NY-22 Minute: Brindisi Reacts to POTUS Interview; Wouldn't Accept Foreign Opposition Research, Would Notify FBI By Luke Perry
Yesterday evening President Trump stated his willingness to accept opposition research from foreign countries. “There is nothing wrong with listening,” Trump stated. “It’s not interference. They have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI.”
Trump said “the FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it” and “when you go and talk, honestly, to Congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is.”
Members of Congress “pushed back strenuously” on Trump’s claims, particularly that “accepting ‘dirt’ on political opponents from foreign sources is routine.”
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers displayed “a new sense of exasperation.” Speaker Pelosi said “the president gave us evidence once again he does not know right from wrong,” which is “a very sad thing.” Pelosi believes everybody “should be totally appalled” because these comments are “so against any sense of decency.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer echoed these sentiments, describing the remarks as “shocking” and “disgraceful.”
Several Republicans also expressed concern. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said “the law is pretty clear. You can’t take anything of value from a foreign government.” Meeting with foreign governments about one’s campaign is “not a good idea.”
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) was “surprised” Trump didn’t say “he would immediately turn it (foreign opposition research) over to FBI or DOJ.” That would be the “natural” thing to do. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said that accepting work from a foreign government to influence an American election is “wrong” and “strikes at the heart of our democracy.”
When asked for his reaction, Representative Brindisi provided the following statement:
“I would never accept opposition research from a foreign government. If presented with research from a foreign government, I would immediately contact the FBI. As Americans we should be vigilant and sensitive to any foreign government trying to meddle in our elections.”
Brindisi has pledged to speak out when President Trump was “doing something to harm our community,” state or country, while opposing impeachment, and instead focusing on preventing foreign countries from being able to interfere in future elections.
Legal scrutiny of the president has not been a “high priority” for Brindisi, generating some controversy among his more liberal supporters. Brindisi has sought to focus on local issues he believes people care more about.
American law seeks “to prevent just such a situation as Trump describes.” Foreign nationals are prohibited from contributing money “or things of value” to campaigns for national, state, or local elections. Americans are prohibited from soliciting these things.
If President Trump accepts foreign opposition research moving forward, and the information proved valuable, that may “very likely be a violation of U.S. law” now that he has expressed interest beforehand.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Professor of Government at Utica College