Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News legal analyst, warned on Thursday that the president would be committing a felony if he accepted damaging information from a foreign power for an election.
Napolitano responded a day after Trump refused to commit in an ABC News interview to calling the FBI if he received political dirt from a foreign government on a political opponent. These remarks sparked massive controversy on Thursday.
When asked for his reaction to Trump’s comments, Napolitano said on Fox News’s “Shepard Smith Reporting” that Trump’s comments showed the president is “prepared to commit a felony to get reelected.”
“That was my reaction and it was not a happy one,” Napolitano. “I was not happy to hear it. I thought he shot himself in the foot politically. I wish he hadn’t said it, but he did.”
Asked by Fox’s Shepard Smith if Trump had any “wiggle room” when it came to listening to a foreign entity offering information on a political opponent, Napolitano said no.
“There’s no wiggle room with respect to dirt, with respect to opposition research because the Federal Election Commission has already decided in other cases that that is a thing of value,” he said. Napolitano added that it “comes from a statute which prohibits receipt of money or a thing of value from a foreign national. Whether the person is working for a foreign government or not.”
“So what the president said he would do to [ABC News’s] George Stephanopoulos would be felonious,” Smith responded.
“Correct,” Napolitano replied. “He would be committing a felony and the person giving it to him, if that person was ever here and subject to our jurisdiction, would be committing a felony as well.”
On Wednesday, Trump said in the ABC interview on that he’d be open to listening to a foreign government that had damaging information on a political opponent. When asked whether he would call the FBI or listen if Russia, China or another foreign government reached out, Trump said he might do both.
“I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening,” he said. “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.”
Stephanopoulos noted that FBI Director Christopher Wray has said campaigns should reach out to the bureau if they are contacted by a foreign entity.
“The FBI director is wrong,” Trump responded.
Trump defended his remarks early Thursday morning. He equated accepting information from a foreign government to his various diplomatic communications with foreign leaders as part of his role in the White House.
“I meet and talk to ‘foreign governments’ every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Whales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about ‘Everything!’ ” Trump tweeted.
“Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again.”
Credit: The Hill