GOP congressman says determining if foreign election interference is OK is 'tricky'


Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) refused to condemn the idea of a president asking foreign countries to interfere in U.S. elections.

Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) has previously stated that election interference by a foreign country is wrong, but he was unable to answer if it is acceptable for a president to ask foreign countries to interfere in U.S. elections.

In a video released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress, Budd was asked, "Do you think it's OK for a president to ask foreign countries to interfere in our elections?"

Budd refused to answer, saying instead that "I think that's a tricky question."

The question stems from Donald Trump asking both Ukraine and China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival of Trump's in the 2020 election. National security experts have called Trump's asking Ukraine to investigate both Biden an "unconscionable abuse of power."

Yet Budd is one of several Republican members of Congress who seem flummoxed by the question of whether or not a president should ask foreign countries to interfere in U.S. elections.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) refused six times in two minutes to say asking for foreign interference was wrong.

In October, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) repeatedly refused to answer a similar question. Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) went a step further, both refusing to condemn the action and refusing to answer whether she herself would ask for foreign interference to benefit her upcoming 2020 election.

While Budd considers the question to be tricky, Ellen Weintraub, chair of the Federal Elections Commission, made a definitive statement on the subject in June.

"Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office," Weintraub wrote. "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."

Budd's refusal to condemn such behavior stands in stark contrast to his previous position on foreign election interference. In July 2017, Budd supported sanctions against Russia for that country's interference in the 2016 election.

"I fully support efforts for a robust response to attempts by the Russian Federation to interfere with the American election process and their ongoing occupation of Crimea," Budd said at the time. "If a country doesn’t play by the rules, America should respond, and this bill is an important step in that process."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.