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Why not take political dirt from a foreign government? So many reasons


It sounds almost reasonable coming out of President Donald Trump’s mouth.

Sure, he’d take dirt on an opponent from a foreign government, he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview that left lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle gobsmacked. Who wouldn’t?
But as both a legal and a practical matter, it is not reasonable. Stephen Vladeck, a CNN legal analyst and national security expert at the University of Texas School of Law, came up, very quickly, with a short list of issues.
The top-level points are his and the explanations underneath are from me.
‘It’s illegal’
It’s a crime under federal election law for a campaign to knowingly solicit or accept items of value from foreign nationals. In this case, dirt on an opponent could qualify as something of value.

‘It opens the President up to blackmail’


Assuming the dirt is given and the public or the FBI isn’t told, the politician taking the dirt would have a secret with a foreign government that could be held over them. Trump knows something about trying to keep things quiet.
According to his now-imprisoned former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, Trump OK’d and orchestrated payments to silence women who said they had affairs with him. Cohen admitted that the payments, meant to influence the election, broke federal election law. Trump has denied having affairs with the women.

‘It openly invites foreign governments to do something that we spend billions of

dollars trying to prevent’


The entire national security apparatus — composed of Trump appointees — has warned of foreign interference in US elections and the US has been working to counteract it. Russians spread fake news on social media to frustrate Democrats. They hacked Democratic emails in 2016. Trump said in the ABC interview that he was OK with “oppo research,” but how would he know how a foreign government got the oppo research? Read more