tv Washington Journal Lawrence Noble Discusses Election Law and the Russia... CSPAN July 16, 2017 10:31pm-11:01pm EDT
announcer: monday, republican senator tom cotton of arkansas's speaks at the center for strategic and international strategy. live coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. at how u.s. elections interacts with foreign issues. from washington journal, this is about 30 minutes. >> 80 discussion on the election law.
for those who are not familiar, what is the campaign legal center? >> a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization center. we believe every citizen has a right to participate in our democracy. law to make sure we are defending promoted people's ability to participate. host: how are you funded? guest: we are funded by foundations and private contributions. host: before we get to detail of donald trump jr.'s meeting last june, what are the rules pertaining to the presidential candidate for his senior officials having contact with some one, a representative from a foreign government during a campaign? guest: campaign finance rules are based on the expenditure of money. a foreign national and a foreign government are prohibited from
spending money in u.s. elections. it is one of the few provisions that apply to state and local elections. the real idea is we do not win foreign governments and nationals interfering with our elections. if the campaign accepts a contribution from a foreign national, it is illegal, also to solicit a conservation from a foreign national. that includes money in anything of value, which should be providing opposition research, anything they have to spend money on to produce would be something the buyer if they gave it to the campaign. host: who determines if it is of value? several ways, the federal election commission is a civil enforcement agency that reviews these laws and fax and they determine if something is of value. when a foreign national spends money to support the campaign, it is illegal. if it's also be where the criminal justice court gets involved. host: we want to get definitions from you, coalition,
coordination and -- collusion, coordination and conspiracy. is a shorthandn term. in campaign finance law, it is a question of coordination. you can do things independently of the campaign and it isn't considered a contribution, but when you coordinate, it is. coordination involves talking to the person making the expenditure, giving them plans, projects and needs. that is coordination and can turn a legal activity into an illegal activity. host: president trump was asked about his son's meeting with that russian lawyer, i want to play his response. [video clip] president trump: he is a great young men, a fine person. he took a meeting with a lawyer from russia. it lasted for a short period, nothing came of the meeting. i think it is a meeting most people in politics probably would have taken.
mr. president? president macron: yes, to answer your question, i think it is inays good not to interfere domestic life. president trump: what is the answer then? [laughter] host: the president and french president there. your thoughts on that expedition from president trump. guest: it is wholly inadequate and ignores the facts of what we know and what his son has admitted. this was not just a short meeting. this was a meeting set up after donald trump jr. garden email saying that this lawyer -- got in the mail saying this russian lawyer had information, based on their attempts to help the trump campaign. going into this meeting, they knew where they thought they were going to get information that would help them in the election. it was information gathered by
the russian government. the idea most anyone would take that meeting is false. i think most political people in washington and lawyers, when you get in the middle like that, they tell you, immediately they know and turn it to the fbi. host: how long have you been working in election law? guest: 40 years. host: have you seen something like this? guest: not like this. we had fed incidents of foreign nationals trying to influence elections and investigations for republican and democratic sides. usually, it has to do with foreign nationals trying to put money into the u.s., but i have not seen where you have meetings way think you're getting information from a foreign government and the context. basically, a long discussion of the administration and his family's involvement with russia and denials that anything was going on with backs show differently.
no, i have not seen anything like this. host: very noble with this for the next 25 -- larry noble with us for the next 25 years. democrats, (202)-748-8000. republicans, (202)-748-8001. independents, (202)-748-8002. paul from ohio, like the democrats. inler: hello, i am calling regards to the russian involvement in a presidential election. although i am a democrat, i think regardless of your politics, if you are a democrat, republican or independent, this issue should be upsetting. for the first time in this history of the nation, a foreign power has had a role in determining who the president of the united states would be. we need an independent investigator to investigate this matter to find out how deeply the russians got involved. from what i have seen on the thatand tv, it appears
some high-ranking republicans went along with this. we need to see how deeply this went into the republican party. host: thank you. don't we already have an independent investigator? guest: we do. we have an independent counselor investigating this, and we assume he's investigating all of them. you would expect congress and the house without hearings on this type of thing, and our organization, along with others, have filed complaints over the meeting and solicitation of foreign contributions. i agree with the caller. what we need is a full-scale investigation to find out with the russian involvement was and find out, what, if any involvement the political campaign had. host: toward the ramifications? is it a fine, something that is
a criminal felony? guest: they can investigate the campaign, ore people involved, or it can refer it to the department of justice for criminal prosecution. i have to say, the ftc these days is not known as an aggressive agency and there was a statement made the other day by republican commissioner that he got they should let the other investigations go forward. that aseady see responsible to look at something like this. host: willful and knowing violation seems more of an artistic term. how do you define that? are there strict rules? guest: it means you knew what you were doing, you know the law and you still did it. you knew it was illegal to solicit a foreign contribution and accept a foreign contribution, yet, you did it. host: line for independents.
