    oh bless your heart. 😛 😛 😛

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  34. Paul L. says:

    I left out a step.

    Trump should get a law firm to commission a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm [to hire a foreign agent] to create the Gold dossier that proves Obama lied.

    We regret the error.

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  35. Blue Galangal says:

    @Paul L.:

    B) Obama and Holder are gay.

    What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

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  36. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    This is beyond astonishing. Research–*any* research, let alone opposition research–would be considered an in-kind donation and yes, therefore illegal.

    I agree, but I’m having a difficult time distinguishing between the Trump campaign accepting information from foreign sources and the Clinton campaign hiring an agency that contracted with a foreign agent to collect information from foreign sources.

    Boom. Expect this topic to come back for another try. Yes, whatever they say will be erroneous, shady, and duplicitous, but it will also resonate in the minds of “independent *schwing* voters” and will resonate as “see, both side really do ‘do it.'”

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  37. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    What did it say when you played the White Album backwards? Oh yeah…that’s right…
    Paul is dumb

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  38. restless says:

    @drj:

    No worries. I’ve followed OTB since the late 2000s, but rarely post since, as I’ve demonstrated, wording is hard. I appreciated the clear points you and Jen have made, and will try to use them.

    Sadly, I seem to have given Paul L. a new talking point.

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  39. MarkedMan says:

    @restless: Apologies for not chiming in on your behalf before. I thought you were raising a legitimate question, and I think some of the answers were helpful to me.

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  40. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @gVOR08: The only principle that works in looking at Trump misdeeds is, “Ignorance of reality is no excuse.”

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  41. MarkedMan says:

    @restless:

    Sadly, I seem to have given Paul L. a new talking point

    I make it a point never to hold back because I might give a mindless cult member a talking point. They are going to talk, and talk mindlessly no matter what you do. Think of their minds as a churning waste treatment plant, endlessly mulching in whatever happens to float down the sewer and using it to power a continuous and overwhelming odor of decay.

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  42. Teve says:

    You guys think Paul l is deluded now, just wait til he’s immersed in deepfakes all day long. He won’t just suspect Obama is on the DL, he’ll be watching videos of a shirtless Barack twerking on a Pride float.

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  43. Teve says:
  44. Gustopher says:

    At least Trumpy told the truth for once.

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  45. the Q says:

    Paul L, the problem with your comment is that Trump and Barr BOTH objected to the very same thing that Trump last night said he wouldn’t have a problem with – viz. receiving from a foreign source “oppo” research about a political opponent.

    You should shut the phuck up about Fusion GPS and the Clinton’s use of it when Trump just said HE WOULD DO THE SAME THING.

    So you can’t accuse Hillary of something nefarious when Trump, your hero, declares that he would do the same thing vis-a-vis info from a foreign entity.

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  46. Jen says:

    @restless: NPR has a Fact Check on this that organizes things nicely: FACT CHECK: Foreign Interference And ‘Opposition Research’ Are Not The Same

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  47. Paul L. says:

    @Jen: @the Q:
    WhatAboutism. I’ll shutup about the Steele Dossier when it can be proven Trump did the same.

    HE WOULD DO THE SAME THING.

    So you have heard that there is a Gold Dossier? Or does it come out when someone has won the Democrat primary?

    The NRA “fact check” overlooks one thing.
    What if the “opposition research” comes from a foreign National or Government?
    Just like the TANG memos defense that they have never been proven to by forgeries.

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  48. restless says:

    @Jen:

    Thank you!

    Any clue what Paul L. is going on about?

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  49. the Q says:

    Paul, you colossal dipschite….we don’t need to prove anything about Trump doing the same thing…he just said last night that he WOULDN’T HAVE A PROBLEM TAKING “OPPO” DIRT FROM A FOREIGN ENTITY….what part of that don’t you understand? He admitted that he would have done the same thing as you purport that HRC did….geez you put the nut in wingnut

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  50. Jen says:

    @restless: Sometimes, it’s best not to try. I made the mistake of Googling “Gold dossier” to try and figure it out, and all of the results reference the Steele dossier and one of its more infamous allegations. He also conflated “NPR” and “NRA” and doesn’t seem to get that if the “opposition research” comes directly from a foreign government it is illegal to accept it.

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  51. Paul L. says:

    @Jen:
    My “Gold Dossier” is a play on the Steele Dossier using Trump’s favorite metal.

    I should have used Golde instead.

