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'Is This Thing On?': FEC Chair Forced to Remind Trump (Again) That It Is 'Illegal' to Solicit Election Help From Foreign Governments

"Oh, it's on—but someone isn't listening or can't read (or both)."

President Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Florida.

President Trump speaks to the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Florida. (Pjoto: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Ellen Weintraub, the chair of the Federal Election Commission, took to Twitter Thursday afternoon to muse over whether or not President Donald Trump understands that soliciting or accepting foreign assistance during an election is against the law.

"Is this thing on?" Weintraub wondered, linking to a tweet she made in June drawing attention to the fact that it is illegal for any American—a political candidate, a regular citizen, or even the U.S. president—to solicit or accept "anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election."

"Oh, it's on," tweeted journalist John Heilemann in response to Weintraub, "but someone isn't listening or can't read (or both)."

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During remarks to the press outside the White House Thursday morning, as Common Dreams reported earlier, the president offered no evidence as he publicly accused former Vice President Joe Biden of corruption but nonetheless asked the governments of both China and Ukraine to investigate his allegations. 

"Let's be very clear what’s happening here: Trump is openly asking foreign governments to interfere in the 2020 presidential election against his political rivals," said journalist Ari Berman. "And Republicans are allowing it to happen by doing nothing about impeachment or election security."

The FEC has not met since August due to a lack of quorum and the disinterest of President Donald Trump in filling the panel's empty seat, as Common Dreams reported at the time, legal watchdogs warned that leaving the commission so toothless just as the 2020 presidential campaign ramped up was courting "disaster."

Despite diminished enforcement capacity or the ability to even to hold meetings, the commission chair is able to draw attention to the letter of the law.

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