On the one hand, it wasn’t at all surprising for President Donald Trump to say on Wednesday that he sees nothing wrong with foreign governments offering opposition research to American political campaigns — it’s completely consistent with his actions and those of his associates in 2016. On the other, we should certainly still be shocked to hear Trump make these comments, especially when he admitted to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he would readily accept offers of election help from other countries.
He also denied that his campaign should have informed the FBI when Russia reached out in 2016 with offers of dirt on Hillary Clinton — and said current FBI Director Christopher Wray was “wrong” to say that any foreign overtures to campaigns should be reported to the bureau.
Legal and national security experts were aghast at the comments.
“This is despicable,” said former Director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub when he learned of Trump’s comments.
“We’ve gone from ‘it was about adoptions,’ to ‘no collusion,’ to ‘collusion is just fine,’” said former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah. “Republicans have sanctioned this by their silence. And Democrats will be enablers if they don’t take more drastic action now.”
“Collusion is good, according to Trump,” said Harry Sandick, also a former federal prosecutor.
“Trump demonstrates how you can have collusion without a conspiracy: Prosecutors might not have enough evidence to prove taking ‘oppo research’ from a hostile foreign power is a full blown conspiracy, but if they want you to win & you take the goods, it sure sounds like collusion?” said Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Alabama.
Others shared similar views:
If this isn’t “collusion” then what exactly would collusion be? https://t.co/JXbNaKBixO
— Elie Honig (@eliehonig) June 12, 2019
IMAGE: Pedestrians cross the street behind a billboard showing a picture of US president-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Danilovgrad, Montenegro, November 16. 2016. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic