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
I would not have thought that I needed to say this. pic.twitter.com/T743CsXq79— Ellen L Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) June 13, 2019
FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub: "It's actually a matter of black-letter law. It's pretty straightforward. Anyone in the U.S. is not allowed to accept anything of value from a foreign national, particularly a foreign government, in connection with an election."https://t.co/Xq7dVwFaHz— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 14, 2019
"I would take help from a foreign adversary against U.S. citizens running against me and not notify the FBI" is about as clear a violation of the oath to protect and defend the Constitution, against all enemies foreign and domestic, as there could be.— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) June 12, 2019
Cornyn calls Trump’s remarks on considering accepting dirt from foreign governments “dangerous territory ... we saw what happened with the Clinton opposition research, using a British spy’s dossier.”— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) June 13, 2019
Notice how long Barr thought before answering this question? He carefully qualified his answer by limiting it to a "foreign intelligence service." Had Trump previously discussed with Barr his view that obtaining information from foreign governments is okay? https://t.co/QJSUDrtLLq— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) June 13, 2019
Trying to imagine the impact it would have had if Trump had been discovered on a secret recording saying that he'd accept dirt from a foreign government as opposed to him saying it out in the open on a national television news program.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 13, 2019
John Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson on December 6, 1787, about American elections, “You are apprehensive of foreign Interference, Intrigue, and Influence. So am I."— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) June 12, 2019
As of tomorrow, the continued service—and silence—of FBI Director Wray will amount to tacit endorsement of his boss claiming it was wrong for him to testify that the FBI wants to know if candidates receive offers of assistance from foreign governments. #ProfilesInComplicity— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) June 13, 2019
Just imagine—really imagine—what Trump, McConnell, and Fox News would have said if Obama had said he would welcome illegally hacked information about John McCain from Russia or Iran, and then told others not to go to the FBI when offered hacked material from a foreign adversary.— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) June 13, 2019
If the U.S. intelligence community finds that a foreign country is working with a candidate to interfere in the election, and that candidate is a sitting president, who do they report that to?— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) June 14, 2019
Susan Rice offers her best answer: pic.twitter.com/i0reEKZzFo
So if Trump thinks it's perfectly okay to collude with a foreign adversary, why did he run around for two years yelling "No collusion, no collusion?"— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) June 13, 2019
Trump is inviting foreign election interference- again.— Rep. Wasserman Schultz (@RepDWStweets) June 13, 2019
2016: "Russia if you're listening I hope you're able to find the 30K emails"
Today: "If somebody called from a country, Norway [& said] ‘we have info on your opponent' oh I think I'd want to hear" https://t.co/hvEfxMKCRE
We just got the closest thing to a confession of 2016 collusion we'll ever get— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) June 12, 2019
We’ve gone from “it was about adoptions,” to “no collusion,” to “collusion is just fine.” Republicans have sanctioned this by their silence. And Democrats will be enablers if they don’t take more drastic action now. https://t.co/2NaTjRpyMA— Mimi Rocah (@Mimirocah1) June 12, 2019
Is collusion still a bad thing? Asking for a nation.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) June 13, 2019
There was NO COLLUSION, but if given the chance, maybe I’d collude. https://t.co/0iBBPQ8qr0— George Conway (@gtconway3d) June 12, 2019
No collusion? No, collusion. https://t.co/ns8dsfKl14— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) June 12, 2019
Schumer on Trump: "And he wonders why people think there might be collusion? Well, there's why ... The president's comments, again, are undemocratic, un-American, disgraceful."— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 13, 2019
Via CBS pic.twitter.com/UcZPYQi2aE
The president just said he's down to clown on collusion.— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) June 12, 2019
And if anyone in America thinks he only *just started* being down to clown—that he wasn't willing to clown in 2016 *exactly* as he just said he's willing to do in 2020—you straight-up need to get your head out of your ass. https://t.co/RiQTRsHpEb
So Trump is saying that there was no collusion, but please, make him an offer!— Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) June 13, 2019
This ad from Republicans for the Rule of Law calls on Congress to act, as the president clearly won't, on the urgent matter of protecting our elections from foreign interference. It will air Monday on cable news networks. If you agree, do forward it to your member of Congress. pic.twitter.com/NxlqojAGcV— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) June 15, 2019
Honestly the kind of thing that should get you kicked off the Intelligence Committee. https://t.co/p9W2hEjyrl— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) June 15, 2019
Samantha Vinograd wrote: "By putting a "for sale" sign on his forehead -- and indicating that he's open for business when it comes to receiving dirt on his political rivals -- President Donald Trump is encouraging foreign governments to attack his political opponents." Furthermore: By indicating that he's open to receiving help from foreign governments - despite troves of open source information indicating that Russia was trying to interfere in our 2016 election to advance its own agenda - the President's penchant for undercutting his home team continues to march forward."
