‘Russia, If You’re Listening…’
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
After WikiLeaks released a trove of Clinton’s emails weeks before the 2016 election, Trump loudly applauded the organization for publishing the damaging information against Clinton. He praised the organization more than 140 times, saying at one rally, “We love Wikileaks!”
Along with Trump’s personal request for foreign help in the election and celebration of WikiLeaks, his campaign sent fundraising emails to dozens of politicians in countries including Scotland, Canada, Iceland and Australia. Campaign finance watchdogs filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Trump’s campaign violated federal election law that prohibits soliciting contributions from foreign nationals.
Trump has faced few political consequences for his requests for a hostile foreign power to meddle in the U.S. election, despite the special counsel’s investigation discovering numerous contacts between Trump associates and WikiLeaks or Kremlin-linked Russian nationals.
No Consequences, And No Changed Behavior
“There’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘We have information on your opponent.’ Oh, I think I’d want to hear it,” Trump told ABC News.
Republicans, Democrats and the Federal Election Commission harshly criticized Trump for his comments during the interview, emphasizing that accepting or soliciting anything of value from foreign nationals related to a U.S. election would be breaking the law.
But just over a month later, on July 25, Trump asked Ukraine’s President Zelensky cooperate with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. As he spoke with Zelensky, Trump was also holding up the delivery of $250 in military aid to Ukraine.
This time, it appears that Trump’s pursuit of foreign interference for personal gain was too egregious for officials and lawmakers to ignore. The call prompted a whistleblower complaint, released on Thursday, that has moved Democrats to call for impeachment, and brought allegations that the White House was engaged in a cover-up. Trump, however, has denied any wrongdoing and described his call with Zelensky as “perfect.”
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