President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump judicial nominee withdraws amid Republican opposition: report Trump judicial nominee withdraws amid Republican opposition: report Cummings offers to delay contempt vote for Wednesday deadline on subpoenaed census docs MORE on Wednesday wouldn’t commit to calling the FBI if a foreign power offered damaging information on a political opponent.
The comments, in an interview with ABC’s George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosIowa poll makes waves among 2020 Democrats Iowa poll makes waves among 2020 Democrats O’Rourke dismisses Iowa Poll showing him at 2 percent support MORE, came after special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerDem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold ‘series’ of hearings on Mueller report MORE‘s report, released earlier this year, detailed numerous efforts by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
“I think maybe you do both,” Trump said when asked whether he would call the FBI or listen if Russia, China or another foreign government reached out.
“I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening,” he continued. “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.”
Stephanopoulos noted that FBI Director Christopher Wray has said campaigns should reach out to the bureau if they are contacted by a foreign entity.
“The FBI director is wrong,” Trump said.
Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation into interference in the 2016 election did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and 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.
One particular event came under intense scrutiny. Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr. returning to Capitol Hill for questioning on Wednesday: report Trump Jr. returning to Capitol Hill for questioning on Wednesday: report Trump property in Ireland promotes president’s visit MORE accepted a meeting in the summer of 2016 at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who had promised damaging information on the president’s Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden, Trump trade blows while crisscrossing Iowa Biden, Trump trade blows while crisscrossing Iowa Tulsi Gabbard has a future in politics — but not at the White House MORE.
Trump Jr. and others in attendance have maintained that the meeting was a “waste of time” and that nothing came of it.
The president defended his son in Wednesday’s interview and scoffed when asked whether Trump Jr. should have alerted the FBI about the Russian advances.
“This is somebody that said, ‘We have information on your opponent,'” Trump said. “Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn’t work that way.”
EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Trump tells @GStephanopoulos he wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI if approached by foreign figures with information on his 2020 opponent: “It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it.” https://t.co/yWRxMOaFqW pic.twitter.com/qwLw53s5yc
— ABC News (@ABC) June 12, 2019
The president and some of his allies have defended the meeting, chalking it up to standard opposition research.
Trump’s comments are sure to roil Democrats, some of whom have called to begin impeachment proceedings based on Mueller’s findings.
The House Intelligence Committee held a hearing Wednesday to elaborate on the report’s key takeaways, and the House Judiciary Committee has said it will conduct a series of hearings centered on the special counsel’s findings.