Trump: I Would Accept Dirt On Political Opponents If Offered By Foreign Governments [Updated]

In controversial interview, President Donald Trump told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office that he would accept dirt on political opponents from foreign governments and would not necessarily alert his own FBI. He further said that FBI Director Christoper Wray was “wrong” in saying that such contacts should be reported. There is nothing illegal in receiving such information for either politicians or journalists. However, it puts Trump at odds with the view not only of his own agencies but most of the public on the need to alert the FBI. In the aftermath of the interview, various Fox hosts criticized not Trump but ABC for what they portrayed as an ambush. It was not an ambush. It was a standard interview with a highly relevant (and predictable) question by Stephanopoulos. At the same time, the CNN’s Chris Cuomo is also wrong to portray this as endorsing possible criminal conduct. There is nothing illegal in accepting information from foreign intelligence figures, which was done by the Clinton campaign in the Steele Dossier. Trump has downplayed the comments.

Stephanopoulos asked whether his campaign would accept damaging information from countries like China or Russia — or hand it over the FBI. Turmp “I think maybe you do both.” Trump continued “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,. If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

That alone might not have caused as much of a stir. However, Trump then added that he might not inform the FBI:

“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. 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.

. . . “Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,’ do you call the FBI? . . . 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 then asked the obvious follow up about the fact that Wray said that the FBI should have been informed about such efforts related to the Trump Tower meeting. Trump then directed contradicted his own FBI: “The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn’t happen like that in life. Now maybe it will start happening, maybe today you’d think differently.”

Again, there is no law requiring notice to the FBI. However, this is a government offering dirt on a presidential candidate. It should be concerning for any official. There is nothing unlawful in receiving the information but there is ample reason to inform the FBI of a foreign power interfering with our election, particularly a hostile foreign power. Some have argued that information can be a “thing of value” under federal election laws. If so, receiving information from a foreign government could violate the ban on such contributions. However, I have always viewed such arguments as too sweeping. Obviously, there is a great deal of information that passes from government sources, including information acquired by the Clinton campaign from foreign intelligence figures in the Steele Dossier. The loose interpretation given to any “information” as a “thing of value”
would raise serious first amendment concerns that I have discussed in earlier columns.

The interview added yet another damaging soundbite to use against Trump in the general election. He gained nothing from the comments. He could have acknowledged that he would listen to evidence of possible criminal acts, but that he would simply notify the FBI as a matter of course. Instead, as correctly noted by Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade, opened himself up to an avalanche of bipartisan criticism.

Given the detailed findings of the Mueller report on Russian efforts to influence our election, the President’s statement could not come at a worse time. It also throws into doubt the position of our government after the report and could a course for a major collision between the Wray and Trump on the issue.

328 thoughts on “Trump: I Would Accept Dirt On Political Opponents If Offered By Foreign Governments [Updated]”

  1. Hillary Clinton not only accepted dirt against Trump, but hired a company to spread it around. One of that company’s employees gave it to her husband, an FBI employee with a responsible position with the agency. The dirt was used to justify a FISA warrant..

    Hillary Clinton and Nellie and Bruce Ohr are walking around free of the press condemnation the President is suffering of saying, hypothetically, he’d do much something much less despicable than Mrs Clinton and the Ohrs did..

    The situation speaks for itself.

    1. And they worked with the FBI to get past being indicted for her illegal servers and worked against Trump with illegal spying on his campaign

      That’s sedition

    2. Jean L.,
      It SHOULD speak for itself. Re Hillary, no one seems that interested in investigating her claim, and the claims of just about everyone else in her campaign and in the DNC, that they didn’t know anything about the Steele Russian Dossier opposition research.
      The use of intermediaries allowed even the Hillary Campaign and the DNC to cover up these funding for this opposition research.
      So there is no definite evidence that she herself knew; it was set up that way, the deniability, and in the absence of any known investigation into who approved ( in the DNC/ Hillary Campaign) approved these expenditures, who was getting briefed on the Russian opposition research, etc., she and others have been allowed to claim ignorance about the Steele Russian Dossier project.
      The statements and activities of Strzok, Page, McCabe, and the Ohrs have been well- documented.
      It does not good to point that out to the 🙉 hear-no-evil crowd, as they will I’m mediately pivot and deflect away from those facts when they are mentioned.
      And they have been covered again and again here in these threads.
      But while the facts you pointed out SHOULD speak for themselves, there are enough active propagantists here who do not put a great deal of stock in facts and accuracy.
      What are little things like facts and accuracy if they interfere with their demogoguery?

