- President Donald Trump’s willingness to accept damaging information against his political opponents from foreign powers rankled Democrats running in the 2020 US presidential election.
- Here’s what Trump’s Democratic opponents said of his comments.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump’s willingness to accept damaging information against his political opponents from foreign adversaries rankled Democrats running in the 2020 US presidential election.
In an ABC News interview, Trump said he would consider not going to the FBI if he obtained information against a political opponent from countries like Russia. Trump said the act should not be categorized as election interference and claimed members of Congress “all do it.”
“Oh, I think I’d want to hear it,” Trump said. “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.”
“I’ve seen a lot of things over my life,” Trump added. “I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office.”
Trump’s statement contradicts the advice given by FBI director Christopher Wray during a congressional hearing in May. Wray advised that lawmakers should contact the FBI if they were contacted by a country that intended to influence US elections.
“My view is that if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that’s something the FBI would want to know about,” Wray said at the time.
After ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos informed Trump of Wray’s views, Trump said tersely, “The FBI director is wrong.”
Here’s what Trump’s Democratic opponents said of his comments:
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Sanders, one of the frontrunners in the Democratic primaries, said he was “not shocked” by Trump’s comments and believed House lawmakers “should begin impeachment inquiries” against the president.
“To tell you the truth, I am not exactly shocked,” Sanders said during a CNN interview. “I think we have a president who neither understands the Constitution of the United States [nor] respects the Constitution – somebody who does not believe in the separation of powers, and somebody who thinks he’s above the law.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“The [special counsel’s report] made it clear: A foreign government attacked our 2016 elections to support Trump, Trump welcomed that help, and Trump obstructed the investigation,” Warren said, referring to the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the US presidential election.
“Now, he said he’d do it all over again,” she added in a tweet. “It’s time to impeach Donald Trump.”
Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
Harris suggested Trump’s comments could affect how adversarial nations treat the US.
“China is listening. Russia is listening. North Korea is listening,” the Senator tweeted. “Let’s speak the truth: this president is a national security threat.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
“It’s time for Congress to begin impeachment hearings,” Gillibrand said on Twitter.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
“After seeking and receiving the help of our adversaries to to get elected in 2016, Donald Trump is now essentially calling for an open season on our 2020 elections,” the former Obama Cabinet member said on Twitter. “Once again, he’s putting his interests above our nation’s, and risking and the integrity of our elections.”
Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.
“The definition of collusion from the man guilty of obstruction,” Moulton tweeted.
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California.
Swalwell claimed he would not accept damaging information against his political opponents, including Trump, from a foreign adversary.
“Let me make it clear for [Donald Trump],” Swalwell said on Twitter. “I will never take dirt from a foreign adversary – EVEN if it means beating someone as corrupt as you.”
Swalwell also challenged Republican lawmakers on Trump’s claim that they would have acted in a similar way.
“But Trump said every Congressman would take the help. So, every @HouseGOP member should have to answer this: is Trump right?”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
“Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is talking about conspiring with a foreign government to win an election – again,” Inslee tweeted. “This is dangerous and un-American.”
Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado.
“This is weak and pathetic,” Bennet said in a CNN interview. “This is what he’s been doing since the presidency.”
“He’s effectively inviting foreign interference in our election,” he added.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.
“It’s not ‘oppo research’ – it’s foreign interference in US elections,” Sen. Booker said on Twitter.
“That you would say this is disgraceful,” he wrote. “That you would do it from the Oval Office (yet again) proves you’re unfit for the office you hold.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden.
“President Trump is once again welcoming foreign interference in our elections,” Biden, a Democratic primary frontrunner wrote on Twitter. “This isn’t about politics. It is a threat to our national security. An American President should not seek their aid and abet those who seek to undermine democracy.”
This week Biden and Trump have traded jabs, with Trump calling him “sleepy” and “swampman.”
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke from El Paso, Texas.
“When the President of the United States openly welcomes foreign help to win an election, he threatens the very core of our democracy,” O’Rourke said in a tweet. “If we are to secure justice and ensure this never happens again, we must impeach him.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota
“This is inexcusable,” Sen. Klobuchar said on Twitter. “The President of the United States just effectively gave permission to foreign agents to interfere in our elections.”
“We need my Secure Elections Act and Honest Ads Act passed immediately,” she continued. “The 2020 elections are not secure. Disgraceful.”
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