Is it illegal for the President of the United States to ask a foreign dignitary to investigate a possible crime involving an American citizen?

52 U.S.C. § 30121 – U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 52. Voting and Elections § 30121. Contributions and donations by foreign nationals” makes it a crime for a campaign “receive” anything of value from a foreign government. It was never intended to include information as something of value. However liberals in their insatiable need to impeach Trump has applied the law to Trump request to Ukraine.

I have argued that it is perfectly legitimate for a President to ask a foreign power to investigate a crime. In fact it would be a violation of the constitution to criminalize gathering information.


(a) Prohibition

It shall be unlawful for–

(1)  a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make–

(A)  a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;

(B)  a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party;  or

(C)  an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title);  or

(2)  a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

(b) “Foreign national” defined

As used in this section, the term “foreign national” means–

(1)  a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of Title 22 , except that the term “foreign national” shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States;  or

(2)  an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 1101(a)(22) of Title 8 ) and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by section 1101(a)(20) of Title 8 .

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George Tarkanian, M.A Political Science & Education, Claremont Graduate University,Claremont, CA (1989) Professor at College of Southern Nevada 2001-present M.A Political Science & Education, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont,CA

No, it is not illegal, in fact it’s done all the time. In the case if Ukraine and China, for example, we have treaties with them each on precisely that topic. We cooperate with foreign nations on such matters as a matter of routine and they with us. There are international agencies, such as Interpol, which are dedicated to international policing efforts.

America routinely assists other countries in their investigations and urge them to cooperate in our investigations. The irony in all this is that the Democrats are now claiming that Trump’s doing so is illegal whereas when was perfectly ok with them when the Obama Administration and Joe Biden personally had done it against a Trump. The claim is that Trump is doing it for political and personal reasons reasons whereas Biden and the Obama Administration did it for, uhhh, personal and political reasons, involving the intelligence agencies of multiple countries, including Ukraine.. This is, of course, nonsensical.

In the case of the “investigation of a Trump, there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Trump or his campaign other than an admittedly salacious and unverified “dossier” which was used to commit a fraud on the FISA court to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump political campaign. In the case of Trump’s request, however, there is ample evidence of potential crimes sufficient to warrant a criminal investigation. Some of that evidence, undisputed by anyone, is that someone in Ukraine was involved in Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 elections including but not limited to hacking DNC and HRC servers, something which the Obama administration should have been investigating. Indeed, the portion of the transcript/memorandum in which Trump asks for a favor for the benefit of the United States has nothing to do with either Biden. The Bidens are not discussed, in fact, for another page and a half, pages in which other things were discussed.

The idea that Trump’s and the White House’s efforts to preserve the confidentiality and privileged nature of communications between Trump and foreign leaders is somehow a coverup is ludicrous. All presidents do this. It also is part of the job description. The Supreme Court has confirmed this as true. It recognized that such protection is necessary to enable free and frank discussions between the Unites States and other nations, and to promote international cooperation. The Democrats would destroy all that, well except for Democrat Presidents no doubt.

Secondly, there is substantial evidence giving rise to a reasonable, articulable suspicion, even probable cause,,of illegal conduct involving Hunter Biden and later Joe Biden. Biden the elder used his authority to quash an investigation that involved his son. Biden even bragged on camera about getting fired the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating the company which was paying a Hunter Biden, the son of the sitting Vice President having authority to deal with Ukrainian matters, $50,000 a month to sit on its board of directors even though he had no background or expertise relevant to the job.

The failure of the Obama administration to investigate this matter or to support Ukraine’s investigation into it amounts to either a dereliction of duty, massive incompetence, or a deliberate shielding of a potential major embarrassment. The problem for the Democrats is that their attempt to investigate Trump had no such factual predicate.

The Democrats seeks to avoid all these problems by trying to claim that Trump was engaged in a campaign finance violation, arguing that because Trump is a candidate for reelection in 2020 and there is a possibility that Trump stands to benefit politically because Joe Biden is running for the chance to be the Democratic nominee for President. This, they say, confers a thing of value on a Trump, a sine qua non for a campaign law violation.

