President Trump told ABC News‘s George Stephanopoulos in an Oval Office interview that he might not call the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his rivals in the upcoming 2020 election.
While initially suggesting it would be absurd to call the FBI instead of taking the information, Trump said “I think maybe you do both,” adding “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening.”
“If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”
Trump also pushed back on the notion that opposition research provided by a foreign government would be considered election interference – saying “It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” adding “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong.”
President Trump lamented the attention on his son, Donald Trump Jr., for his role in the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. Stephanopoulos asked whether Trump Jr. should have taken the Russians’ offer for “dirt” on then-candidate Hillary Clinton to the FBI.
“Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,’ do you call the FBI?” Trump responded.
“I’ll tell you what, 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, you do whatever you do,” Trump continued. “Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.” –ABC News
When Stephanopoulos pointed out that FBI Director Christopher Wray said that a candidate should call the FBI in regards to foreign-sourced oppo-research, Trump said: “The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn’t happen like that in life,” adding “Now maybe it will start happening, maybe today you’d think differently.”
Trump then claimed that “if you go talk honestly to Congressmen, they all do it, they always have,” adding “That’s the way it is, it’s called oppo-research.”