Donald Trump has said he would be open to accepting damaging information on a 2020 election opponent from another country and would feel no obligation to inform the FBI ??? later attempting to justify his stance with a tweet about overseas dignitaries that referred to the heir to the British throne as the ???Prince of Whales???.
Trump told ABC News on Wednesday: ???I think you might want to listen, there isn???t anything wrong with listening, f somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ???we have information on your opponent??? oh, I think I???d want to hear it.???
Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election with the aim of helping elect Trump, according to an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. In June 2016, Donald Trump Jr, Trump???s eldest son, met a Russian lawyer who offered ???dirt??? on Hillary Clinton.
Mueller???s report did not conclude there was a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians, although there were contacts and Trump did publicly call for Russia to hack into information that would compromise Clinton.
Asked if he would accept information from a country such as Russia or China or, instead, call in the FBI, Trump said: ???I think maybe you do both.???
He went on: ???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??? 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. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that???s the way it is. It???s called oppo research.???
With a crucial mis-spelling, Trump on Thursday morning then posted a pair of tweets, the first saying: ???I meet and talk to ???foreign governments??? every day. 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!??? Should I immediately.....???
Moments later, the tweet was taken down and replaced with one with the correct spelling of Prince Charles???s title.
But his message continued with a tweet saying: ???...call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again. With that being said, my full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters.???
Meanwhile, Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, told Congress last month that the agency would want to know about any election meddling by a foreign power. But these comments were dismissed by Trump when put to him by his interviewer, ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos.
???The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn???t happen like that in life,??? Trump said of Wray, whom he nominated to head the FBI in 2017.
Trump???s comments immediately prompted renewed calls for his impeachment from some Democrats.
Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, tweeted that the Mueller report found ???a foreign government attacked our 2016 elections to support Trump, Trump welcomed that help, and Trump obstructed the investigation. Now, he said he???d do it all over again. It???s time to impeach Donald Trump.???
Trump???s comments came just a month after he pledged not to use information stolen by foreign adversaries in his 2020 re-election campaign, even as he wrongly insisted he had not used such information to his benefit in 2016.
During a question-and-answer session with reporters in the Oval Office in May, Trump said he ???would certainly agree to??? that commitment.
???I don???t need it,??? he said as he met the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orb??n. ???All I need is the opponents that I???m looking at.???
A small number of Republicans, such as Congressman Justin Amash, have also called for Trump???s impeachment.
Trump has repeatedly claimed the Mueller report cleared him of wrongdoing, while criticizing its detailing of his attempts to obstruct any investigation of Russia???s election activity.
One of several Trump advisors to be charged in relation to the investigation was Michael Flynn, the president???s former national security adviser who was convicted of lying to the FBI over his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted about Flynn, who is awaiting sentencing for lying to federal investigators about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition in 2016. Trump wrote that Flynn is a ???33 year war hero who has served with distinction, has not retained a good lawyer, he has retained a GREAT LAWYER, Sidney Powell. Best Wishes and Good Luck to them both!???
Last year, the New York Times reported that Trump???s lawyer had raised the idea of the president pardoning Flynn and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager also convicted in matters related to the investigation and his foreign business dealings, for their crimes.