President Trump says he would take help from a foreign government offering information on an opponent, and might not inform the FBI of offers
WASHINGTON (NBC News) – President Trump is defending his claim made in an interview with ABC News that he would accept damaging information on his 2020 opponents from foreign powers if he received any offers.
“It’s not an interference, they have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI,” Trump told George Stephanopolous.
The comment came as the pair were discussing why the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., didn’t report his conversations with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower to the FBI during the 2016 campaign. The meeting was scheduled after an offer of damaging information on Hillary Clinton was made to Trump Jr.
The president also rejected his own FBI Director, who in Congressional testimony said candidates should alert authorities about campaign contact by foreign governments.
“The FBI Director is wrong,” Mr. Trump said.
The remarks drew widespread condemnation from Congress.
“That’s not the right answer, if a foreign government comes to you as a public official and offers to help your campaign,” Senator Lindsey Graham said in response to the president’s comments. “The right answer is no.”
“Where a foreign government attempts to be involved in an american election that would be simply unthinkable for a candidate to accept that,” said Senator Mitt Romney. “It would strike at the very heart of our democracy.”
Democrats say it is a call for more meddling in the upcoming election in the wake of the Mueller report, which documented Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
“This president is still open for business if the Russians have some negative information about an opponent? That to me is outrageous,” said Senator Dick Durbin.
“It’s a very sad thing,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “He does not know right from wrong.”