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Trump defends remarks about accepting information from foreign government

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE on Thursday defended his comment that he would listen if a foreign entity offered damaging information on a political opponent, equating it to his contacts with foreign governments as part of his role as president.

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In a series of tweets, the president sought to downplay the significance of his comment a day earlier to ABC News, which critics argued invited a foreign power to interfere in the 2020 election and some Democrats highlighted as reason to begin impeachment proceedings.

Trump first suggested listening to damaging information from a foreign actor was equivalent to holding diplomatic meetings with foreign heads of state, while later arguing Democrats were guilty of improper contacts.

"I meet and talk to 'foreign governments' every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Whales, 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!'" Trump tweeted.

"Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings?" he continued. "How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again."

Trump then blamed the press for not playing the entirety of his answer, which was broadcast on Wednesday night in an interview with ABC News.

 

 

 

Trump wasn't discussing conversations during state visits with allied governments in the interview with ABC's George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters Pelosi: White House made 'unacceptable changes' to testing language during negotiations on coronavirus stimulus Infectious disease expert calls White House advisers herd immunity claims 'pseudoscience' MORE, but instead was talking about a situation in which a potential rival foreign government offered more clandestine information on a political opponent.

Trump told the ABC host that he would not call the FBI in such a situation, even though Trump's own FBI director has said that is the right protocol for such a situation.

Told that by Stephanopoulos, Trump said the FBI director was wrong.

"I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening," Trump said in the interview. "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 on Thursday morning attempted to deflect attention to Democrats by alleging his campaign was spied on and that Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump slight against Gold Star families adds to military woes Hillicon Valley: Twitter tightens rules before election | Intelligence chief briefed lawmakers on foreign influence threats | Democrats launch inquiry into Pentagon's moves on a national 5G network Senate Democrat raises concerns around Universal Health Services breach MORE (D-Va.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGreenwald slams Schiff over Biden emails on Fox Hillicon Valley: DOJ accuses Russian hackers of targeting 2018 Olympics, French elections | Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats | House Democrats slam FCC over 'blatant attempt to help' Trump Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats MORE (D-Calif.) had improper contacts with Russian nationals.

A spokeswoman for Warner responded that she had "NO idea" what Trump was referring to.

Text messages leaked last year that showed Warner attempted to contact the author of a 2016 dossier containing salacious allegations about Trump's ties to Russia, but Senate Intelligence Committee members said they took no issue with the effort.

It's unclear what interaction Trump was referring to with Schiff, but the congressman reportedly had contact with Russian pranksters in 2017 purporting to have salacious photos of Trump. A spokesman for Schiff said when the call was first reported that the House Intelligence Committee informed law enforcement of the conversation.

Trump's remarks to the ABC host have been seen by some as an invitation to foreign governments to seek to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. An ABC News White House correspondent responded that the network did not edit the president's response, and an unedited transcript of Trump's remarks was published later Thursday.

The comments also come on the heels of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE wrapping up a nearly two year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The special counsel did not establish a conspiracy between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, but documented "numerous links" and contacts between the two parties.

A growing number of Democratic lawmakers have called to start to impeachment proceedings against Trump, citing Mueller's findings.

Trump's apparent openness to hearing from foreigners in the 2020 election exasperated Democrats, many of whom condemned the president's remarks and some of whom renewed calls for impeachment.

"The Russians attacked our elections, and @realDonaldTrump is giving them the green light to do it again," Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a Senate vote | Pelosi, Mnuchin see progress, but no breakthrough | Trump, House lawyers return to court in fight over financial records Progress, but no breakthrough, on coronavirus relief McConnell says he would give Trump-backed coronavirus deal a vote in Senate MORE (D-Calif.) tweeted.

"It is shocking to hear the President say outright that he is willing to put himself in debt to a foreign power... not to mention the foreign interference in an American election part," House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMarijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted.