'This is not a novel concept': FEC chair brings the hammer down on foreign influence after Trump's widely panned interview on the same topic

  • Federal Election Commission chair Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, issued a scathing statement for “anyone running for public office.”
  • Her statement comes one day after an interview, in which President Donald Trump suggested he may not alert the FBI if a foreign power handed him damaging information about a political opponent.
  • “Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election,” she said in a statement.
  • Weintraub previously served as counsel to the House Ethics Committee and focuses on the “potential for corporate and ‘dark-money’ spending to become a vehicle for foreign influence in our elections,” according to her biography.
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The chair of the Federal Election Commission issued a scathing statement for “anyone running for public office,” following the airing of an interview in which President Donald Trump suggested he may not alert the FBI if a foreign power handed him damaging information against a political opponent.

Ellen Weintraub is a Democrat who has served on the commission since December of 2002 and is serving her third stint as its chair. In a statement on Thursday, she said she would not have believed this “needed” to be reiterated.

“Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election,” she said in a statement.

“This is not a novel concept,” she added. “Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation.”

Weintraub previously served as counsel to the House Ethics Committee and focuses on the “potential for corporate and ‘dark-money’ spending to become a vehicle for foreign influence in our elections,” according to her biography.

Read more: ‘This president is a national security threat’: 2020 Democrats sound the alarm after Trump says he would be open to accepting dirt on his political foes from foreign powers

Her statement follows Trump’s comments in an ABC News interview that aired on Wednesday. Trump suggested he considered damaging information against a political opponent, including info that come from Russia, as opposition research and not election interference.

“I think maybe you do both – I think you might want to listen,” Trump told the ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos. “There’s nothing wrong with listening.”

“Oh, I think I’d want to hear it,” Trump added. “It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI.”

Trump’s statement contradicts the advice given by FBI director Christopher Wray during a congressional hearing in May. Wray advised that lawmakers should contact the FBI if they were contacted by a country that intended to influence US elections.

Trump’s comments alarmed Democrats running in the 2020 US presidential election: “China is listening. Russia is listening. North Korea is listening,” Sen. Kamala Harris of California said in a tweet. “Let’s speak the truth: this president is a national security threat.”

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