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The Briefing: Chris Collins and his worldwide infamy

WASHINGTON – As a longtime director and shareholder of an Australian company, Rep. Chris Collins has been sort of a worldly guy.

But now the world is focused on him.

"Pro-Trump U.S. congressman indicted for insider trading," the Bangkok Post tells us.

"Indictment of Rep. Chris Collins highlights problems with lawmakers serving on corporate boards," laments the Japan Times.

"Aussie email sank President's pal," tweeted the Australian, the biggest national newspaper down under.

And so on.

Collins, who – with his son Cameron and his son's prospective father-in-law – got himself arrested on insider trading charges Wednesday, is famous across the globe now. (Maybe infamous is a better word.)

And the world does not look kindly on a U.S. congressman who is charged with starting a chain of illegal inside trades with a phone call to his son from the congressional picnic in the White House.

"Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was indicted mid-morning Wednesday on multiple charges related to an alleged insider trading scheme," noted LawZ, a national magazine based in New Delhi, India. "At the time of the alleged scheme, Collins knew he was already under investigation for potential insider trading."

A few thousand miles to the southeast, Australia's Herald Sun published an analysis by Bloomberg's Andrew Martin.

"His indictment suggests recent efforts to head off suspicious activities in Washington have fallen short, and it comes amid a flurry of examinations into politicians and government officials who enrich themselves and their associates, often well within the law's outlines," Martin wrote.

Meantime, the Sydney Morning Herald decided to dig far deeper into Collins' past.

"U.S. congressman Chris Collins has long had loose lips," the Australian paper's Matthew Knott wrote. "In 2009, his bid to become the Republican candidate for governor of New York was derailed when he compared a Democratic state senator to Hitler, Napoleon and the anti-Christ. A few months later, two Republican colleagues accused him of telling a woman at a crowded event: 'I'm sure if you offer someone a lap dance you can find a place to sit' (an accusation he denied)."

Predictably, things were not much better for Collins on this side of the Pacific.

"The arrest of and federal criminal charges today against New York Congressman Chris Collins, his son and his son’s fiancée’s father for insider trading and lying to the FBI are compelling allegations of classic insider trading," wrote Jacob Frankel in Forbes magazine.

Meantime, the Washington Post editorial board won't let Collins off the hook, even if he manages to win in the courtroom.

"Even if Rep. Chris Collins is not guilty of the insider-trading charges federal prosecutors lodged against him Wednesday, the New York Republican’s story would still be a scandal. The words 'how can that be legal?' come to mind in considering that the lawmaker sat on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics, a pharmaceutical company, while holding a position of public trust directly related to Innate’s interests," a Post editorial said Friday morning.

And even Collins' congressional neighbor, Rep. Tom Reed of Corning, took to the airwaves of CNN to pile on, saying lawmakers should not be permitted to sit on the boards of publicly traded companies, as Collins did.

"Obviously, any type of conflict of interest, we need to do a better job in Congress to send the message to the people that we're making sure that the integrity of the House is in place, and that no one is above the law," said Reed, like Collins a Republican.

Of course, Collins – who was eager to seek out national press since becoming the first House member to endorse Donald Trump for president – will probably be keeping his famously loose lips shut for a while on the advice of lawyers.

And as he does so, perhaps he can take solace in the one worldwide media outlet that highlighted Collins' claim of innocence more than the indictment against him.

"New York Rep. Argues Insider Trading Indictment Against Him 'Meritless'," read the headline on Sputnik.

If you've never heard of it, Suptnik is a Buzzfeed-like news site. It is run by the Russian government.

Good reads

The Washington Post reports that Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi is dragging down the party's chances to take back the House in November. ... The New York Times tells us that U.S. officials protected a NATO deal from President Trump. ... Vox says Congress could kill Trump's much-loved "Space Force." ... Rolling Stone explores Trump's strange affinity for asbestos. ... And the Atlantic argues that the white supremacists are winning.

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