FEC chairwoman reiterates illegality of soliciting campaign help from foreign governments

Federal Election Commission (FEC) Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub on Thursday called attention to a previous statement on the illegality of campaigns accepting foreign assistance, after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE urged Ukraine and China to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Castro hits fundraising threshold for December debate Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa MORE and his son. 

"Is this thing on?" Weintraub said on Twitter, pointing to a statement she released in June after the president suggested that he would accept damaging information on a political opponent if offered by a foreign power. 

Trump ignited outrage from several Democrats and some Republicans that month after expressing a willingness to accept dirt on a political opponent from a country such as Russia or China. 

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Asked by ABC News host George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosImpeachment can't wait Biden reverses, says marijuana isn't a gateway drug Democrats look to next steps in impeachment MORE if he would go to the FBI in such a scenario, the president replied, "I think you might want to listen."

"There’s nothing wrong with listening," he continued. "It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI."

The comments prompted Weintraub to release a statement bluntly noting that it is illegal for campaigns "to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election."

"I would not have thought that I needed to say this," Weintraub tweeted alongside her statement, which said that the law was not a "novel concept."

"Anyone who solicits or accepts foreign assistance risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation," she said. 

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Weintraub reiterated those remarks moments after Trump escalated his efforts to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over unsubstantiated allegations of corruption. 

“I would think that if they were honest about it they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked what he wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to do about the Bidens following the July 25 phone call.

He later added that China should also "start an investigation into the Bidens.” 

Trumps interactions with the leader of Ukraine are at the center of a whisteblower complaint that accuses the president of enlisting a foreign nation in his 2020 reelection efforts.

Revelations regarding Trump's interactions with Zelenksy led the House to launch a formal impeachment inquiry of the president last week.