      1. Unfortunately for Tom’s “point”, what speaks loudest is the fact that the information in the Dossier, as well as the fact that Trump was under investigation, was kept from the public by the FBI and the MSM until after the election. What that says – loudly – is that both the FBI and the MSM kept to their traditional principles of not influencing an election (the FBI) and not publishing without confirmation (the MSM).

        Also, as Tom says, the activities of Strzok and Page etc have been documented by a lengthy IG report which found no unprofessional behavior other than the use of agency phones for personal and political communications. In fact, it was noted in that report that Strzok pushed for more aggressive investigative activities in the Clinton email case.

        As Tom says, “the facts … SHOULD speak for themselves, (but) there are enough active propagantists here who do not put a great deal of stock in facts and accuracy. What are little things like facts and accuracy if they interfere with their demogoguery?”

        1. So McCabe and Strzok were fired because if professional conduct?
          And others demoted for the same reason, because they behaved “professionally”?
          I’m not sure why, especially after Strzok’s Congressional testimony, there are some who feel obligated to act as apologists for these people.
          If the discussion had been about Hillary, “She can’t will, can she? We’ll stop it”, and the “insurance policy” was discussed just in case Hillary won, I can guarantee that Hillaryites would be demanding their heads on a platter.
          But when those discussions involve a candidate they dislike, that conduct is OK?
          I won’t even go into the situation with the Ohrs, who collaborated with Steele after the FBI severed ties with Steele in the fall of 2016.
          While Nellie Ohr is working for the firm that selected Steele.
          So there appears to be no disagreement on these basic, established facts. That disagreement is primarily over the ” so what”, dismissive position some cling to because Hillary’s opponent, not Hillary, was the one involved in these discussions and activities ( which include at least the appearance of conflicts of interest).
          Maybe they were in pressed after watching Strzok’s testimony, and like his honey at the FBI (and Strzok himself), so him as a great guy who did absolutely nothing wrong.
          There were valid reasons why people were fired and demoted, sometimes in reverse order, when the conduct of these officials came to light.
          I have yet to see that IG Horowitz stated that their conduct……any and all of the above…..was professional.

          1. Horowitz says he found no affirmative evidence that Strzok skewed his decision-making for political reasons. But he says he “did not have confidence” that Strzok’s decision in the campaign’s final month to prioritize the Trump campaign/Russia probe over new Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop “was free from bias.” He writes that Strzok and other FBI employees “brought discredit to themselves” and hurt the bureau’s reputation
            This is what Horwitz actually concluded. He carefully parsed the wording of his conclusions by saying “no affirmative evidence” ( he could not prove that Strzok’s biases influence his actions) in one instance, and that he was “not confident” that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Trump campaign investion over the Hillary email investgations was “free form bias”.

            1. “from bias”, not “form bias”.
              Also, the segment of the article I posted in the above comment was from VOX, written in mid-June 2018 ( the 16th?), immediately after IG Horowitz completed his first report.

              1. From the IG report:

                “We searched for evidence that the Weiner laptop was
                deliberately placed on the back-burner by others in the
                FBI to protect Clinton, but found no evidence in emails,
                text messages, instant messages, or documents that
                suggested an improper purpose. We also took note of
                the fact that numerous other FBI executives—including
                the approximately 39 who participated in the
                September 28 SVTC—were briefed on the potential
                existence of Midyear-related emails on the Weiner
                laptop. We also noted that the Russia investigation was
                under the supervision of Priestap—for whom we found
                no evidence of bias and who himself was aware of the
                Weiner laptop issue by September 29. However, we
                also did not identify a consistent or persuasive
                explanation for the FBI’s failure to act for almost a
                month after learning of potential Midyear-related emails
                on the Weiner laptop…….”

                1. That as-yet-unexplained delay…..the nearly month long “failure to act” …..has yet to be resolved.
                  It may have been covered in some report or testimony that I missed…..but as of a year ago, when IG Horowitz issued his first report…..there was no explanation.
                  Nor have I seen that issue addressed since then.
                  The closest thing to a possible explanation is the Horowitz comment that he was “not confident” that the decision to prioritize the investigation of the Trump Campaign over the Hillary email investigation was free from bias.

