Congressman John Sarbanes

Representing the 3rd District of Maryland

After Trump’s Controversial Comments, Congress Fights Over Foreign Influence Measures

June 14, 2019
In The News

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s comments to ABC News that he would be open to foreign offers of political dirt on his 2020 rivals before maybe contacting the FBI, Democrats on Capitol Hill used the controversial remarks to renew their push for legislation targeting foreign assistance in American campaigns – a push that’s already run up against some Republican opposition. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said representatives would take up legislation that would require candidates to contact the FBI if contacted by a foreign government offering political dirt during a campaign. That measure appeared to have Republican support, as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who largely otherwise defended Trump's remarks to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, said Republicans would "gladly vote for this." But a similar measure in the Senate on Thursday hit a partisan wall after Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., attempted to have the bill passed immediately and unanimously. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., blocked the measure…. House Democratic leaders are currently reviewing other legislative proposals that could receive votes on the floor before the chamber's August recess, potentially including pieces of H.R. 1, Democrats' massive election security anti-corruption package passed earlier this year…. Another proposal would clarify election regulations surrounding foreign nationals involvement in elections. Under current rules, foreigners are prohibited from making financial contributions to American campaigns or donating any other "thing of value," according to the Federal Election Commission. "Whether or not you can establish monetary value, they have implied value, and those should be banned," Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., said of opposition research.