Trump said he would welcome Russian help for his re-election campaign. Booker just called that ‘dangerous and destructive.'

Posted Jun 13, 2019

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s welcoming of assistance from Russia or China for his 2020 re-election campaign was “dangerous and destructive.”

So says U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who hopes to wrest the job from Trumpnext November.

Booker was responding to Trump’s comments to ABC News that he would listen if a foreign adversary of the U.S. had damaging information about his 2020 opponent.

“It’s dangerous and destructive,” Booker told NJ Advance Media on Thursday, “It is so reckless. It’s an explicit sort of vandalism against our ideals."

In the ABC interview, Trump refused to rule out accepting help from a foreign adversary rather than immediately reporting the offer to the FBI.

“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI -- if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘Oh, let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it.”

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump’s position was “the ultimate undermining of our democracy."

“In all of my years, I never thought I’d find a president willing to subvert the integrity of our national elections by accepting the assistance of a foreign government,” said Menendez, D-N.J. “This is the ultimate national security threat because it goes to the very core of our democracy.”

Trump’s comments came just hours after Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-7th Dist., introduced legislation requiring campaign committees to tell the Justice Department if they are approached by foreign powers, the same way banks must file suspicious activity reports.

“For a president to invite foreign powers to offer political candidates stolen information about his opponents is disgraceful,” said Malinowski, a former assistant U.S. secretary of state.

The bill also would ban committees from sharing non-public data with foreign agents, such as then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort did with someone linked to Russian intelligence.

Another New Jersey freshman, Rep. Andy Kim, a former national security aide, called Trump’s comments “troubling."

“We need to draw a line,” said Kim, D-3rd Dist. "This is our democracy, and nobody’s vote should be influenced by another country’s interests.”

In his report, special counsel Robert Mueller chronicled how Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help elect Trump, whose campaign welcomed the assistance, even if no laws were broken. Trump at one point publicly asked Russia to hack Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton’s email server.

And FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate subcommittee hearingin May that any attempts by a foreign government to influence U.S. elections should be reported. "That is something that the FBI would want to know about,” he said.

Trump told ABC: “The FBI director is wrong.”

The Democratic-controlled House has passed legislation to strengthen election security, but the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to bring the bill up for a vote.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., blocked legislation by Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., requiring presidential campaigns to tell the FBI when foreign nationals offer support.

Booker said Trump’s comments were typical of the president’s efforts to distract attention from the real story.

“He’ll say things outrageous on a regular basis to suck the oxygen and our attention from from covering the issues that are urgently facing the American people,” he said.

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