Trump successfully baits his foes with comments to Stephanopoulos on foreign information on opponents
In classic Trumpian maneuver, President Trump yesterday chummed the waters of the House Democratic Caucus with raw meat the impeachment-crazed radicals driving Nancy Pelosi — who really doesn't want to talk about impeachment — to distraction. He also laid the groundwork for the coming prosecutions on the Russia Hoax.
In a clip that already has been endlessly run on every news channel, he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he would not necessarily turn down information on his opponent from a foreign source or call in the FBI.
YouTube screen grab.
Responding to a question from Stephanopoulos about his son Donald Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, the POTUS let fly:
As summarized by Politico:
[T]he president pushed back when asked whether a candidate should report information on an opponent if it came from a foreign agent, and denied that accepting the information counted as election interference.
"It's not an interference, they have information — I think I'd take it," Trump said. "If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong."
"It's called oppo research," he added.
Stephanopoulos pointed out that FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that a candidate should offer that kind of information to the agency, but Trump flatly rebuffed the notion: "The FBI director is wrong."
"Give me a break," Trump said, scoffing. "Life doesn't work that way."
He got exactly what he wanted from the haters:
It is shocking to hear the President say outright that he is willing to put himself indebt to a foreign power... not to mention the foreign interference in an American election part. https://t.co/xlQoELsTif— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) June 12, 2019
Republicans and Democrats should both speak out - loudly and strongly - against this.— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) June 13, 2019
Foreign interference in our elections is unacceptable, period.https://t.co/mjfIgrVmXL
Donald Trump committed yet another act of treasonous betrayal of the USA by publicly welcoming interference in our democratic elections by our nation’s foreign adversaries. His comments were truly shameful, despicable and indefensible... except by other traitors.🇺🇸 #TraitorTrump— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) June 13, 2019
Trump’s interview with @GStephanopoulos crystallizes what’s at stake:— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) June 12, 2019
Unless Democrats and Republicans in Congress impeach him, every future president has grounds to ask foreign adversaries to launch covert operations against political rivals in the U.S. #existential
This is just the latest example of what Vice President Biden meant when he said that Mr. Trump is an existential threat to our country. “Unfit to be President” is a gross understatement. @realDonaldTrump is undeserving of any public office, and all Americans should be outraged. https://t.co/vi0gYUxi67— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) June 12, 2019
But the gasps of horror were not limited to haters. Laura Ingraham and Victor Davis Hanson were aghast:
"Setting aside the question of why you would have George Stephanopoulos standing over the president in the Oval Office — I don't know who approved that — what about this notion of accepting foreign Intel about an opponent? Is that a risk for President Trump, getting pulled back into Mueller? Again, why he was put in that situation is beyond me."
Victor Davis Hanson agreed that "you shouldn't ever talk to George Stephanopoulos," and said Trump probably "intended to" bring up something like Adam Schiff getting called by Russian pranksters.
He added, "I think the cardinal rule is in Trump's case you don't even discuss that. You just say I don't want to talk about it."
Ingraham said it seemed like he was "playing with" Stephanopoulos a bit but added, "Putting him in that situation, I don't get it."
Here is some help for the perplexed: as the DOJ inspector general's report looms and U.S. attorney John Durham's mandate has been described in the broadest terms by A.G. Barr, Trump has the Democrats nattering on about how treasonous it is to accept any information from any foreign country. How about paying Russian agents with campaign money for fake dirt on an opponent, even if laundered through a law firm and Fusion GPS?
When and if indictments related to Fusion GPS are revealed, the defense lines of the progressives will have some Trump-sized holes in them.
Even NeverTrump Erick Erickson, of the anti-Trump Resurgent, sees the trap:
[W]e should point out that the Steele dossier involved a lot of dirt about Donald Trump from Russia and we now know that a good bit of it was made up. The Mueller report itself notes the supposed 'pee tape' the Democrats have been all hot and bothered over was fabricated by the Russians.
Perhaps the President should not have said it, but let's not pretend the Democrats would actually go racing to the FBI if presented with sensational information about Trump. They'd run to opposition research firms instead.
By the way, before you claim the Democrats handed the Steele dossier over to the FBI, please note that they used it to spread anti-Trump stories in the media for months before doing so not very long before Election Day 2016.
The Steele Dossier was an important foundation of the entire Russia Hoax. Trump has now got many of his worst enemies on the record about how heinous it was to accept any intelligence from a foreign source. Trump mentioned Norway. Hillary and the DNC paid for dirt from Russia.
Trump, it must always be remembered, is the most successful reality TV producer in the history of the medium of television. He knows how to set up a storyline for a payoff later in the season — in this case, the election season.