President Donald Trump said during an ABC News interview that he would likely except information on his election opponent from a foreign source such as Russia or China.
In the interview with George Stephanopoulos, the president scoffed at the idea that his son, Donald Trump Jr., should’ve called the FBI when a Russian operative approached him claiming possession of information against Hillary Clinton.
“Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that email?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Okay. Let’s put yourself in a position,” President Trump replied. “You’re a congressman. Somebody comes up and says, ‘Hey, I have information on your opponent. Do you call the FBI?”
“If it’s coming from Russia, you do,” Stephanopoulos interjected.
The president disagreed.
“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,” President Trump said. “In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you—”
“Al Gore got a stolen briefing book. He called the FBI,” Stephanopoulos retorted.
“Well that’s different, a stolen briefing book. This isn’t a stolen—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.”
“The FBI director said that’s what should happen,” Stephanopoulos said.
“The FBI director is wrong,” Trump replied.
Stephanopoulos the turned to the future, with the 2020 election drawing nearer. He asked the president what he would do if a foreign entity offered him opposition research.
“Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?” Stephanopoulos asked.
Trump seemed to ponder the question for a brief moment before answering.
“I think maybe you do both,” Trump said. “I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country—Norway— we have information on your opponent. Oh. I think I’d want to hear it.”
“You want that kind of interference in our elections?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“It’s not an interference. 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.”
The president’s comments gave more energy to calls for impeachment. Presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for example, responded to the interview excerpt by tweeting “It’s time for Congress to begin impeachment hearings.”