President Trump says he might accept dirt from another country on his potential Democratic rivals if offered, raising new questions and concerns about foreign influence on American elections.
"It's not an interference, they have information — I think I'd take it," Trump said. "If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong."
Trump made the comments in an Oval Office interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, after being pressed about the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 with Russians and Trump officials. Ahead of that meeting, which former special counsel Robert Mueller probed, the Trump campaign was offered damaging information on Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton.
In the ABC interview, the president claimed information offered by a foreign government is the equivalent "oppo research" that's traditional in American political campaigns. However, such information does not typically come from foreign powers that may be seeking to impact the election results and sow discord — as Russia did in 2016. Trump's own handpicked FBI Director Christopher Wray has said the FBI should be informed of such gestures.
"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 said. "Oh, give me a break – life doesn't work that way."
Trump also said he might both accept the information and call the FBI. But the president was clear he disagreed with comments Wray has made to Congress that "the FBI would want to know about" any efforts from abroad to interfere or influence in U.S. elections.
"The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn't happen like that in life," Trump said. "Now maybe it will start happening, maybe today you'd think differently."
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