Trump sparks furor with election interference remarks

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems 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 GrahamTwo-thirds of Republicans support 'red flag' gun laws: NPR poll Red flag laws won't stop mass shootings — ending gun-free zones will Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid 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 RomneyA US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces 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 CollinsCook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (R-Maine), who is running for reelection in a state won by 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe exhaustion of Democrats' anti-Trump delusions Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado Soft levels of support mark this year's Democratic primary 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 StephanopoulosBret Baier calls out Trump for lashing out at Fox News polls: 'Fox has not changed' Trump allies defend attacks on Cummings amid Democratic denunciations De Blasio: Democratic debates should address 'why did we lose and what do we do differently' 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 Comey3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Barr predicts progressive prosecutors will lead to 'more crime, more victims' James Comey shows our criminal justice system works as intended MORE, an action that led to the appointment of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony 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 Ann WarrenHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden Panel: Jill Biden's campaign message MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandCastro qualifies for next Democratic primary debates The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries 2020 Democrats react to NYPD firing of officer in Garner case: 'Finally' MORE (D-N.Y.) doubled down on their calls to impeach Trump in the wake of his interview; meanwhile, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Warren offers plan to repeal 1994 crime law authored by Biden Sanders leads Democratic field in Colorado poll 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 PelosiJohnson eyes Irish border in Brexit negotiations Mueller report fades from political conversation Five key players in Trump's trade battles 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJohnson eyes Irish border in Brexit negotiations Lewandowski on potential NH Senate run: If I run, 'I'm going to win' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid 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 TillisThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Gun reform groups to pressure GOP senators with rallies in all 50 states To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies 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."