It seems like President Donald Trump has not learned his lesson.
Even though his campaign faced a slew of criminal investigations for allegedly conspiring with foreign sources who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump told ABC News in an exclusive interview that he’d have no problems listening to more dirt on his 2020 opponents even if offered by foreign sources.
Speaking to the network’s chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, who traveled with the president to Iowa and back to the White House for an exclusive interview, Trump said that he would probably inform the FBI about overtures from foreign sources in case they wanted to provide dirt on his opponents, but not without listening to them first.
“I think maybe you do both,” Trump told Stephanopoulos when asked the question, suggesting that he would listen to offers as well as inform the FBI about such overtures.
“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”
Trump denounced the idea that accepting information on his opponents by foreign governments amounted to election interference. He said that congressional politicians have accepted dirt on their opponents for decades now, and it is called “opposition research.”
“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it.”
Trump went on to say that there is no need to reject properly conducted opposition research, even if they came from foreign adversaries of the United States. The president said that the FBI is ill-equipped to handle all such cases.
“If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong,” Trump continued.
“But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”
President Trump said he would listen if a foreign government approached him with damaging information about a political rival.
"I think you might want to listen, there isn't anything wrong with listening," he said in an interview with ABC News. https://t.co/xrEzVBc6ga
— CNN (@CNN) June 12, 2019
This pronouncement naturally led the host, Stephanopoulos, to go back to the infamous closed-door Trump Tower meeting where his son, Donald Trump Jr., was offered dirt on Hillary Clinton by a Russian agent. When asked if his son should have accepted the offer, or called the FBI, Trump went on to give reasons as to why he thought that calling the FBI was never a solution. He said that no good ever came of calling the agency.
“I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do,” Trump said. “Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way,” he added.