President Trump set off a hornets’ nest of activity with his claim that getting dirt on political opponents from foreigners is not only okay, but rather normal practice. In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, the President indicated that he would most surely want to see what was being offered.
Criticism of the remark came from both Democrats and Republicans in one of the first truly bipartisan reactions we have seen in Washington in the past couple years. The left-wing news media – with their highly partisan panels of parroting pundits pounced with a vengeance. With this comment, the left-leaners were convinced that THIS TIME they had Trump on the ropes – impeachment would be inevitable and eventual imprisonment possible.
In a later “clarification,” Trump said he would most certainly inform the FBI is the information or transaction was illegal. He certainly did not leave that impression in the initial interview. – it did put both sides back to their original positions regarding Trump.
Critics continued to claim that Trump was encouraging criminal activity, but the issue is more nuanced than Trump OR his critics are willing to admit. While the anti-Trump folks say the law is clear – receiving something of value to a campaign from a foreign government or individual is … illegal. Really? Did you know that it is perfectly legal for foreign individuals to work on American political campaigns? That is “something of value.”
Did you know that foreign entities can legally lobby on issues that may reflect a candidate’s position? Heads-of-state come to Washington all the time to do just that. Remember when Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu came to Washington to address Congress in opposition to President Obama’s policies? Oh … and it works both ways. Didn’t Obama’s political advisors travel to Tel Aviv to work for Netanyahu’s opponent?
It is not easy to discuss any issue when both sides make everything a matter of black and white for political purposes – and when most of these issues are in the deserted grey middle ground.
It is, however, another example of Trump handing the #NeverTrump Resistance Movement an opportunity to bash him – which they will do with justification or not. And unfortunately for Trump, he is prone to say enough outrageous or offensive things, that the left can remain on perma-criticism.
The Democrat and media hysterics have pounced on this issue to fan the flames of impeachment. These are the folks who would declare it a constitutional crisis if Trump forgot to brush his teeth in the morning. This is the umpteenth time they have spun the news to argue that Trump needs to be impeached. Their’s is a conflated crescendo of fact, interpretation (sometimes misinterpretation) and political propaganda with one purpose in mind – getting Trump out of the White House in 2020 or sooner.
In these times of extreme political separation, I am reminded of a political truth I learned many years ago. Nothing is ever as good as proponents claim – and nothing is ever as bad as opponents warn. What those in power point to with pride, the political opposition views with alarm. We are seeing that today in the extreme –maladroit statements by Trump getting Chicken Little responses from his adversaries on the left.
As good Americans, we should all agree that we do not want foreign governments strategically meddling in our elections. In that regard, federal candidates are not allowed to accept campaign contributions from foreign governments or foreign citizens. Information, however, is not so clear cut.
The anti-Trump media has gone headlong into accusing the Trump campaign of criminally colluding with Russia – and continue to do so, even after Mueller clearly declared that they had not done so. Not only did Mueller report that no American … not one … criminally colluded with Russia, no one got indicted on that charge – and that is determinant in the American system of justice.
We really need to ponder that last point. It is generally believed that a sitting President cannot be indicted, but that does not apply to anyone else. So, why, pray tell, has no one been indicted by Mueller for criminally colluding with Russia, witness tampering and obstruction of justice? The answer is obvious and simple. Mueller did not find sufficient evidence that anyone associated with Trump committed any of those crimes.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort gave polling data to a Russian associate. No crime, according to Mueller. Donald Trump, Jr. met wit a Russian lawyer in the hope of getting some dirt on Hillary Clinton. No crime there, according to Mueller, for two reasons. They could not establish that Donald Trump, Jr. or Jared Kushner knew of the meeting as a potential violation of election laws AND any offer make was not accepted.
While one can be critical of Trump’s belief – or confusion — that he can take information from foreign sources, it may not be illegal. The best example is the Clinton campaign. They actually paid to have a foreign operative in England obtain dirt on Trump from sources in Russia. If there was ever a prima facie case of criminal collusion, that would be it. AND the information obtained was fake. Everything said about Trump and getting opposition research from foreign sources pales against the story behind the phony dossier.
There is another facet to the story of foreign meddling that seems to have escaped media attention.
Virtually every day, the American news agencies take information from foreign sources – and they use that information to influence American elections. How many times have we read about unnamed sources in foreign nations who express their disdain for Trump. They claim he is hurting alliances or helping adversaries. Reporters rely on foreign “unnamed sources” to reveal what Trump said, may have said or did not say in private meetings. They report that the heads-of-state of other nations to not trust Trump.
This information is then reported (spun) to the American public in a way that is politically damaging to the President and his campaign for re-election. In other words, the #NeverTrump media is using information from foreign sources to exert partisan political influence over our elections. And do not try to tell me that a significant portion of our so-call free press is not working politically on behalf of left-wing Democrats.
Perhaps the reason Trump occasionally says something outrageous is because he knows it gets his uncompromised critics going off on a hysterical rant that is as – or ever more – outrageous than his comments. They just cannot resist the bait.
So, there ‘tis.