There are numerous problems with this argument. First, the DOJ has already determined this is legally incorrect, and DOJ is correct about this. First, it cannot be a campaign finance violation because the statute itself specifically exempts the obtaining of information from the definition of a thing of value. This is because including information in the statutory definition would violate the First Amendment. Second, to be a campaign contribution it must be an expenditure or obligation that exists solely because of the campaign. Thus, a bumper sticker that says “vote for Trump” is a campaign expenditure, but a new suit or a haircut that makes the candidate more appealing and therefore more electable is not a campaign expenditure.

Both serve purposes other than just the campaign. Similarly, travel expenses for a trip to Podunk New Jersey for a campaign rally is a campaign expenditure, but travel costs to visit your aunt and make a speech while you are there is not. The fact that both have a positive effect on the campaign is irrelevant. Third, anything a politician does while in office will have a political effect.

That does not make them all campaign activities or expenditures. Prosecutors often deliberately target high visibility individuals both to put them behind bars, but also to enhance their chances to achieve their political ambitions. Legislators do the same thing. Most, if not all politicians have mixed motives for what they do. Based on the Democrats’ theories, they are all guilty of improprieties.

More important is the fact that the Democrats are advocating for immunity for corrupt politicians and/or their family members by saying they cannot be investigated or prosecuted no matter how much evidence supports the investigation or prosecution by anyone who coincidentally is a political opponent of the politician or his family.

The big difference between the investigation of Trump and the investigation of Hunter and/or Joe Biden is that the Biden matter’s impact on Trump’s political future is a byproduct of a justifiable investigation while the political impact of an unjustifiable investigation into Trump was the actual and only purpose of the investigation. They play into the popular belief that the rich and powerful get special treatment.

It is entirely appropriate for the United States, by and through the a President whose constitutional duty it is to pursue such things, to request foreign cooperation, even to the point of twisting arms and offering incentives for cooperation. And, no, the President is not obliged to explain his rationale for asking foreign nations to use their resources, even to the point of a quid pro quo arrangement.

Presidents do this all the time. It is part of the job description. It may well be that the a President may be required to seek congressional approval for funds if no other appropriated funds are available, but Congress in fact has no authority to interfere with the President’s conduct of foreign affairs with four exceptions. First, the whole Congress must declare war (however, it is unlikely to prevent a President from prosecuting a war started by someone else – the constitutional history supports the idea that this requirement exists to prevent presidential adventurism). Second, the Senate must ratify treaties. Third, the Senate must confirm Ambassadors. Fourth, Congress can appropriate or withhold funding.

And yes, the State Department and FBI have their own procedures for initiating involvement in foreign investigations, but the President is not obliged to follow them. The State Department and FBI work for the President, not the other way around. He is not even obliged to work through them.

Even Democrat heroes like FDR often worked independently of their subordinates and used outsider representatives and dealt directly with his foreign counterparts. Nothing in the Constitution forbids this or allows Congress to interfere. Even the Supreme Court acknowledges that the President has foreign affairs powers that predate the Constitution and are independent of it.

The bottom line is that the Democrat’s arguments and claims are illogical, contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States and historical practice.

Mark Pollot, J.D. Constitutional Law & Civil Rights, University of San Diego School of Law (1986)

There are many reasons why we have a single chief executive but one of them is clearly so that he may represent the interests of the United States in conversations with other chief executives. This happens all the time and in a very broad area of mutual interests.

One of the areas he may want to discuss is the very unusual instance where a senior member of the U.S. government extorts the foreign government by actually threatening to withhold U.S. financial assistance in order to further the interests of the member’s family. This is an important issue to both executives – to the U.S to preserve the integrity of it’s reputation and foreign relations and to the foreign government to receive U.S. assistance without threat of sanction.

Parenthetically, it should matter little that the government member may become a potential rival for the presidency. This is clearly a possibility, but if the matter is important to both governments it should be discussed between it’s executives. Formal procedures, such as formally requesting an investigation by either country, may come later. As in all other matters, like military assistance, emergency actions and treaties, formal procedures may follow informal discussions between the countries’ chief executives, but these matters must be discussed informally first. Formal action doesn’t suddenly appear out of the clear blue sky.

In the most recent example, which provoked your question, in March of 2016, during the former Ukrainian presidency of Petro Poroshenko, Vice President Joe Biden flew to the Ukraine, where his son, Forrest, was a board member of the energy company Burisma, for a fee of $3,000,000.00 per year despite having no knowledge of the Ukraine or of their energy business. This company was under investigation by Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin for corruption. Biden threatened to withhold U.S. loan guaranties of $1,000,000,000.00 unless Shokin was fired. Shortly thereafter, Shokin submitted his resignation and the investigation was discontinued.

