Trump Responds to Criticism Over Comments About Accepting Information From Foreign Government

June 13, 2019 Updated: June 13, 2019

President Donald Trump has responded to criticism over remarks he made during an interview where he said he would accept information about political opponents if offered by a foreign government.

Trump made the comment during an interview broadcast on June 12 with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, when asked whether his campaign would accept the information about political opponents from foreign governments like China or Russia or pass them to the FBI.

“I think maybe you do both,” Trump replied. “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘we have information on your opponent’—oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

Stephanopoulos then asked, “You want that kind of interference in our elections?” Trump replied, “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—if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘Oh, let’s call the FBI…’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it,” Trump explained.

He added, “But you go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

Trump’s frank response to Stephanopoulos’s question drew criticism from many prominent Democrats.

Trump posted a series of tweets in response to the criticism on June 13.

“I meet and talk to “foreign governments” every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Wales, 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!” Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings?” he wrote.

“How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again. With that being said, my full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters,” he added.

He then gave instances of when Democratic congressmen have used opposition research provided by foreigners against him without immediately contacting the FBI.

“When Senator spoke at length, and in great detail, about extremely negative information on me, with a talented entertainer purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he immediately call the FBI? NO, in fact he didn’t even tell the Senate Intelligence Committee of which he is a member,” Trump wrote.

“When took calls from another person, also very successfully purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he call the FBI, or even think to call the FBI? NO!” he added.

In 2018, leaked text messages show how Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, attempted to contact British former spy Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier that fueled two years of wild speculation in the media about alleged ties between Trump, his associates, and Russia.

Warner was accused of having extensive contact with a Russian oligarch lobbyist, Adam Waldman, who was offering him access to Steele, reported Fox News at the time.

Meanwhile, Trump’s reference to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in the same tweet is likely referring to the Democratic congressman’s contact last year with Russian pranksters, who pretended to be Russian officials offering him salacious photos of Trump. The audio of the phone call was posted to YouTube.

Trump also referred to the Democrats’ use of information compiled by Steele against him during the 2016 presidential election. At the time, Steele was employed by Fusion GPS, which had been hired by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton 2016 presidential campaign—through their law firm, Perkins Coie—to produce the dossier on Trump.

The dossier’s still-unverified claims served as the foundation of the Trump–Russia narrative generated by legacy media outlets, anti-Trump politicians, and Obama administration officials. But none of the 103 key allegations contained in the Steele dossier were verified by special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation.

“The fact is that the phony Witch Hunt is a giant scam where Democrats and other really bad people, SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN! They even had an “insurance policy” just in case Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats lost their race for the Presidency! This is the biggest & worst political scandal in the history of the United States of America. Sad!” Trump said.

The Justice Department is currently investigating the origins of the 2016 counterintelligence probe into Trump campaign as well as the FBI’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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