Former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa explained in a Twitter thread one piece of the argument about why it’s wrong to take "dirt" from a foreign government, particularly an adversary.
The moment came after President Donald Trump said in an ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos that the FBI was “wrong” to claim that candidates should report it if a foreign entity offers them dirt on an opponent during an election. The president has tried to turn it around to say that he was talking about meeting with foreign officials.
"Nations don’t have 'friends,' they have interests," Rangappa explained. "Hostile foreign adversaries, in particular, are designated as 'hostile' because they are typically acting against U.S. interests, principles, or values."
Indeed, there is a difference between a foreign individual doing research and a hostile government hacking an opponent with the purpose of undermining an American election.
"When foreign governments are offering to 'help' a particular candidate, it’s not because they want to have a beer with them at some point. They want to be able to change our policies — including ones that make it easier for them to do things against the interests of the U.S.," Rangappa continued, emphasizing the last sentence.
She noted the second reason is that it can ultimately lead to leverage and blackmail.
"The second reason we don’t want this is that when such help is accepted and kept hidden, it becomes a source of liability for the candidate/officeholder. This means that the foreign government then has LEVERAGE (sic) over a person who ends up in a position of public trust," she explained.
"Obviously, someone who can be directly or indirectly coerced into using their position and powers to advance the interest of another country — including to the detriment of the United States — IS NOT GOOD FOR AMERICANS (sic). This is bad. Not want. Bad," she continued. "I’m sad that this has to be spelled out but here we are."
She urged Twitter to look at a Politico Magazine piece she authored last year, that warned the framers of the Constitution were concerned about this hundreds of years ago.