caller: thank you. i have a question, i wonder if this incident would be investigated as aggressively as hillary would have won? thank you. guest: this is an issue comparing what would have happened with hillary. if hillary clinton was president, this had happened and republicans had the house and senate, yes, this would be investigated aggressively with hearings on it. if it had happened with her campaign? guest: yes, with her campaign. we have seen this from the past. one of the reasons you are seeing hesitancy in the house and senate to conduct a full investigation is because they are concerned about upsetting the base and they're hoping to get their agenda through. at some points, we all americans. if hillary clinton had done this, i would be calling for an
investigation on that. host: i think if you had been asking, if hillary clinton had won, do you think this meeting between donald trump jr. and the russian lawyer, do you think there would have been investigated as much? guest: if you had a republican house and senate, possibly not. i think she would be calling on the issue but there are something else, it would be a violation and an important matter. what makes it more serious is that he is president. if she is president and investigation is about him, it is important, and it should be carried through. it is not as serious when the person involved or allegedly involved with russia is the president at the time. host: in england, barbara is waiting period republican. good morning -- is waiting. republican. are you there? from barber inr
england but don't think she was by her fun. gerard is in staten island, new york. go ahead. heard, we had been talking about this russia for such a long time. trump is president, and canned the government get on with governing and forget about russia? russia is just russia and we are just the united states. guest: we have been talking about it for a long time, but new information keeps coming out. it came out last week about this meeting with the russian attorney that john will trump donald involved -- that trump jr. was involved, jared kushner, so we are not talking about something that happened two years ago, these meetings are going on. host: what concerns you more, the original meeting or the changing explanations about the meeting, and which one should
concern donald trump jr. more? guest: they both do, but the original meeting and what happened and it is rehabbed the initial violation. -- is where we have the initial violation. what concerns me is the stories keep changing. donald trump jr. said nothing happened, and we have gone to him saying that they did not know who was going to be at the meeting and it turns out there emails that not only describe what the meeting is about, which is information about hillary clinton, but referred to part of the russian government attempting to help donald trump, and donald trump jr.'s response is, i love it. i think that is a serious offense of credibility questions and there is another issue. if you think about it, he says he was excited about the possibility of getting this information and he was frustrated because he did not learn anything. was that the last contact he
had? that,e do know is after wikileaks started releasing emails hacked by russia, according to our intelligence agency. host: president trump has tweeted already, he wrote -- hillary clinton can legally get the question about the debate and delete 30 3000 males, but my son don is been scorned by the take news media? guest: this is not something the is making a. his sons emails show it happened. this is not take news. this is real news and he needs to face up to that. host: about 15 minutes left with larry noble. campaignlegalcenter.org,
easy to find. a democrat in virginia, good morning. caller: my cousin is bobby kennedy. one, whents to make, this was going on in june, why wouldn't there have been a movement to maybe try and change state regulations on absentee voting? and betsy devos's brothers attended meetings in west africa, talked about his locker a trump, andt ivank i feel this new policy with president trump in cuba trying to restrict trade while there is this boom in russian investments, you know, the importance of looking more at what is happening there. host: a lot there to sort through, what do you want to
pick up on from that? guest: one of the issues here, and we had known it from the beginning is that president trump's family does have business dealings abroad. businesstensive dealings abroad. one of the concerns from an ethics standpoint from the beginning is the present potential conflicts of interest and put the family and the president in a situation where it may look like they are trying to help themselves as opposed to the country. when you move into this situation, that background effects of people thing and if you are concerned these meetings may have in some way been related to business dealings in the past with russia. these are big concerns. those are ones we will have to deal with. they will not go away. he is hurt by the fact that he keeps denying or partially denying russia had influence or other people may have had influence, even though the
intelligence agency says he has had some. it needs to be investigated fully. host: i want to ask what you make of this story in the washington post and other papers, president trump campaign made a payment last month to the law firm of the attorney representing donald trump jr. two weeks before was announced the same attorney would be representing his son and that russian related probe, according to campaign finance reports filed and released. guest: there is a law that prohibits a campaign from using campaign funds for personal use. that is any use you would have irrespective of the campaign. in this case, that means you can use campaign funds for matters related to the campaign, such as the russian investigation involving the campaign. meansem to pay these fees they had decided something was going on with donald trump jr. that required legal advice.
