The response to President Trump’s gob-smacking declaration that he would gladly take opposition research from foreign adversaries — despite the clear illegality of that prospect — has been almost universally condemned by both Democrats and at least the more ethical Republicans in Congress.
Even politicians normally seen sucking up to the president like an octopus’ tentacle — such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — are canny enough to distance themselves from Trump’s outrageous declaration of criminally traitorous intent.
Yet one Republican Congressman not only refused to condemn Trump’s disastrous comments, but he also doubled down on them.
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Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT) — ironically a member of the House Intelligence Committee — told CNN‘s Jim Scuitto yesterday that it would be “foolish” not to take information from a foreign government about an opponent during an election campaign.
While Congressman Stewart said that he might not phrase the suggestion the way that President Trump did in his controversial ABC news interview, he did believe that there are good reasons to examine what the foreign government may offer.
“It depends on who it is and the circumstances and how credible it is,” Stewart told CNN. “There might be valuable information that comes from one of our allies. If they look at it, and it’s credible, I think it would be foolish not to take that information.”
"There might be valuable information that comes from one of our allies … I think it would be foolish not to take that." @RepChrisStewart, when asked by @jimsciutto if it is acceptable for the President to accept information from foreign countries.https://t.co/NTAtcqHgVh pic.twitter.com/OgAksVSGKH
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) June 14, 2019
Perhaps Rep. Stewart is simply looking at the lack of consequences that the Trump campaign has suffered to date after its call for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email in the 2016 election and stating the obvious conclusion for political expediency.
Stewart seems to think, however, that breaking federal campaign finance laws and the potential conviction that could be earned under those laws — even if after a substantial delay in enforcement — would not be “foolish.”
The Utah representative would do well to heed the tweet posted by Federal Elections Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub reminding President Trump of what federal law actually says about the subject after she heard his initial claims of the propriety of accepting foreign intelligence for partisan purposes.
I would not have thought that I needed to say this. pic.twitter.com/T743CsXq79
— Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) June 13, 2019
During his CNN appearance, Congressman Stewart tried to have it both ways simultaneously defending the president’s admission that he’d gladly accept whatever info he could get on his opponents no matter what the source while falsely attributing the responsibility for the infamous Steele Dossier to the Hillary Clinton campaign when it was actually initially commissioned by one of Trump’s own Republican primary challengers before being taken over by the Clinton campaign after Trump won the GOP nomination.
“Do you see the irony of those who are criticizing the president for something he said. And not criticizing Hillary Clinton and the Democrats for something they actually did,” Stewart said.
Stewart fails to note that it was the late Republican Senator John McCain who brought the Steele Dossier to the FBI’s attention, not as an example of how the Clinton campaign was colluding with foreign nationals to get opposition research, but out of concern that Trump himself was compromised by Russia.
Representative Stewart is yet another Trump lapdog defending the president at any cost to his own credibility and ethical standards. If anything is foolish, it would be listening to his pathetic excuses for the president’s clear indication that he is willing to commit further crimes in his attempt to achieve yet another illegitimate victory.
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Original reporting by Thomas Burr at The Salt Lake Tribune.