In January 2018, Biden discussed this transaction on television, bragging that he achieved the firing of Shokin by threatening to withhold the billion dollar loan guarantee. This is clearly not some political fantasy. It happened. Biden admitted it.

Recently, President Trump had a telephone conversation with recently-elected Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelenskyy during which numerous subjects of mutual interest were discussed. One of the things Trump asked was that Zelenskyy look into this issue and offered the assistance of Attorney General William Barr and former U.S. Attorney and New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

This is a discussion of mutual interests well within the parameters of interests chief executives of friendly countries might have. There is nothing illegal about it and it is in fact a subject both men and their countries’ should have legitimate concerns about.

Bill Collins, J.D Juris Doctorate Law, California Western School of Law

No, it is not illegal. In fact we have a treaty with the Ukraine, among others, that is for that very thing. The only reason it is being declared illegal now is because Trump won the 2016 election and is threatening to win the 2020 election. Democrats are shitting their collective pants, and using the one brain they pass around to each other to figure out a way of removing him so people won’t re-elect him. It definitely was not speaker Pelosi’s day with the brain, but more on that later.

First, contrary to what Democrats are telling you, there is zero proof that Trump held up any aid in order to force Ukraine into investigating anything. In fact, he has a Senator who is a witness to the fact that Trump was holding back hoping it would cause the EU countries to chip in more aid. It makes sense because Ukraine not only says they did not only not feel pressured, but also never knew any aid was held up.

The favor line is a few hundred words before anything about Biden entered the picture. So it is almost impossible that that was the “favor.” The favor had to do with Barr and the Durham investigation, which is looking into the whole origins of the Russia investigation and Ukraine was a part of that. So that is perfectly legitimate.

The Biden part is definitely not the smartest thing to say when you are surrounded by dildos that are spying on you and want you removed from office, but again, there is no suggestion of any quid pro quo. The President asks the Ukraine’s President if he can look into that but, gee whiz, Joe Biden himself bragged about something that could possible be corruption, and his son sure got a lofty job out of it, and whether you like it or not, believe him or not, the fired prosecutor, Shokin, says that he was told to stop his investigation of Burisma because the US said so. If it isn’t true, hey, no problem, but Biden does not just get a free pass because he’s running for President. If you don’t remember Democrats have not given Trump a free pass and every investigation that they have going on in committees could be called corruption, in order to aid their Presidential Candidates if you are think this is an impeachable offense.

While I do think that is exactly what Democrats in the House are doing, holding all these investigations to dig dirt for the benefit of their Presidential Candidates, it would be nonsense to say that because they are Democrats and he is a Republican that they are banned from conducting oversight. Just because you may not like the President asking about Biden and his son, and just because a possible answer could benefit the president personally, it does not mean that he is banned from running the Executive branch, seeking justice, or asking the question. He asked to have it looked into, no demand for a particular result and no mention of elections.

Did anyone watch Nancy Pelosi do a press conference this morning. She either took too much of her prescription, had to much vodka with her breakfast, or ate a whole can of fuckin’ stupid, because she was just trying to make up incoherent nonsense on the spot. Notice she still has yet to identify any crime that took place. She went on and on about the Constitution like she just discovered the damn thing last night and was trying to just spit out as much as she could remember. “The President violated his oath of office…uh, uh, he, uh told me his call was perfect but it was not perfect as he said…blah blah.”

I just want to see one reporter brave enough to ask her how exactly he violated the oath of office, put national security at risk, broke the constitution, or state one single crime he committed in this call. Reporters refuse to ask and that is because they and Democrats have no answer. They are on the impeachment stupidity cruise like a bunch of lonely singles with a handful of condoms and a purse full of morning after pills. They all just want on board before their make up and hair gets messed up.

….And as expected all along Mr. Schiff lied about not having previous knowledge. That human stain probably helped write the whistle blower complaint…

Anthony Cady. Former U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Officer

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That depends on several factors. In the case of TRUMP and Ukraine, in 1998 the Clinton Administration entered into a mutual investigation treaty (ratified by Congress) which allows both countries to work together on criminal investigations that overlap their respective borders. Thus, an investigation in Ukraine involving corruption that involves an American would also be an American investigation the President could ask about with regard to the American — is he involved in the Ukraine corruption, did that corruption involved actions in the USA (criminal or otherwise)?

