- Trump defends comment about accepting information on election rival from foreign powers
Trump Defends Comment About Accepting Information On Election Rival From Foreign Powers
US President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his comment that he would listen if a foreign entity offered damaging information on a political opponent, equating it to his contacts with foreign governments as part of his role as president
In a series of tweets, the president sought to downplay the significance of his comment a day earlier to ABC News, which critics argued invited a foreign power to interfere in the 2020 election and some Democrats highlighted as reason to begin impeachment proceedings.
Trump first suggested listening to damaging information from a foreign actor was equivalent to holding diplomatic meetings with foreign heads of state, while later arguing Democrats were guilty of improper contacts.
"I think you might want to listen... there's nothing wrong with listening," Trump said Wednesday when asked by ABC news what he would do if a country such as Russia or China offered him such information.
He denied the suggestion that such information would amount to foreign interference in a US election.
"I meet and talk to 'foreign governments' every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Whales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about 'Everything!'" Trump tweeted.
"Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings?" he continued. "How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again." Trump then blamed the press for not playing the entirety of his answer, which was broadcast on Wednesday night in an interview with ABC News.
"I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening," Trump said in the interview. "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 on Thursday attempted to deflect attention to Democrats by alleging his campaign was spied on and that Senator Mark Warner , a Democrat, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff , another Democrat, had improper contacts with Russian nationals.
Text messages leaked last year that showed Warner attempted to contact the author of a 2016 dossier containing salacious allegations about Trump's ties to Russia, but Senate Intelligence Committee members said they took no issue with the effort.
It's unclear what interaction Trump was referring to with Schiff, but the congressman reportedly had contact with Russian pranksters in 2017 purporting to have salacious photos of Trump. A spokesman for Schiff said when the call was first reported that the House Intelligence Committee informed law enforcement of the conversation.
Trump's remarks to the ABC host have been seen by some as an invitation to foreign governments to seek to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. An ABC News White House correspondent responded that the network did not edit the president's response.
A growing number of Democratic lawmakers have called to start to impeachment proceedings against Trump, citing Mueller's findings.
"The Russians attacked our elections, and @realDonaldTrump is giving them the green light to do it again," Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, tweeted.
"It is shocking to hear the President say outright that he is willing to put himself in debt to a foreign power... not to mention the foreign interference in an American election part," House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, also a Democrat, tweeted.