DISCLAIMER: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.
After special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, President Donald Trump was asked during an ABC News interview if he would accept dirt from a foreign government on his 2020 Democratic opponents.
Here’s what Trump said: “I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening” during an interview with George Stephanopoulos at the White House.
“I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI,” Trump said.
Stephanopoulos responded, “The FBI director said that is what should happen,” referring to FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying before Congress last month that the Bureau would want to know about any election meddling by foreign governments or agents.
“The FBI director is wrong,” said Trump.
Remember the context here is important:
U.S. intelligence agencies in January 2017 concluded “with high confidence” that the Russian government interfered in the election by hacking into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the personal Gmail account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and forwarding their contents to WikiLeaks.
Russia stole this information and offered it to the Trump campaign.
“If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it,” Trump said.
Norway? Really? Do you see the effort he is going through to take this out of context? This is about Russia and China, not Norway. If anyone should know that the focus is on Russia, again, in the 2020 elections, it’s Trump because of the two-year investigation of Russian meddling by Mueller, which was just recently concluded.
Stephanopoulos asked Trump if he didn’t think that a foreign government offering up information on an election opponent might not be inference (especially given Mueller, etc.).
“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump replied.
Stolen information from Russia, not Norway, and you’d be OK with taking it a second time?
Trump green-lights foreign interference
If you’re Russia, and you’re wondering, hey, should we monkey-wrench the U.S. elections again… well, why wouldn’t you. Wasn’t that just an open invitation to Russia and China from POTUS?
If you’re an elected official or running for office, you’ve got to be thinking: I wonder if Russia or China is trying to hack into my email account or worse, knowing the president thinks it’s OK?
Trump can’t say, ‘No, I would not accept information or research from a foreign government on any of my political opponents. Not this time; I’ve learned my lesson and I’m calling the FBI. Now.”
He can’t say it because if he did, then that would cast a long shadow over his 2016 campaign, essentially delegitimatizing it.
Not a hint, not a whiff of warning from Trump to foreign governments over election meddling. No deterrent. No signal of strength. This is reckless beyond belief.
But I do have to give the political right some credit on this issue.
“He opened himself wide to attacks,” said “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade, adding that Trump knows if a foreign government like Russia or China handed over such information, they would expect something in return.
“The president should say, ‘Keep it,’ because I don’t want to owe China or Russia something in return,” said Kilmeade.
What if the election had turned out differently, and President Hillary Clinton had made the same statement about foreign meddling in U.S. elections?
On accepting dirt from a foreign government on a political opponent, Clinton says, “I’d take it. You don’t call the FBI. The FBI director is wrong.”
Are you telling me there would not be outrage?
Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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