Trump defends position on ‘oppo research’ from foreign governments: ‘How ridiculous’ to tell the FBI

President Trump on Thursday attempted to defend his stunning admission that he would accept damaging information against his political rivals from foreign governments without necessarily alerting the FBI.

“I meet and talk to ‘foreign governments’ every day,” Trump tweeted, before ticking off a list of foreign dignitaries he met on a recent trip to Europe. “I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Whales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about ’Everything!’”

In his tweet, the president misspelled Wales. He corrected it in a later post.

“Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous!” he continued. “I would never be trusted again.”

Discussions between the president and foreign leaders are ordinarily kept secret, but in most cases — except in Trump’s meetings with Russian President Putin — there are note-takers and other officials present.

In an Oval Office interview on Wednesday, Trump was asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos what he would do if foreign governments offered him damaging information in the upcoming presidential race.

“They have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. 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.”

Trump also claimed without evidence that receiving such information from foreign governments is common in Congress.

“When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is,” the president said. “It’s called oppo research.”

Opposition (or “oppo”) research in American elections usually involves public sources of information, such as newspaper articles. Getting secret information from a foreign government could leave the recipient open to blackmail or create an obligation for an official to act in that government’s interest.

17 PHOTOS
Donald Trump in Wisconsin
See Gallery
Donald Trump in Wisconsin
US President Donald Trump claps as he leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Walker, former governor of Wisconsin, center, waves during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump and executive vice president of development and acquisitions with the Trump Organization Inc., distributes hats to the crowd ahead of a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. As his 2020 campaign gears up, President Donald Trump is putting an early focus on the three Rust Belt states that sent him to the White House after Republican losses in midterm elections showed his support in the region is fading. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, UNITED STATES - 2019/04/27: An NRA member and Trump supporter wearing a MAGA hat looks at a shotgun during the third day of the National Rifle Association convention. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Attendees hold placards during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump waves during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees hold placards during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump and executive vice president of development and acquisitions with the Trump Organization Inc., speaks during a rally with President Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. President Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump waves during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump claps during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Supporters listen as US President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

In his Thursday tweets, Trump cited unverified reports that Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Mark Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff, took information from foreign sources in their investigations into his 2016 campaign. (In 2017, Schiff was the target of an apparent prank by Russian comedians.)

Warner and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., were the ranking members of their respective Intelligence Committees and looking into foreign meddling as part of their official duties. They were not engaged in a political campaign at the time.

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, Warner blasted Trump for his apparent willingness to accept dirt from an adversary.

"The fact that this president has so little moral compass or the understanding of the need to protect our nation that he says he'd still welcome information from Russia, China or any other potential adversary if it helps his political campaign is outrageous," Warner said.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said it was a "mistake" for Trump to say he'd consider accepting foreign dirt.

If a foreign government comes to you as a public official and offers to help your campaign giving you anything of value be it money or information on your opponent, the right answer is no," Graham said.

Trump’s comments to Stephanopoulos came the same day his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met with lawmakers for a second time about the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting he arranged with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. did not alert the FBI.

“Somebody comes up and says, ‘Hey, I have information on your opponent,’ do you call the FBI?” Trump said. “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. Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.”

Stephanopoulos reminded Trump that FBI Director Christopher Wray testified last month that the bureau “would want to know about” foreign governments offering dirt on U.S. politicians.

“The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn’t happen like that in life,” Trump said. “Now maybe it will start happening, maybe today you’d think differently.”

_____

Read more from Yahoo News:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.