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  52. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Paul L.: Thank you for proving my point, Paul. I guess this means I owe you one. Sadly, abysses are no better at honoring obligations than the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C.

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  53. Neil J Hudelson says:

    DFTFT.

    Especially in this case. No lurkers are reading Paul’s inanity and thinking “he raises some good points.” And if they are, do you think you’re going to convince them otherwise?

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  54. Scott F. says:

    Morons like Paul L. should be ignored as Neil suggests. But I’d just like to point out that Senator Lindsey Graham is also saying “What about the Steele Dossier?” today. That is a federally elected troll with a continuous invitation to the TV talk shows. He sadly can’t be ignored .

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  55. Gustopher says:

    @Jen:

    With you, but disagree completely with the above statement and I am fairly certain that the FEC would too. A donation is “anything of value” to the campaign. Raw information is, or at least could be, of value to a campaign. That is why it would be considered an “in-kind” donation.

    So, the problem is that Trump didn’t pay for the services of the Russian state actors offering assistance?

    That’s one of the problems, sure, but I’m not sure it is the major problem. A major presidential candidate aligned himself with a hostile foreign power.

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  56. Jen says:

    @Gustopher:

    So, the problem is that Trump didn’t pay for the services of the Russian state actors offering assistance?

    No, it has nothing to do with payment. Donations can be money, or things that are donated that have a value. Those are called “in-kind” donations. I’ve had to chase down the rental or approximate value of all kinds of things to disclose on FEC reports. If someone donates the use of a Bouncy House and a cotton candy machine that will be at a candidate’s fundraiser, those are things of value and you have to report the dollar amount of what it would have cost you to rent those items for the time you had them in use at the event. In-kind donations count against the total contribution limits currently in place.

    The problem here is that the campaign received something of value from a foreign entity. They aren’t allowed to do that, period, irrespective of whether they disclose it or not.

    It doesn’t have to be a foreign government, by the way. It is illegal to receive federal campaign support of any kind from someone who is not American. Remember the weird story from the campaign (one of many) where a bunch of legislators in foreign countries received email solicitations from the Trump campaign, asking for money? I, and others, pointed out then that it was probably not even legal for the campaign to solicit money from foreigners, because they can’t receive money from them.

    The loophole that everyone should be aware of by now are all of these 501 (c)4 organizations that are not required to disclose their donors. That’s how the Russians were able to funnel loads of cash into the NRA for use to support Trump.

    And, the FEC Chair did release a short, terse, and absolutely clear statement about this issue last evening.

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  57. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Scott F.: Perhaps Lindsey has dossiers on the brain now because he’s afraid he may show up somewhere in some yet-to-be-disclosed dossier.

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  58. al Ameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Anyone still supporting him at this point is either catastrophically stupid or a traitor as well.

    I’ll take ‘catastrophically stupid’ for $800, Alex.

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  59. Zachriel says:
  60. Zachriel says:

    @Gustopher: So, the problem is that Trump didn’t pay for the services of the Russian state actors offering assistance?

    That’s the legal issue. If you accept help, you have to pay for it, and disclose it. If you couldn’t pay for services from foreign entities, then you couldn’t buy MAGA hats from China. That’s one reason why the Steele dossier was legal, even though Steele is a foreign national. (Notably, Steele forwarded the information to U.S. legal authorities.)

    A cabdriver giving you a simple tip about an opponent’s mistress would probably not be a reportable campaign contribution, even if the tip could swing the election, and might be extremely valuable, because the cost of generating the tip was negligible. A cabdriver working for Russian intelligence conveying the results of their spying would be an illegal campaign contribution, not only because it was an unpaid foreign source, but because it can be assigned a value; in this case, the cost of deploying the spies, and overhead. Generally, any time information is collected, then there is an associated cost; e.g. mailing lists, polling data, dossiers, etc.

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  61. Lee Florack says:

    @Zachriel:

    The chair of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub, wrote – which she prefaced with, “I would not have thought that I needed to say this.” Then she continued: “Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for anyone to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept. Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginning of our nation. Our founding fathers sounded the alarm about ‘foreign Interference, Intrigue, and Influence’.
    They knew when foreign governments seek to influence American politics, it is always to advance their interests, not America’s. Anyone who solicits or accepts foreign assistance risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation. Any political campaign that receives an offer of a prohibited donation from a foreign source should report that offer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

    Note: Yes, my last name is Florack. A sometimes poster, Eric Florack is my younger brother. We disagree about just about everything political.

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