Ellen Weintraub, chair of the Federal Election Commission, was moved once again to remind political candidates that asking for help from foreign governments is illegal, minutes after President Donald Trump publicly did just that.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Thursday morning, the president urged the governments of Ukraine and China to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
“Is this thing on?” Weintraub wrote as she retweeted a message she first posted in June, this time adding a microphone emoji.
“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,” the chair’s original message read.
“This is not a novel concept,” the original post continued. “Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation. Our Founding Fathers ... knew that when foreign governments seek to influence American politics, it is always to advance their own interests, not America’s.”
Weintraub was prompted to post that reminder in June after Trump told ABC News that he would consider accepting information on a political rival from a foreign national and dismissed the idea that such an act would constitute foreign interference in a U.S. election. The Mueller report, released earlier in the year, outlined Russian interference in the 2016 election along with 10 instances in which Trump may have sought to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation.
Now, the president has apparently become bolder than ever.
Despite White House officials’ alleged efforts to cover up a July conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ― in which the U.S. leader asked his Ukrainian counterpart to dig up dirt on Biden ― Trump solicited help from another foreign country before news cameras on Thursday.
He did so even as the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry centered on Trump’s conversation with Zelensky, which came to light in a whistleblower complaint.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump said.
The president is thought to view Biden as his chief rival in the 2020 election.