WASHINGTON — Aug 9, 2018, 3:14 PM ET

Dems pounce on GOP lawmaker's downfall, blast 'cesspool'

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Democrats are jumping on a Republican congressman's insider trading indictment to decry a culture of corruption they say President Donald Trump has fostered, a theme they hope will help them seize congressional control in November's elections.

"The brazen corruption, cronyism and incompetence of the Trump Administration is reflected in the conduct of House Republicans," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday in a letter to her Democratic colleagues. She called the GOP-run Congress "a cesspool of self-enrichment, secret money and special interests," and urged Democrats to use their August recess to emphasize that.

Pelosi's statement came a day after Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., was arrested and indicted on securities fraud charges involving his use of inside information about a troubled biotech company. Collins, a stalwart Trump defender and one of his earliest congressional supporters in the 2016 presidential race, has denied wrongdoing.

Hours earlier, a pair of junior Democrats struck the same note in a conference call with reporters.

"The fish rots from the head," said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md. He said Trump is "the most ethically blind president we've ever seen."

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said Trump, Collins and other Republicans have made the U.S. a country "of the rich, by the powerful and for the lobbyists."

Collins' relationship with Trump — and the indictment's assertion that Collins was on White House grounds when he used insider stock information — proved irresistible to Sarbanes.

The Maryland lawmaker said there was "something poetic" that according to the indictment, Collins was attending the White House Congressional Picnic in June 2017 when he learned the company's drug trials had failed and called his son — a fellow investor who also faces charges — to warn him about it.

"It's almost as though he walked into an ethics-free zone when he got to the White House that day," Sarbanes said.

Democrats want to taint the GOP with an aura of corruption and portray it as championing the wealthy elite as part of a campaign-season effort to offer themselves as the party of the people. Underscoring that contrast, Sarbanes and Bustos said Democrats were promising legislation aimed at protecting voters from Republican efforts to making registering and voting harder and beefing up ethics laws covering campaign contributions and financial disclosure by office holders.

Democrats would retake House control if they gain 23 seats in November, which many analysts see as an achievable goal. Their chances of gaining a Senate majority are viewed as smaller.

Attacking Republicans over ethics won't be Democrats' main line of campaign attacks. Trump himself motivates hordes of Democratic voters, as was demonstrated in this week's still-undecided special election in an Ohio congressional district that has been safely in GOP hands for decades.

In addition, Democrats view protecting people's health care and defending the right to abortion as appealing arguments in many of the swing suburban districts that will help determine congressional control. Those issues are likely to be brought into sharper focus with the Senate's upcoming battle over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Democrats will not have a clear field on the issue of ethics.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is facing a harder than expected re-election race this year after the Senate Ethics Committee rebuked him for accepting gifts and using his position to advance the donor's business interests. A criminal case against him was dismissed last year.

Former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and long-time Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., were among several members of both parties who've resigned after charges of sexual harassment.

As recent examples of Trump ethical issues, Bustos cited the ongoing financial fraud trial of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, and questions about the timing of stock sales by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

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  • Corvidae

    In 2006, the GOP was announcing they would tolerate no ethical lapses. Now we've got the GOP standing strong with Jim Jordan, Trump and his family making the Grant Administration look clean as a whistle, at least 10 scams by Zinke, Congressmen doing insider trading and so much more. Is it any wonder one of the first things the GOP tried to do in 2017 was have a secret all-Republican vote to gut the Independent Ethics Committee?

  • Lola Tooley

    Conspiracy and corruption seem to be always with this Administration! Congressman called his son so they did not lose money, insider trading for the Republican Congressman! Russia threatens US. Over new sanctions, yet NO alerts issued to the American People? And now President Trump is talking about a Pardon for Paul Manafort! Come on this President needs to resign, wake up America and call your Legislative Representatives! Enough is Enough!!!

  • O!Hillary

    So, linking all dems to billy clinton, marion berry, and rod blagojevich is required?

  • mikevietvet68/69

    pelosi opened her mouth about this move by collins but her and bohner did the same move about 5/6 years ago,so if you look long and not really so hard you will find they got richer while in office but yet the rich pay no fair share of taxes,heading to the bottom of the swamp at space force warp speed.

  • Mic123

    If anyone really cares they will forward a law that says no one in congress can trade stocks while in office...

    crickets.

  • Mic123

    Wow this is laughable to blame the swamp on Trump. Why isn't there a law to make stock trading by congress illegal? Why did "insider trading" by congress just recently become against the rules....oh yea because THEY MAKE THE LAWS! how else will we get "good" people to run for office unless they can get rich. If the get rid of the second amendment you will all be slaves.

