President Trump said in an interview that he would accept foreign information on political opponents, saying “they all do it.”
Mr. Trump told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that the origin of opposition research would not overly concern him and that he may or may not go to the FBI if such an offer came from abroad.
“Someone comes up and says ‘hey, I have information on your opponent.’ You call the FBI?” he said in a video clip posted Wednesday by ABC News. “Give me a break. Life doesn’t work like that.”
He denied Mr. Stephanopoulos’s claim that taking information from foreigners constitutes interference in U.S. elections.
“It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it,” he said.
At one point, Mr. Stephanopoulos specified that the information came from a hostile nation such as Russia or China and asked Mr. Trump whether he’d take the information or report the foreign feelers to the FBI, he replied “maybe you do both.”
“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” he continued. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”
One of the central claims Democrats have made about the 2016 presidential election is that Russia tried to interfere to help Mr. Trump. Some have gone so far as to claim Russia’s involvement delegitimizes Mr. Trump’s presidency, though there is no evidence on what effect Moscow’s efforts had and former special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Kremlin operatives and the Trump campaign.
Indeed, the notorious Steele dossier makes it explicit in its sourcing that Russian officials were the source of some of the more salacious dirt being spread about Mr. Trump.
In his Stephanopoulos interview, Mr. Trump didn’t specify the Steele dossier but argued that all politicians at least listen to foreign sources of dirt on political rivals for opposition research.
If “you talk honestly to Congressmen, they all do it. They always have,” he said.
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