On Wednesday’s edition of CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” former federal prosecutor and deputy assistant attorney general Elliot Williams told Chris Cuomo just how many crimes President Donald Trump could be committing if he follows through with his remarks on knowingly accepting dirt on political opponents from foreign governments.
“There’s any number of crimes that could be violated here,” said Williams. “There’s campaign finance violations. And it’s ironic that we’re having this conversation, literally, Chris, the day Donald Trump Jr. testified before Congress that he didn’t know that he was receiving value potentially wrongly from a foreign actor, but clearly his father doesn’t help that case, does he?”
Williams continued to list offenses. “So there is all the campaign finance violations. Look, if you’re using computers, there’s wire fraud questions. If you know what you’re doing and interacting with a foreign government, you start getting into the realm of espionage and national security offenses and then computer hacking and other sort of computer offenses, too. So there are a lot of things that are implicated when you start talking about taking the aid of a foreign government in our federal election system. And the president’s just opening the door to that. Look, I’d like to say it’s shocking at this point.”
“Let’s use an instructive example from 2000, when the Gore campaign just got a package on its front doorstep of, not even foreign intelligence, but about the Bush campaign,” said Williams. “They immediately called the FBI because something seemed kind of fishy about it. That’s what you do and that’s when you’re behaving properly.”
Williams added that behavior this egregious is virtually an article of impeachment unto itself.
“Impeachable offenses don’t require the reasonable doubt standard, which is kind of what saved Donald Trump Jr.,” said Williams. “If he’s behaving poorly and abusing his constitutional oath, absolutely this becomes impeachable. Look, the president seems to be sort of this walking obstruction of justice machine every time he opens his mouth. He’s either obstructing justice or tiptoeing up to the bounds of what’s lawful. And statements like this can absolutely come in, either in a criminal proceeding or in an impeachment proceeding as indicating his intent that this is what he intended to do back then.”
“It’s almost like an ongoing scheme that he continues to keep perpetuating,” Williams concluded. “I’d like to say the president ought to shut his mouth. I know we’re not going to get that, but we can’t expect sound judgment from this president anymore on any of this legal stuff, Chris.”
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"I like the idea of keeping Congress abreast, but I wouldn't have to do that," said Trump. In response to the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said he must obtain congressional approval first, Trump said, "I disagree. I think most people seem to disagree."
"I do like keeping them — they are intelligent people," added Trump. "They will come up with some thoughts. I actually learned a couple of things the other day when we had our meeting with Congress which I think were helpful to me. I do like keeping them abreast, but I don't have to do it, legally."
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On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told anchor Wolf Blitzer how foreign adversaries have been emboldened to challenge Trump — because for all his bombast, they know they are calling a bluff.
"I think Donald Trump is pretty well a known quantity at this point," said Toobin. "I mean, I think people around the world know he's a blowhard, knows he's full of bluster. But that's no reason to get into a war."
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