Tag: Defense of the Day

Alternative Fact: Just Oppo Research

Alternative fact: “Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information.” Trump at a joint press conference with French President Macron in Paris.

Real fact: There is an interesting article on Politico from someone who actually conducted oppo research.  Obtaining private (and anything so sensitive that it needs to be discussed with you instead of your dad’s assistant is somewhat obviously not public record type stuff) information from frenemy nation governments.

When a public investigation in the Ukraine revealed payments to Manford, receiving information from a public investigation … well, using it might be sleazy politics (in that respect, Trump is not wrong … politics is not nice). But buying a computer on sale from a well known retail store isn’t illegal whereas purchasing one for half retail from the back of some guy’s van behind the Tower City is probably going to garner a receiving stolen goods charge.

There was a car theft ring in Pennsylvania that obtained blank titles from Harrisburg. Purchasing a car with a valid title from a used car dealer is not a suspicious circumstance. Victims were out money because the cars were returned to their rightful owners, but they were not charged with a crime because nothing about their scenario seemed suspicious.

The item itself, nor its provenance , are not the only considerations — how suspicious a reasonable person would have been of the circumstances is the distinction between a criminal activity and being a victim of a crime.

Free Speech

As the “defense of the day” goes, free speech is about the worst claim to make when accused of colluding with a foreign government to undermine an American election. Not to lead a parade of horribles, but if accepting stolen information on a political opponent is free speech … why wouldn’t accepting IP garnered through industrial espionage equally protected?

If you go for crazy extrapolation — Citizens United tells me that spending money is ‘speech’, so I should be able to buy a Rolex and laptop from the back of some dodgy van downtown. Free speech, ya know.

That’s what we do in business

The most telling phrase from Trump Jr’s interview with Hannity last night — “That’s what we do in business”. He continued to explain that they take whatever information is out there and then decide how to use it. Illegally garnered information about a politician that can be used to influence the decision process to TrumpCo’s advantage? He may love it, but it’s also called blackmail. And is illegal. A competitor’s business plans or IP gathered through corporate espionage? Hiring former employees of competitors for their inside knowledge or sales leads? I’m not saying I doubt that is how Trump does business, but it hardly paints a flattering picture of the organisation. And I hope that a head of the company broadcasting the company’s willingness to use illegally gathered information to the detriment of their competitors is sufficient to bring an investigation into the company’s operations as well.