Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn blocked a bill that would require political campaigns to report any offers of foreign assistance to the FBI.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat who serves as the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tried to pass his bill via unanimous consent but Blackburn single-handedly blocked it from being approved.
"We are all for free and fair and honest elections,” she said. “These reporting requirements are overbroad. Presidential campaigns would have to worry about disclosure at a variety of levels. So many different levels. Consider this: vendors that work for a campaign, people that are supplying some kind of voter service to a campaign. ... It would apply to door knockers, it would apply to phone bankers, down to any person who shares their views with a candidate."
Warner said on the Senate floor that Blackburn’s understanding of the bill is “not accurate.”
“The only thing that would have to be reported is if the agent of a foreign government or national offered that something that was already prohibited,” Warner said.
Bill comes after Trump said he would take foreign dirt on opponents:
The bill came up in the Senate after President Trump told ABC News that he would accept dirt on his opponents from foreigners.
Asked by host George Stephanopoulos whether he would accept such information from Russia or China or alert the FBI, Trump said, “I think maybe you do both.”
"I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," Trump continued. "If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent' -- oh, I think I'd want to hear it."
"It's not an interference, they have information -- I think I'd take it," Trump said. "If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI -- if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, 'oh let's call the FBI.' The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that's the way it is. It's called oppo research."
Dems say GOP enabling Trump to break federal law:
After Trump’s comments, the head of the Federal Election Commission issued a statement reminding him and all candidates that accepting anything of value from foreigners is very much illegal.
“Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election,“ wrote FEC chairwoman Ellen Weintraub. “This is not a novel concept.“
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted Blackburn’s decision to block the bill.
"How disgraceful it is,” he said, “that our Republican friends cower before this president when they know that the things he does severely damage democracy."