Speed Reads

Wrecking Ball

Trump's comments about accepting foreign help reportedly wrecked 2 years of FBI work

Three months after President Trump appointed Christopher Wray as FBI director, Wray told Congress he'd set up a "foreign influence" task force, bringing together dozens of counterintelligence, counterterrorism, and cyber officials to work with FBI field offices, other federal law enforcement agencies, state and local governments, and social media companies to prevent the type of election interference Russia perpetrated in 2016. "Make no mistake — the scope of this foreign influence threat is both broad and deep," he told Congress in August 2017.

In his Wednesday night interview with ABC News, "Trump undercut the whole operation in a matter of seconds," Politico reports. Trump's stated willingness to accept dirt on domestic rivals from foreign governments has "undone months of work, essentially inviting foreign spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns and demoralizing the agents trying to stop them."

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub reminded America — and probably one American in particular — on Thursday night that "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," including "foreign assistance." Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano made a similar point on Thursday afternoon. If Trump did what he proposed on ABC News, "he would be committing a felony," he told anchor Shepard Smith, and legally there's "no wiggle room with respect to dirt, with respect to opposition research."

"The president of the United States of America is prepared to commit a felony to get re-elected — that was my [first] reaction, and it was not a happy one," Napolitano said. FBI officials probably agree. "It has to be demoralizing to some extent and confusing and, let's face it, unprecedented, to have a commander in chief who has such a lack of fundamental understanding about the work the Justice Department and intelligence community do in this area," Greg Brower, Wray's former top FBI congressional liaison, told Politico.