President Donald J. Trump revealed Wednesday, that he believes there is nothing wrong in accepting information from foreign government entities in election campaigns.
He said if the help was about an election opponent from Russia or China or other foreign governments, he saw no reason to call the FBI if it were to happen again.
“It’s not an interference,” he said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. He described it as “opposition research.” “They have the information — I think I’d take it.” He would call the FBI only “if I thought there was something wrong.”
The president’s bizarre opinion sent a tsunami crashing through the United States’ exceedingly populated presidential election campaign that is rapidly becoming our nation’s major growth industry, heavily financed.
His comments put him at odds not only with Democratic candidates who have made a point of forswearing help from foreign governments as they seek their party’s nomination to challenge him, but also his own FBI Director Christopher S. Wray, who has said politicians in such circumstances should call his agency.
“I don’t think in my whole life, I’ve ever called the FBI in my whole life,” Trump said dismissively. “You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do.”
When Stephanopoulos said that the FBI director has said a candidate should call, Trump retorted, “Give me a break — life doesn’t work that way. The FBI director is wrong.”
Wray is an appointee of the president.
The president’s surprising revelation came on the same day that his son Donald Trump Jr. appeared on Capitol Hill to answer questions from lawmakers.
During the 2016 campaign, the younger Trump, along with Jared Kushner, the future president’s son-in-law, and Paul Manafort, then his campaign manager, met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer after being told she would have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russian and its government’s support for Trump.”
The president has previously defended the decision to take the meeting on the grounds that any campaign would listen to opposition research, even from a foreign adversary.
Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, concluded in his recent report, that Russia made a concerted effort to help Trump get elected and that the campaign benefited from it, but he established no illegal conspiracy between the two.
Trump has sought to characterize Mueller’s report as a complete exoneration. He took it a step further on Wednesday, during an earlier meeting with reporters, when he claimed Mueller’s report actually said that “we rebuffed them” when the Russians tried to help.
Many of the left-oriented commentators on TV, Wednesday night, expressed strong opinions that foreigners with government ties should not be interfering with America’s democracy, founded in the late 1700s.
It was the second time in recent weeks that Trump has publicly chided Wray. After the FBI director rejected the word “spying” to describe the bureau’s investigation of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, the president said, “I thought it was a ridiculous answer.”
Democrats and some Republicans voiced their opinions Wednesday evening, that Trump’s attitude would cause severe damage to his 2020 second presidential term campaign.
But Trump has said he believes that he is so popular, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York city and would pay no price for the crime.
It’s this newspaper’s belief that most Americans forswear against any kind of interference from foreigners in our U.S. elections.