From today’s NPR News Online:
President Trump has conflated an infamous practice in and among political campaigns — “opposition research” — with foreign election interference like that launched by Russia against the United States in 2016.
Are they the same thing? Is foreign interference just a kind of “oppo research,” as Trump said in an interview with ABC?
The short answer: No. Oppo research is part of politics. But the law prohibits American political campaigns from taking “a contribution or donation of money or any other thing of value” from foreigners. The ban isn’t limited to money, as Justice Department investigators wrote.
The long answer: Trump told ABC News that essentially every political candidate is willing to accept information that could be of use against an opponent.
“You go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it. They always have. And that’s the way it is. It’s called ‘oppo research,’ ” he said.
What’s the difference?
Opposition research is what campaigns and political operatives use against each other. If one candidate running for office dug up a story about something embarrassing her opponent had done, the first candidate might bundle it together and see that it found its way into the newspaper.
In 2016, however, the Russian government also launched a broad wave of “active measures” from outside the U.S. and used sophisticated tools found only in the arsenal of a major government. Its ultimate goal was to help elect Trump.
Trump’s campaign counted on the boost it got from WikiLeaks in 2016, according to the report by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller. Donald Trump Jr. also accepted the offer of a meeting, via intermediaries, to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
Read the complete article here.