Trump sparks furor with election interference remarks

President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates 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 GrahamGOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions 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 RomneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Democratic challenger leads Tillis by 1 point in North Carolina poll The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider? 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 CollinsMaine House speaker announces challenge to Collins Senate seat GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE (R-Maine), who is running for reelection in a state won by 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Trump says he's not prepared to lose in 2020 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 StephanopoulosTrump to appear on 'Meet the Press' for first time as president Trump shows off Air Force One model in Oval Office The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Tensions flare after Iran shoots down US drone 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 is the least electable candidate — here's why Top Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann lands book deal Trump to appear on 'Meet the Press' for first time as president MORE, an action that led to the appointment of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report 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 Warren2020 Democrat: 'My DM's are open and I actually read & respond' Group of wealthy Americans write open letter asking to be taxed more Inslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandJuan Williams: Warren on the rise 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown 2020 Democrats vow to expand abortion access at Planned Parenthood event MORE (D-N.Y.) doubled down on their calls to impeach Trump in the wake of his interview; meanwhile, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown 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 PelosiThis week: Congress set for clash on Trump's border request Judd Gregg: An Irish friend and wisdom Juan Williams: Warren on the rise 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 SchumerMcConnell-backed Super PAC says nominating Roy Moore would be 'gift wrapping' seat to Dems McConnell vows to 'vigorously' oppose Moore's Senate bid Pelosi: Trump delay on Harriet Tubman is 'an insult to the hopes of millions' 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 TillisDemocratic challenger leads Tillis by 1 point in North Carolina poll GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 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."