- In a new interview, President Donald Trump said he would consider not going to the FBI if he obtained damaging information against a political opponent from a foreign adversary like Russia.
- “I think you might want to listen,” Trump told the ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview, a portion of which aired Wednesday. “There’s nothing wrong with listening.”
- Trump described the information as opposition research and offered a hypothetical scenario that suggested members of Congress “all do it.”
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In a new interview, President Donald Trump said he would consider not going to the FBI if he obtained damaging information against a political opponent from a foreign adversary like Russia.
“I think maybe you do both – I think you might want to listen,” Trump told the ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview, a portion of which aired Wednesday. “There’s nothing wrong with listening.”
“Oh, I think I’d want to hear it,” Trump added. “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 described the information as opposition research and gave a hypothetical scenario suggesting members of Congress “all do it.”
“OK, let’s put yourself in a position: You’re a congressman,” Trump told Stephanopoulos. “Somebody comes up and says, ‘Hey, I have information on your opponent.’ Do you call the FBI?”
“I think if it’s coming from Russia, you do,” Stephanopoulos responded.
“I’ll tell you what,” Trump said. “I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. 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 differentiated his hypothetical example from that of former Vice President Al Gore. In 2000, Gore turned over an illegally obtained dossier pertaining to George W. Bush to the FBI amid the presidential election.
“Well that’s different, a stolen briefing book,” Trump said. “This isn’t a stolen … this is somebody that said, ‘We have information on your opponent.'”
“Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break,” Trump added. “Life doesn’t work that way.”
Trump echoed the same sentiment of his son Donald Trump Jr., who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday about the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russia. In an email on June 3, 2016, the younger Trump was offered damaging campaign information on the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from a business associate with ties to a Russian oligarch.
He responded to the email with, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
Trump’s statement contradicts the advice given by FBI Director Christopher Wray during a congressional hearing in May. “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.
Watch the interview clip below:
EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Trump tells @GStephanopoulos he wouldn't necessarily alert the FBI if approached by foreign figures with information on his 2020 opponent: "It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it." https://t.co/yWRxMOaFqW pic.twitter.com/qwLw53s5yc
— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2019
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