President Trump 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 Stephanopoulos, came after special counsel Robert Mueller’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. 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 Clinton.
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.”