It should be underlined, though, that the possibilities for foreign interference in US elections is a much bigger phenomenon than simply this sort of organized-crime style arm twisting by a president.
The Republican-majority Supreme Court has gutted campaign finance law and has allowed essentially anonymous money to flood into campaigns. The Roberts court, in striking down McCutcheon v. FEC”> in McCutcheon v. FEC limits on individual spending on campaigns, opened the door to Donald Trump to simply buy the 2016 election. If he had tried to do that in the 1990s he’d have gone to jail just for that infraction.
In addition, since the money is anonymous, it can be foreign. I wrote on this issue earlier,
You really do have to be kind of crazy to do all the bowing, scraping and ring-kissing that goes with getting a presidential nomination — especially in the fringes of the far-right Republican extremists! Anyway, happy anniversary to the Koch brothers, who are even crazier than the candidates if they think their support is a plus with voters:
Four leading Republican presidential prospects are expected to appear this weekend in the California desert before an exclusive gathering of rich conservatives convened by the Koch brothers’ political operation, several sources tell POLITICO.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin received coveted invitations to speak to the vaunted network assembled by the billionaire industrialist megadonors Charles and David Koch, the sources said.
The meeting, set to be held at a Palm Springs hotel, is the annual winter gathering of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit group that oversees the network of fiscally conservative groups formed with help from the Kochs and their operatives.
None of the White House prospects invited to the meeting this weekend responded to questions about whether they planned to attend and, if so, what they planned to discuss. A spokesman for Freedom Partners declined to comment on the function, which is closed to the press.
It comes at a pivotal time for both the Koch network, which has become increasingly involved in partisan politics, and for the sprawling Republican presidential field, which some party insiders fear could be headed for a chaotic and costly primary.
Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, both of whom are eyeing runs of their own, are considered the favorites of rich Republican donors from the party’s establishment wing, who traditionally have exerted great sway over presidential nominating fights.
But neither is necessarily a perfect fit for the donors and operatives in the Kochs’ expanding donor network, where small government, free-market policies tend to be valued over aggressive stances on military intervention or social issues. That could present an opening for prospective presidential hopefuls who have emphasized fiscal issues more than foreign policy, like Paul, Walker and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence is not expected in Palm Springs this weekend. But he has spoken at past gatherings and is considered a favorite of the Kochs’ allies, as is Walker, whose fight against his state’s public employee unions over collective-bargaining rights made him something of a test case for the expansion of the Koch network and its most robust political arm, Americans for Prosperity.