  • John

    I just heard on the radio Trump's Ambassador to the United Nations justifying Saudi Arabian jets blowing up a school bus full of children on the way to summer camp, killing 50 small children.

    American ethics now justify blowing up busloads of small children?

  • John

    What can you expect when the head of the stinking fish - er I mean President -

    - puts his own family into senior positions for which they have no qualifications, and no experience (in most developed counties you go to jail for that).
    - that ran a casino that laundered Russian money for over a decade (and got fined $10 million for it)
    - that fails to pay his contractors
    - that goes into partnership (for Trump Soho) with a Russian Mafia front company
    - who used laundered Russian money to finance his developments - Trump Soho, Trump panama, Florida Mansion, Florida Apartments, trump Soho etc.
    - rented out floor 63a of Trump Tower for years to a Russian money laundering operation.

    - whose Toronto development was financed by Putin's slush fund.
    - who rips off students with a fake university

  • WO5

    Not simply corrupt but the most corrupt administration in history lead by Trump who had turned this into a kleptocracy

  • Sal Monela

    What Collins did was brazen and beyond stupid. What on earth was he thinking?

  • tet1953

    Where's the story on the Nunes tape?

  • Roger

    People liken trump to HItler. That’s probably on the harsh side. He’s just more like a third world dictator that uses his position to enrich himself and family and friends. Like Noriega.

    Aren’t we lucky?

  • sdoubledub

    Gee, who would have ever thought that a politician would line their own pockets. They are ALL shady, regardless of the letter next to their name

  • cvr527

    Pot calling the kettle black.

  • Misty Mac 💯

    "The fish rots from the head," said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md
    _____________________________________
    I made that comment a little while ago, and my comment was deleted. Still true.

  • archie7699

    Trump has nothing to do with this insider trading, but it's all his fault. Got it, Sarbanes. Let's bring up every Democrat who got in trouble between 2009 and 2017 and blame Obama for that. Sounds to me like John has a rotting fish head for a brain.

  • LibertyIsGreat

    I am sure liberal media reported by hinting Obama was responsible for ceasepool of Dems Congress

  • rightened

    Is there ANYONE with a Trump association that isn't into anything shady?

    And Pence doesn't count. He's along for the ride, waiting for the indictments, the impeachments and the removal from office to achieve what he could never achieve running for the Presidential seat on his own.

  • Ctrygrl

    Well he did see that things would go much easier with such an unethical president. This is no more far fetched than linking Danny O'Connor to Nancy Pelosi.

  • WorkingClass

    Oh, please! I'm no fan of Trump, but Congress was corrupt long before he took office and will continue to be corrupt long after he's gone. It's not a GOP or Dem thing, it's a GREED thing.

  • Robert

    The difference between the Obama and Trump presidencies is that under Obama, the probability of being charged with a crime was inversely proportional to the amount donated to the Clinton Foundation.

  • Jukka-Emil Vanaja

    Trump ethics is an interesting, definition-defying rock. It is dense and heavy to the point that it will drag to the bottom anything linked to it, yet link one miscreant and corruptionist to it after another, and somehow still their carreers keep going unsunked. No matter of the depths they've gone to.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    "GOP Rep. Chris Collins used campaign funds to pay legal bills for insider-trading investigations"

    No surprise, more corruption from the GOPers. There seems to be no limit to what they will they use campaign funds. I wouldn't be surprised to find he also bought a portrait of himself with campaign funds like someone else.

    Oh wait, he paid for that portrait with funds from his charity. My bad.

  • whitepine

    Where us the story about the 3 friends of Trump running the VA?

  • James Coletrane

    Democrats need to realize that voters don't care about Trump and his lack of morals or ethics. They want jobs, higher salaries and take home pay and a strong stock market. Outside of that Trump can really do anything he wants.

  • Kenneth Wiezer

    Where is ALEX JONES? America needs truth news!!!

  • Leo Marvin

    The Democrats have no platform and no ideas to speak of, other than the socialist idiocy they seem to be embracing.

  • gordo53

    This should be interesting. There are more congresspeople involved in insider trading than not. That's been the case for decades. It is one very common way that "insiders" curry favor with Congress. Somebody "dropped a dime" on this guy. The Ds should start looking over their shoulders as you can bet the farm that retribution is on the way. Should be entertaining if nothing else.

  • logical

    Dems are really counting on people voting against Trump due to personal dislike rather than policy. I wonder how that will go in 2020... in 2016 it seems like it may have actually helped him.

  • RightOrWrong

    "Democrats link congressman's indictment to Trump ethics"
    Of course they do. It's all they've got is lies and distractions.

  • Elroy

    Money has no party affiliation.