Shared from the 4/22/2019 The Denver Post eEdition

TRUMP’S LAWYER SPEAKS ON INVESTIGATION

“Nothing wrong” with getting info from Russians

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, said Sunday that there is “nothing wrong” with a campaign accepting information from Russians, defending the Trump team’s efforts to obtain damaging material about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 race.

“There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” Giuliani said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It depends on where it came from.”

His comments prompted a rebuke from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

“I said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s not ok to seek Russian help in your campaign,” Schiff said in a tweet. “It’s not ok to use materials they stole from your opponent, or to make it part of your campaign strategy. Sadly, my GOP colleagues do think that’s ok. The American people know better.”

Giuliani was speaking three days after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to the report, Trump sought ways to turn leaks of stolen emails to his advantage during the campaign.

At a rally in July 2016, Trump expressed hope that Russia would find about 30,000 emails that Clinton had said she deleted because they were of a personal nature. After that, “Trump asked individuals affiliated with his Campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails,” Mueller’s team found.

The report also states that Trump repeatedly directed aides not to disclose emails about the now-famous June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower attended by a Russian lawyer offering negative information about Clinton.

In Sunday’s interview, Giuliani told host Jake Tapper that “any candidate in the whole world” would accept negative information on an opponent.

Pressed by Tapper on whether that includes information “from a hostile foreign source,” Giuliani replied, “Who says it’s even illegal?”

Campaigns are not allowed to solicit or accept foreign contributions, which is defined as “anything of value” under campaign-finance laws and regulations. Federal campaigns can hire foreigners to conduct opposition research, as long as they pay a fair-market fee.

There is no explicit ban on opposition research provided free by foreigners to campaigns. But in his report, Mueller wrote that “candidate-related opposition research given to a campaign for the purpose of influencing an election could constitute a contribution” that is prohibited under the ban on foreign contributions.

Despite finding that the opposition research could have been considered an illegal foreign contribution, Mueller decided not to pursue criminal campaign-finance charges for other reasons.

This has led to officials such as Giuliani “offering a green light” for campaigns to accept in-kind contributions from foreign governments, which is “troubling,” said Richard Hasen, election law expert at the University of California, Irvine.

“In terms of good campaign practice, as soon as a campaign hears that a foreign government or a foreign entity wants to give help to the campaign, the appropriate thing to do is to go straight to the FBI and to decline that offer,” Hasen said.

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