House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Sunday that Congress should take up legislation banning political campaigns from working with foreign governments in an effort to influence U.S. elections.
The comments from Schiff, a vocal critic of the Trump administration, comes just a few days after President Trump’s personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, threatened – and then abandoned – a plan to travel to the Ukraine to push the Eastern European country to open investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Giuliani’s planned trip drew sharp outrage from Democrats who said it was an overt attempt to recruit foreign help to influence a U.S. election. Biden, who currently leads the Democratic presidential polls, is seen as Trump’s biggest threat in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.
“Going after his son is just a method of going after someone the president believes is his most formidable opponent,” Schiff said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “So, yes, let the president go after him, but don't seek the help of a foreign government in your election.”
Giuliani had said last week that he would travel to Kiev in coming days to urge the government to investigate the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's recently concluded probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and the involvement of former Vice President Joe Biden's son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.
The president’s attorney, however, said on Saturday he would not be travelling to Ukraine, citing concerns about who he would be dealing with there.
"The meeting would have accomplished little and may be in the hands of those who might misrepresent it," Giuliani said Saturday in a statement.
Giuliani's planned trip, first reported by The New York Times, would have been the most high-profile effort yet by Republicans to call attention to growing talking points in conservative circles. They are trying to undermine the special counsel's investigation, call into question the case against Manafort, Trump's imprisoned former campaign chairman, and wound Joe Biden.
Trump and Giuliani have urged scrutiny of Hunter Biden and have questions about whether Joe Biden helped oust a Ukrainian prosecutor whose office was first investigating the oligarch behind the company that paid Hunter Biden. Some Trump allies have suggested they can tarnish Joe Biden with questions about corruption, founded or not, much like they did to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Schiff on Sunday added that lawmakers need to consider legislation that would ban any future coordination between political campaigns and foreign governments, in the wake of Mueller’s report finding no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.
“If this isn't criminal, and Bob Mueller said he could not prove all the elements of a crime, then maybe we need to change the elements of that crime,” Schiff said. “Because we cannot make this the new norm, that if you can't win an election on your own, it's fine to seek help from a foreign power.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.