'I think I'd take it': Trump says he might not go to the FBI if a foreign government like Russia offered him dirt on political opponents
- President Donald Trump said he would consider not going to the FBI if he obtained opposition research against a political opponent from a foreign adversary like Russia.
- “I think you might want to listen,” Trump said to ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview, a portion of which aired on 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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President Donald Trump said he would consider not going to the FBI if he obtained opposition research against a political opponent from a foreign adversary like Russia.
“I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen,” Trump said to ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview, a portion of which aired on 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 said to Stephanopoulos during an interview. “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. I’ve seen a lot of things over my life,” Trump said. “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 with that of former Vice President Al Gore. In 2000, Gore turned over anillegally-obtained dossier pertaining to George W. Bush to the FBI amid the presidential election.
“Well that’s different, a stolen briefing book,” Trump said of the incident. “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 anemail on June 3, 2016, Trump Jr. was offered damaging campaign information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from a business associate with ties to a Russian oligarch.
Trump Jr. reportedly 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.”
Watch the interview clip below:
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