Trump (Again) Invites Foreign Election Interference

In the middle of the 2016 campaign, Don Trump Jr. took a meeting at Trump Tower with Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, after being promised damaging information on his father's opponent, Hillary Clinton. One month later, Donald Trump [video autoplays] invited the Russians to hack the U.S. government, saying: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

It was the first time, but not the last, that Trump openly invited foreign interference in U.S. elections.

Yesterday, during an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Trump not only invited foreign actors to interfere in our elections, but also said that the FBI director is wrong for stating that the FBI should be contacted in the event that a foreign actor tries to interfere.

Stephanopoulos: Your son, Don Jr., is up before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, and, again, he was not charged with anything. In retrospect, though—

Trump: By the way, not only wasn't he charged, if you read it, with all of the horrible fake news— I mean, I was reading that my son was gonna go to jail — this is a good young man — that he was gonna go to jail. [edit] And then the report comes out, and they didn't even say, they hardly even talked about him.

Stephanopoulos: Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that email?

Trump: Okay, let's put yourself in a position: You're a congressman. Somebody comes up and says, "Hey, I have information on your opponent." Do you call the FBI?

Stephanopoulos: If it's coming from Russia you do!

Trump: I'll tell you what — I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office; you do whatever you—

Stephanopoulos: Al Gore got a stolen briefing book. He called the FBI.

Trump: Well, that's different, a stolen briefing book! This isn't a stolen— This is somebody that said, "We have information on your opponent." Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn't work that way.

Stephanopoulos: The FBI director says that's what should happen.

Trump: The FBI director is wrong. [edit]

Stephanopoulos: Your campaign this time around — if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it, 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.

Stephanopoulos: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

Trump: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI. If I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right? They come up with oppo research— "Oh, let's call the FBI." [mimes holding a phone handset to his ear] The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it. But you and talk honestly to congressmen — they all do it; they always have. And that's the way it is. It's called oppo research.
Accepting information from a foreign actor, information which may be true or may be falsified with a nefarious agenda, is categorically not oppo research.

By conflating accepting foreign materials with oppo research, and saying that everyone in Congress does it, Trump is simultaneously trying to normalize and minimize the gravity of foreign election interference and trying to convey that the entire system is already corrupt, anyway, so his corruption is just a drop in the bucket.

But neither of these things are true. Not every member of Congress, not even the Republicans, unquestioningly accepts materials from foreign actors to use against their opponents, presumes the information to be accurate, and doesn't think it's worth mentioning to U.S. intelligence services. And doing so is both highly unethical (if not illegal) and not normal.

Trump wants us to believe that it's no big deal for the sitting U.S. president to collude with foreign actors to retain power.

He is asserting that he knows the law better than the director of the FBI and that decades of intelligence precedent and law don't matter.

He is publicly inviting foreign actors to use him as the conduit for undermining the integrity of our election.

And not even for the first time.

That alone should be enough to underline the urgency of impeachment.

Because this isn't happening in a vacuum. It's happening within the context of his first election having been aided by foreign interference care of a country with whom he has continued to collude right out in the open.

It's happening in the context of Russia getting the message loud and clear.

It's happening in the context of a soft coup.

All the great patriots of the Republican Party are nowhere to be found — unless, of course, it's in front of the nearest microphone to defend Donald Trump.

So the Democrats need to stop being surprised that Trump would publicly invite foreign interference to help him retain power in 2020 and start doing the jobs we elected them to do.

Impeach him. Now.

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