Not only is it legal, but, in terms of upholding the laws of the nation, it’s mandatory and any effort to block it is a violation of American law.

Bill Lipton, Dem County Chairman. Author, Professor of Business Studies. Accounting Specialist. Pace University. Lives in New York City

As the chief law enforcement officer, it’s his duty to look into corruption.

Some think Trump did not follow proper procedures, however there was an open investigation of both Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election, hence the reference to Crowd Strike.

There was an ongoing Inspector General and, we will see a CIA investigation, of Hunter Biden by the Ukrainian State prosecutor looking into Burisma, an oil and gas company that somehow decided to put Hunter Biden on the Board of Directors at $600,000 a year in 2014. Hunter Biden has no experience in oil and gas and had an at best marginal business background and a well-known substance abuse problem. He does not speak Ukrainian-Russian and had no known ties to any of the other board members or management. He was and is zero value added to any business, let alone a Ukrainian oil and gas business, especially at a “starting” fee of $600,000 a year.

The prosecutor, who has submitted an affidavit on what happened in a related case in Poland was told by the President of Ukraine that the American Vice-President had demanded that he quit, and the reason was the investigation of Hunter Biden and corruption at Burisma.

The goal of the investigations by U.S. Justice Department and Inspectors General is to learn what role Bursima and its principles may have had in the 2016 election.

Ironically, Biden’s admitted pressuring of Ukrainian internal prosecutions is exactly the type of illegal meddling, specifically, holding $1 Billion in U.S. Aid over their heads just to protect his son, that the Dems are now trying to put on Trump for looking into it.

Gregory Anderson. Trial attorney for 36 years. Partner at AndersonGlenn 1990-present.

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The u.s. president is the top law enforcement and military leader in the country. he not only has the right, but he has a responsibility to follow up if fraud or corruption is suspected on the part of the United States elected official, especially when international affairs are involved. A loose cannon politician or private citizen can do unimaginable harm to a countries foreign policy by blundering in to promote themselves.

There is a video tape of Joe Biden celebrating the fact that he approached and then shook-down the Ukrainian president, by threatening to withdraw or to keep earmarked America aid from the Ukraine, if the president did not fire his chief attorney general. This is classic quid pro quo, and even could be considered blackmail, given the dubious circumstances under which Biden son’s got a seat on the board of directors for Ukraine’s major energy company. Biden’s son received a salary of $50,000 a month as a member of that board. He had no previous energy experience, no business acumen, and had, in fact, been drug-addicted and, I think, had served time in prison for a drug conviction. the fighting’s did exactly the same thing in China, and there is proof of that as well.

By his own admission, the president of Ukraine, denies that he felt pressured or bullied or coerced by President Trump’s request for him to look into the dealings of the Bidens on behalf of the United States.

Quid pro quo deals by presidents have probably existed since George Washington’s time, but for a congressman 2 feather his or his relatives on nest by using his Congressional seat and then shaking down a foreign power, is completely wrong and needs to be brought to the American public.

I asked the Biden supporters, to look for that video. I just sawed this week on Fox news. It was undoctored and it was in full context of the very discussion that we are having at this moment. wouldn’t you rather find out that your candidate is a crook before you would like them rather than afterward? Di you believe that had Joe Biden not been running for congress that President Trump would not have pursued and investigation? If you think this, think again. Mr. Trump is determined to drain the swamp, and mr. Biden’s actions exemplified the dark actions of a swamp creature!

Carol Evans, Non-Profit National Education Program Manager.

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Among the many hats POTUS wears is Law Enforcement Officer in Chief. If anyone is conspiring to commit crimes in the USA he has the obligation to investigate, although that power is delegated to the Justice Department. If the crimes involve activities carried out in a foreign land POTUS has every right, maybe even the responsibility, to ask the officials of that foreign land to help in the investigation.

The State Department routinely is involved in criminal investigations in foreign countries. Many embassies have personnel dedicated to nothing else but the investigation of crime.

There are some criminal investigations that any sitting POTUS has to, by law, be informed of, the POTUS has the personal responsibility to oversee these investigations, but I don’t know of the investigation of Biden Jr. is one of those, but it is certainly within the scope of the President’s responsibility.

Paul Schwartz, MSEE Electrical Engineering, San Jose State University.

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