Trump sparks furor with election interference remarks

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix MORE is facing a political firestorm over his suggestion that he would accept dirt on a political opponent from a foreign government.

Democrats have lashed out at Trump’s comments to ABC News that if information was offered he would “take it,” while Republicans showed obvious discomfort with the president’s remarks.

“I think that’s wrong. That’s a mistake,” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate braces for a nasty debt ceiling fight Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor How Sen. Graham can help fix the labor shortage with commonsense immigration reform MORE (R-S.C.), a frequent Trump defender, told reporters. “I’ve been consistent on this. If a public official is approached by a foreign government offering anything of value ... the right answer is 'no.'”

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Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTransit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor MORE (R-Utah) said accepting information from a foreign government with the intent to meddle in the electoral process would be “unthinkable.”

“It would be totally inappropriate and it would strike at the heart of our democracy,” said Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee for president who has memorably clashed with Trump.

“I’ve run for Senate twice, I’ve run for governor once, I’ve run for president twice, so far as I know we never received any information from any foreign government … We would have immediately informed the FBI,” Romney said.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTransit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - Infrastructure vote fails; partisan feud erupts over Jan. 6 panel Senate falling behind on infrastructure MORE (R-Maine), who is running for reelection in a state won by 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Shontel Brown gaining ground against Nina Turner in Ohio: poll Biden hits trail for McAuliffe in test of his political brand MORE, said the “proper action” for Trump or anyone else when a hostile foreign government offers information is to “call the FBI.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray has said that a politician offered dirt on a rival candidate from a foreign source should tell the FBI.

But when ABC's George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosSullivan: Comments by North Korea's Kim an 'interesting signal' Facebook VP says 2-year suspension of Trump from platform 'justified' Commerce secretary on cyberattacks against corporations: 'This is the reality' MORE pointed out Wray’s remarks, Trump said that “the FBI director is wrong.”

“I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening,” he told ABC. “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.”

Wray was appointed to the FBI and confirmed by the Senate after Trump fired FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom MORE, an action that led to the appointment of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE.

Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation into interference in the 2016 election did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

However, the special counsel's final report detailed various instances of Russia attempting to interfere in the 2016 election and documented “numerous links” and conversations between Trump campaign officials and Moscow.

Democrats are using Mueller’s findings to make the case for their own investigations into Trump and his administration.

Trump’s remarks have poured fuel onto calls from Democrats for Trump to be impeached, a headache for Democratic leaders who want to avoid beginning an inquiry.

Both Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Biden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power Senators hail 'historic changes' as competing proposals to tackle military sexual assault advance Overnight Defense: Military justice overhaul included in defense bill | Pentagon watchdog to review security of 'nuclear football' | Pentagon carries out first air strike in Somalia under Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) doubled down on their calls to impeach Trump in the wake of his interview; meanwhile, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law 'CON laws' limit the health care competition Biden aims to deliver JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians MORE (D-Calif.) called him a “national security threat."

“China is listening. Russia is listening. North Korea is listening,” Harris wrote in a tweet. “Let’s speak the truth: this president is a national security threat.”

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe House Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Yellen to Congress: Raise the debt ceiling or risk 'irreparable harm' MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday said Trump’s remarks showed he has “no ethical sense” but said it did not move the House toward impeachment.

“He does not know the difference between right and wrong and that's probably the nicest thing I can say about him,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel MORE (D-N.Y.) during a floor speech said Trump’s remarks are “undemocratic, un-American, disgraceful.”

Trump tried to clean up his comments during a string of tweets on Thursday morning, suggesting that listening to damaging information from a foreign actor was equivalent to holding diplomatic meetings with foreign heads of state.

Though he didn’t point out a specific dispute over how his comments were aired, Trump also argued that “my full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters.”

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 election.

In addition to the presidential election, Republicans are defending roughly two dozen Senate seats and trying to win back the House. Trump’s comments could put pressure on GOP incumbents to say whether or not they would accept information from a foreign government.

“If I had knowledge that it was from someone from a foreign country my first call would be to the FBI,” said Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenators hail 'historic changes' as competing proposals to tackle military sexual assault advance Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Overnight Defense: Military justice overhaul included in defense bill | Pentagon watchdog to review security of 'nuclear football' | Pentagon carries out first air strike in Somalia under Biden MORE (R-N.C.), who is up for reelection.

Asked if to his knowledge he had ever accepted information from a foreign government, Tillis added, “absolutely not."