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Nancy Pelosi rips Trump for ‘betraying our democracy’ by inviting foreign dirt on 2020 rivals, as GOP struggles to defend him

2019-06-16

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she believes President Trump is engaged in a criminal cover-up and said that the president's remarks that he would accept opposition research from a foreign government is an indication that he doesn't know "right from wrong." (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The boss is running out of patience, Don.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed President Trump on Thursday for “betraying our democracy” by admitting he would welcome foreign interference in the 2020 election.

“The president gave us, once again, evidence that he does not know right from wrong,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. “Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the president said.”

Trump told ABC News in a televised interview Wednesday evening that there’s nothing wrong with taking political dirt on Democratic 2020 rivals even if it comes from foreign adversaries, such as Russia and China.

He said he wouldn’t necessarily report such interference to the FBI, either, even though his own FBI director says any candidate should do so.

“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.”

Not even some of Trump’s staunchest congressional allies managed to defend his shocking claim.

“I think it’s a mistake of law. I don’t want to send a signal to encourage this,” Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) had even harsher words for the president.

“That would be simply unthinkable for a candidate for president to accept that involvement, to encourage it, to participate with it in any way, shape or form,” Romney said at the Capitol. “It would strike at the very heart of our democracy.”

Legal experts say accepting the type of political dirt Trump talked about would likely make the president guilty of breaking campaign finance laws.

Ellen Weintraub, the chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, confirmed as much.

“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 U.S. election,” Weintraub said in a highly unusual statement. “This is not a novel concept.”

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during the Republican Party of Iowa Annual Dinner at The Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines, Iowa on June 11, 2019.
US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during the Republican Party of Iowa Annual Dinner at The Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines, Iowa on June 11, 2019. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The president has since he took office refused to unambiguously affirm his own intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia attacked the 2016 election with the explicit intention of disparaging Hillary Clinton and helping him.

Trump’s latest stunning remark offers yet another nudge to Democrats who are divided over whether to launch an impeachment inquiry.

A few more progressive-leaning Democrats came out in favor of immediately doing so after the shocking statement by Trump, which critics called a virtual invitation for foreign governments to gather dirt on Trump’s opponents.

“After hearing the president say, flat-out, that he would accept a foreign power’s offer of dirt on an electoral competitor and probably not inform the FBI of such an effort, I believe that Congress must pursue impeachment,” California Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted, joining a pro-impeachment chorus consisting of more than 60 House members, including renegade Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.

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Donald Trump in the White House

But Pelosi insisted she is sticking to her game plan on impeachment by resisting calls for immediate hearings in favor of continuing to investigate Trump and his administration.

She emphasized that Democrats remain focused on bread-and-butter issues, a strategy that she believes is a winner with voters as 2020 looms.

“We are going down this path to seek the truth for the American people and to hold the president accountable,” she said. “It has nothing to do with politics or any campaign.”

Several major Democratic 2020 candidates quickly piled on Trump, pointing to the statement as evidence that he must be removed from office before he does more damage to the democratic system.

“President Trump is once again welcoming foreign interference,” former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) chimed in, “Let’s speak the truth: this president is a national security threat."