On Wednesday, Donald Trump told a national television audience that he’d welcome foreign intervention in his own county’s 2020 elections. On Thursday, as CBS News reported, the president’s campaign put his position in practical terms:
President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign will handle damaging information on political opponents provided by foreign governments and entities on a “case by case basis,” according to the campaign’s top spokesperson.
Asked about Mr. Trump’s assertion that he would be receptive to dirt on rivals offered by foreigners, Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for the president’s reelection bid, told CBSN’s “Red & Blue” that campaign staff should take the president’s comments as a “directive” to handle foreign dirt through a two-pronged approach.
McEnany literally said, “The president’s directive, as he said, [it’s] a case by case basis.”
That’s not a legitimate answer. To hear the national press secretary for the president’s re-election campaign put it, Trump and his team may accept some illegal foreign assistance, and they may reject other illegal foreign assistance. In Trump World, there’s apparently no need for a blanket policy.
Except, of course, there should be.
For his part, the president returned to Fox News again this morning, where he kinda sorta clarified what he said to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.
In apparent reference to offers of campaign information from foreigners, Trump said in this morning’s telephone interview, “Of course you have to look at it, because if you don’t look at it, you’re not going to know if it’s bad.”
He added, “But of course you give it to the FBI or report it to the attorney general or somebody like that…. If I thought anything was incorrect or badly stated I’d report it to attorney general, the FBI, I’d report it to law enforcement, absolutely.”
Remember, it was just a couple of days ago when Trump, asked why he’d want foreign interference in American elections, said, “It’s not an interference. They have information, I think I’d take it.”
This morning’s rhetoric seemed more responsible, at least on the surface, but some additional clarification would be helpful. The president now believes he’d evaluate campaign information from foreign sources, determine if it’s “bad,” and then report to the authorities as appropriate.
But “bad” for whom? By what standard? What, if anything, could cross the property line for Trump?
For that matter, what exactly would he intend to do with the foreign information he considers “good”?