On 12 June 2019, Trump gave this interview to George Stephanopoulos:
The President accidentally undercuts the “Deep State” claim by admitting a leak about the FBI’s investigation before the election would have been fatal.— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) June 16, 2019
“Had that gone out before the election, I don’t think I would have had enough time to defend myself.” pic.twitter.com/HgLFAb9G1l
On 13 June 2019, Trump gave a phone interview to "Fox and Friends." Trump appears to say that he'd report an offer to the FBI if the information is "incorrect or badly stated"—implying that, if it's useful, he's taking it! The fidgeting from hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade at the more cringeworthy phrases is priceless. In this 1 minute 29 second clip (hosted by Axios) you hear and see the following interaction:
Transcript of Donald Trump on "Fox and Friends," 13 June 2019
Steve Doocy: “Mr. President, let’s talk about, early this week, you granted ABC and George Stephanopoulos great access, you spent a couple of days with them. And one of the sound bites they ran over the last 48 hours is essentially you say there is nothing wrong, in your estimation, with accepting dirt from Russia or any foreign country. You’ve taken a lot of heat from the Democrats regarding that since then—“
Trump: “Well I don’t stated it—I think it was accurately stated and I’ve had a lot of support—“
Steve Doocy: “Well then, clarify it.”
Trump:“Yeah, I mean, I’ve had a lot of support. First of all, I don’t think anyone would present me with anything bad because they know how much I love this country. Nobody’s gonna present me with anything bad. Number 2—if I was—and of course you have to have to look at it because if you don’t look at it you’re not gonna know if it’s bad. How are you gonna know if it’s bad? But of course you give it to the FBI or report it to the Attorney General or somebody, uh, like that. But of course you do that. You wouldn’t—you couldn’t have that happen with our country. And everybody understands that. And I thought it was made clear. In fact, I actually said, at the beginning, I think I said I’d do both.”
[Steve Doocy looks to heaven, nods rapidly, looks down at the floor, looks up with his lips tightly pursed. Ainsley Earhardt is frozen like a statue with her hands clasped, staring into the camera. Brian Kilmeade glances down thoughtfully as if trying to come up with an intervention plan.]
Trump:“But if you don’t hear what it is,—
Brian Kilmeade, trying to interrupt: “Right.”
Trump:“you’re not going to know what it is.
Ainsley Earhardt: “That’s right—”
Trump: “—I mean how can you report something that you don’t know—“
Ainsley Earhardt: “—How do you know if it’s bad if you don’t listen to it?”
Brian Kilmeade: “So Mr. President—“
Trump: “No, no! They say, “Oh, he would accept it.’ Well, if I don’t listen, you’re not gonna know. Now, if I thought anything was incorrect or badly stated, I’d report it to the Attorney General, the FBI, I’d report it to law enforcement, absolutely.”
Brian Kilmeade, interrupting: “So—“
The clip ends there.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert parodied Trump saying "There's nothing wrong with listening."
On 16 June 2019, Chris Wallace asks Mike Pompeo what the heck Trump was talking about.
On Fox News Sunday, Mike Pompeo nearly blows a gasket when Chris Wallace asks him very straightforward questions regarding Trump's comments about how he wouldn't contact the FBI if he's offered dirt on a 2020 opponent by a foreign government. pic.twitter.com/HgpyFDgBG5— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 16, 2019
On 27 June 2019, in front of reporters, Trump joked with Putin about election interference. ("Don’t meddle in the election, please," Trump said; a better term would be "gibridnaya voyna — Russian for 'hybrid warfare,' Brian Klaas wrote, and even better "would be 'information warfare.'")
Donald Trump lightheartedly asked Russian President Vladimir Putin not to interfere in the upcoming U.S. election during a meeting at the Group of 20 summit, their first since Special Counsel Robert Mueller documented alleged Kremlin efforts to manipulate the 2016 vote.
Prompted by a reporter’s question about whether Trump would warn Putin against future election meddling, Trump said: “Of course I will.”
“Don’t meddle in the election, president,” Trump then told Putin, pointing his finger at his Russian counterpart. “Don’t meddle in the election,” he repeated.
Putin smiled at first, and turned to his translator. After she told him what Trump had said, he laughed. Trump looked at Putin, shook his head and smiled.
Trump’s admonition did not appear to be serious.
Chris Cillizza, Sept. 23, 2019, for CNN:
What we know happened is this: Trump called the top elected official in Ukraine and, at the very least, mentioned the possibility of corruption tied to the man who is the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination — and the man, not for nothing, that polling suggests carries a steady double-digit lead over Trump in a hypothetical 2020 general election matchup.
* * *
Raising the possibility of corruption, which, again, has no factual basis, by the Democratic presidential frontrunner is, at a minimum, hugely inappropriate behavior for an American president.
He quotes Trump as saying:
We had a great conversation. The conversation I had [with Ukraine's president Zelensky] was largely congratulatory, with all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don't want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine and the Ukraine has got a lot of problems.
Heather Digby Parton, Sept. 23, 2019, in Salon:
Because of Mueller's legal conclusion that the evidence didn't prove the president and his men committed a crime, congressional investigators have largely ignored all that in favor of the evidence on obstruction of justice. But reports over the past few days about Trump's interactions with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in hopes of digging dirt on Joe Biden, should show them that looking at those behaviors from a strictly legal standpoint is a mistake. If Trump was ignorant of the laws before he became president, after two years of 'Russia, Russia, Russia,' he most certainly understood that colluding with a foreign government to interfere in the election was not considered to be an ethical practice, whether it was defined as 'conspiracy' or 'collusion.'
He did it anyway.
Why? Because he got away with it.
On August 7, 2020, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center released a statement saying that the Kremlin was already actively undermining Biden's candidacy, using measures including social media. Trump responded: "I don’t care what anybody says."
In December 2021, Eric Trump said: "We weren't smart enough to collude with Russia. We didn't know what the hell we were doing." He didn't say they didn't want to, or that they knew it was illegal, or that they never would have betrayed their nation — only that they didn't know how.