this is at the time before we knew about the meetings, before anything was released. i do not know if it means they knew something was coming up and they were worried about it, but they had to see at this point they were paying those legal fees because it was a campaign related matter. host: to michigan, brian, independent. go ahead. caller: obviously, there is confusion with this. we are supposed to be the land of free speech. we allowed russians and others, but i guess we are supposed to put up some kind of quasi-wall we cannot speak to that salient and the the process dnc, it appears the so-called russians, we do not know for sure, but they acted in the dnc, and from what i understand, clinton and the people around him did not want our own intelligence people to find out
and ascertain what was going on. why didn't the dnc trust our own government? to trust themwant now, why did they not trust them to do a proper investigation and find out the extent? act, 9/11, the patriot homeland security, i worked in intelligence, so maybe it will not go into too much, but we cannot handle all of the information that is coming into our government through the nsa, and it is causing problems. we need to get back to the constitution. guest: i cannot answer why the the fbi looking at service. i have read what they said and i think they should fully cooperate. this is not a tit-for-tat situation, that if the dnc to not want the fbi to look at its
servers, we should not investigate whether russia was involved. host: does it matter that the russian lawyer reported he was cleared by the department of justice to come to the united states? guest: no. it is not affect whether a violation occurred. we are not saying the person snuck into the united states. you can be here illegally, but unless you are a resident alien or citizen, you cannot make the contribution of be involved in our election. again, one thing a foreign national can do is volunteer for campaigns. .hey can volunteer for campaign they cannot use other people's money, for nationals money to help the campaign or use their own money in minimal amounts to help the campaign. host: isn't volunteering for campaign giving something to it? guest: that is the debate at the
time, and they decided your own individual activity is exempted from expenditure, but they were clear that that was shown activity. resourcesng other into it, it is illegal. in no way does that volunteer activity allow you to use the russian government to come up with information or to use any resources as a foreign national. host: can you bring information on your own that could be considered opposition research? guest: interesting question. if the attorney her own certain facts and she wanted to tell the campaign them, that would probably not be a violation. if it was something she hired people to research, that would be a violation. if she got these facts from the russian government, that would be a violation. no, she said herself that i have been involved in the field along time, and i saw when the dnc took money from foreign
government, that would be a violation. host: that was not in these emails released. guest: not at all. virginia and pennsylvania, republican. caller: yes, i would like to know how much time you spend investigating the obama election? i understand there were dead people voting, people turn to her from the polls -- people turned away from the polls, all kinds of corruption. guest: we are strictly nonpartisan. if you go to our website, we put an expedition on their homepage about what nonpartisan means and we list actions we have taken against democrats and republicans. we do have voting rights sections of our organization. but without getting too deep into it, the issue of voter fraud is not evidence of a lot of people who are voting and i think the problems on the other
of restricting people from voting. during the campaign, -- host: which campaign question mark guest: the past camp -- which campaign? guest: the past campaign, they criticized the clinton campaign for the fund rising. we over filed a complaint against the clinton campaign for illegally working for a so-called outside group. we have been nonpartisan about this. if receipt a violation, we will file a complaint. host: norm in north carolina, go ahead. caller: i am enjoying the conversation. i will bring it back to topic. there seems to be a lot of call on the right and the last one is an example, where they try to obfuscate the point and bring up other issues they feel are germane to the conversation, haven't we been talking about this long enough, so on and so forth?
benghazi was investigated 33 times and nobody on the right was calling for us to get over that issue at that point. considering what the trump team just revealed in these emails, at what point does mr. mueller start drinking the folks from andtrump campaign into start questioning them? and will those be broadcasted the way the senate hearings are? guest: i agree with the caller that of the arguments are distraction and you have to focus on the problem now. as far as what mr. mueller is doing, i assume he is looking at this and look at the russian connections, any russian involvement in our elections, and what the campaign had to do with it. we will not see it while the investigation is going on. they are confidential. what we will see eventually is if he takes action on this and
then we will see what is going on. host: he does not need to announce philia springing in for interviews? guest: no, he does not. normally, you do not want to announce you are bringing in or give people warnings. he may be talking to major players now. is hiringok at who lawyers. that is an indication. host: chris, maryland, republican. caller: good morning. in april 2016, the new york times [indiscernible] and two, comey stopped investigating clinton and trump jr. gets a call there is information, that the dnc was looking at the campaign to the and this was all
preconvention, so it is a little shaky, pressure, but with insider information, it is nice to get. at the same time, democrats are trying to block any reform of voter fraud and manipulation. i just wondered about that. host: the two topics we have talked a little bit about already but anything to add? guest: we have to settle -- separate various actions. if the clinton campaign did something wrong, that should be investigated and as an earlier caller pointed out, there were investigations of what secretary clinton did. it is important for this country to focus on what is going on now because it involves integrity of our elections and government. this is one of the most serious .hings that can happen
whether or not there other things that should be investigated and whether or not -- whether or not that bothers you, let that slide for a moment and think about what is going on now. there is evidence that donald trump jr.. he was going to get information that was a result of the russian government trying to help his father get elected and he took the meeting. i think that is serious in and of itself. host: last call, line for democrats. go ahead. withr: my comment is a man what the other gentleman said, what if we had president clinton and chelsea clinton was found to have had the same meeting with the russians, what do you think the response would be from the republicans and the commentators on fox news over that? guest: i think given the way
politics works, if we had a president clinton now and chelsea clinton had the meeting, and the republicans had the house and senate, there would be a number of investigations now. i think the media right now is heavily supporting president trump in this issue and would be attacking her. we live in that world, but it does not change the facts that if there was a violation of the law, it needs to be investigated and we need to know what is going on. president trump is our president and we have to update it what he is doing is for the country, not because of business deals with russia or has had previous involvement with russia and they helped his campaign. host: very noble with
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