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A Progressive Perspective: Accepting Dirt from Foreign Nations is Unpatriotic and Illegal

Back in January, I wrote that “As we approach the 2020 election, I expect to see Donald Trump embrace an increasingly racist xenophobic and economic nationalistic populist message … I look for President Trump to turn-up and increasingly target his rhetoric towards our nation’s aging white population.”

That’s exactly what President Trump did with his blatantly “racist’ comments about the squad of four minority freshmen Democratic Congresswoman, three of whom are American-born. Trump knew where the representatives were born when he made the comment that they should “go back where they came from…. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” These comments were directed at his base, many of whom feel the American dream is vanishing for them and their offspring and who see dramatically changing demographics as one of the causes of their duress.

Reinforcing his base was also at the root of the president’s announcement, with much fanfare, that he is launching a beefing-up effort to round up thousands of undocumented immigrants. The much-ballyhooed raids would target individuals who had received final deportation notices after they were released from custody. Had you wanted to maximize the undocumented migrants to be caught, you would not have eliminated the element of surprise by announcing the raids in advance. The only way to get two bites of the apple is to publicize the enforcement effort in advance and then announce it again when individuals are taken into custody for deportation.

Similarly, appealing to the base was the reason the Trump administration is seeking changes to the asylum laws and trying, through any means, to include a citizenship question in the census. He is playing to his bases’ fears and anxieties that immigrant’s needs are prioritized over theirs.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Donald Trump is a xenophobic racist. Sadly, this is probably not going to be the reason he is defeated in 2020. I believe one way to erode the President’s support among his base is to make the case that his expressed willingness to accept information from a foreign country on his opponent in the 2020 race is blatantly unpatriotic and illegal.

Instead of attempting to impeach the President, I would like to see the Democrats focus attention on the fact that it is illegal for any candidate for public office, including the President, to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value, including opposition research, from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.

They should point out that even Ellen Weintraub, Trump’s appointment to head the Federal Election Commission, has said, “Let me make something 100 percent clear to the American public and anyone running for public office. It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.”

Yet, after years of denying that Russia helped him win office in 2016, this is what the President said when asked by ABC News what he would do if a country such as Russia or China offered him information: “I think I’d want to listen to it … there’s nothing wrong with listening.” Later, the President was asked specifically whether he would take opposition research if it were offered by another government. He responded, “It’s not interference, they have information…. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong,” Trump added.

Trump then said, “But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it.”

It’s shocking to me that the President would be as reckless as to put himself in the position of being indebted to a foreign power by accepting opposition research they provide to him. This is clearly an attempt by a foreign government to interfere in our election and should be brought to the immediate attention of the FBI (Christopher Wray the head of the FBI concurs with this).

The President has spent the last two years pronouncing up and down that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia in spite of the Mueller report detailing extensive contact between the campaign and the Russians. The President claimed total vindication when the Mueller report found that there was not enough evidence to conclude that there was a criminal conspiracy. However, it’s now clear from his own words that the President is OK working cooperatively with a foreign power against his opponent.

In testimony to Congress, Robert Muller unequivocally warned that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election and their aim is to do it again – “they’re doing it as we sit here.”

Thus, while there may not have been collusion in 2016, Trump is arguing that collusion is fine and legal in 2020. It’s not fine to aid and abet those who would seek to undermine our democracy. We need to send a clear message to President Trump that cavorting with foreign adversaries’ intent on impacting our elections is unpatriotic and will not be tolerated by the American people.