Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins, center, leaves federal court, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, in New York. Rep. Collins of western New York state has been indicted on charges that he used inside information about a biotechnology company to make illicit stock trades (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Democrats link congressman's indictment to Trump ethics

August 09, 2018 - 10:14 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are linking a Republican congressman's insider trading indictment to 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 fish rots from the head," Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., told reporters Thursday in a conference call. He added that Trump is "the most ethically blind president we've ever seen."

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

Bustos and Sarbanes, the type of younger Democrats to whom party leaders are giving more exposure, spoke a day after Collins, R-N.Y., was arrested and indicted on charges of making illegal stock trades using inside information about a biotech company. Collins has denied wrongdoing.

Collins was one of Trump's earliest supporters in his 2016 presidential run and has remained a stalwart defender of the president.

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

Sarbanes 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.

As other 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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