Thursday, 19 September, 2019

Nothing wrong with accepting dirt from foreign government on opponents

Hope Hicks Resigns CREDIT J. Scott Applewhite AP REX Shutterstock
Patty Aguilar | 15 June, 2019, 01:43

"There isn't anything wrong with listening".

President Donald Trump's assertion that he would be open to accepting a foreign power's help in his 2020 campaign ricocheted through Washington on Thursday, with Democrats condemning it as a call for further election interference and Republicans struggling to defend his comments.

In an interview aired late Wednesday by ABC News television, Trump was asked about taking help similar to the research offered by Russian operatives to his 2016 campaign about rival Hillary Clinton.

"If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said, ] "We have information on your opponent" - Oh, I think I'd want to hear it", Mr. Trump continued, adding that "it's not an interference".

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont called Trump's statement that his campaign would accept foreign opposition research "so wrong and so dangerous" and renewed calls for the Republican-controlled Senate to take up legislation to safeguard USA elections. "Oh, I think I'd want to hear it".

"The FBI director is wrong", Trump said when reminded of Wray's statement.

Filled with explosive and in some cases apparently completely erroneous claims about Trump's links to Russian Federation, the report was eventually handed over to U.S. law enforcement, adding fuel to a massive official probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

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The president's remarks came on the same day that his son Donald Jr was grilled by United States senators about his contacts with Russians.

Still, Trump said he wouldn't automatically report a foreign government's actions to U.S. law enforcement - something he says he's never considered doing in his lifetime.

Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden said that in his latest remarks Trump is "welcoming" foreign interference in USA voting.

Some Democrats suspect Trump Jr may have lied in previous testimony in 2017 about what he and his father knew about the now-infamous meeting, as well as other connections between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Announcing his support for starting such an inquiry, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said, "We must stop this lawless president from tearing down our democracy".

ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Trump in an interview Wednesday what he would do if someone from a foreign government came to him with information on an opponent, which a Russian lawyer reportedly did with his son and some of his campaign officials in 2016.

"I think my view is that if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation-state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation-state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that is something that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would want to know about", Wray said. "Life doesn't work like that".

During an interview on Fox News, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley accused Trump's critics of hypocrisy, pointing to the activities of former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. He documented extensive contacts between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian Federation, but did not establish that members of the campaign conspired with Moscow.

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