                  1. Yeah, gee Tom, that really speaks loudly for ………. what? There are a myriad of possible explanations and you hope it’s because of a conspiracy apparently backfiring – it was announced 1.5 weeks before the election – by a group that still kept Trump’s investigation secret. But hey Jr G-man, you don’t think there was a conspiracy so the voices in your head speaking so loudly must have some other point.

                    Oh, what could it be?

          2. “because OF professional conduct”…I frequently hit the letter i next to the letter o on this smartphone.

        2. I did not mention any names in that particular comment that I made earlier to Jean L., but I see that janF./anon1 recognized herself with I mentioned characteristics like demogoguery.🤭

    3. Steele was the firmer head of the British MI-6 Russia desk and as such had FBI contacts of his own who he contacted with the information which judged concerning. He has his own consulting business which one might assume he would not want to damage by promoting scurrilous information to professional contacts.

      The Dossier was used as part of the first FISA application for Page and was identified in that application as produced by a private firm for opposition research. As Mueller later confirmed, the information on Page was largely correct if not completely accurate.

      1. funny that anon 1 left out seversl facts, e.g., that Steele, a self-identifed Trump-hater motivated to destroy Trump’s candidacy, withheld exculpatory evidence; that the identification of DNC/clinton as the payers/requesters was buried ina footnote in the FISA application, and that the factual allegations that were verfied were not harmful to Trump–the most damaging were never proven and in fact, many were dismissed. Anon merely adds to the propaganda with selective presentations and his/her comments must therefore be dismissed as merely opinion.

        1. Lin,.
          Virtually every comment made by anon1 ( formerly using the name of JanF) is shaped by the insane level of bias and partisanship that she displayed in her Feb.24, 2019 comments.
          Anyone who comes here to comment on this thread with that mentality is not interest in actual debate.
          Additionally, in her “mind”, such as it is, the stunts she repeatedly pulls means that she “wins” every argument.

          1. Typically Tom has no answer for what has been “speaking loudly” but prefers his innuendos and then personal attacks. That is boring to most of us I hope and I’m happy to stick closely to the facts.

        2. lin, any intelligent and informed person would oppose Trump’s becoming president, which the results confirm. That is different than besmirching one’s own well established reputation by corrupting information, the product Steele sells. The Dossier was presented as “raw intelligence”, meaning these were allegations from connected sources worth investigating farther. As far as we know, Steele did this work by himself and did not employ staff to do that investigating.

          Nothing in FISA warrants is named, including the candidates (“candidate 1”, etc). The judges would have to be fools to not guess which it might have been who produced the opposition research (an already suspect source) and were free to ask who it was if they did not know and cared.

          The information regarding Page was largely correct, though some details were not, and were corroborated by Mueller. Page had been a person of interest to the FBI over Russian connections going back to 2013.

      2. It’s worth noting that the FBI severed ties with Steele when they discovered that he was trying to get the media to “run with” the allegations” contained in the opposition research project he directed.
        There was also a criminal referral to DOJ about 18 months ago concerning allegations that Steele lied to the FBI about those media contacts.
        As is well-known, Steele and “his
        client” ultimately had to settle for a rag like Mother Jones to print allegations from the dossier.
        It’s idiotic to dismiss that pre-election MJ’s article simply because the words “dossier” and “Steele” do not appear in that article.
        That excuse, used earlier in this thread, demonstrates the extreme contortions and distortions some will go to in order to try to distort the facts.

        1. Tom, that is correct, and further proof of the FBI’s innocence regarding a plot to get Trump. Can’t you hear those facts “speaking loudly” to you?

          Oh, I forgot you don’t think there was an FBI conspiracy and agree with me on this point.

  2. Did Stephenopolis Set Trump up ?

    Of course he did. What a stupid question.

    We expect “gotcha” questions out of journalists.

    The question was an obvious trap and Trump had no possible answer aside fromt he one he gave.

    If he said he would not accept dirt from foreign powers – he would be calling his own 2016 campaign corrupt – possibly criminally so.

    If he said he would tell the FBI about anything, again he indicts his own 2016 campaign.

    Further he sets his future campaigns up.

    If he says he would not accept dirt from a foreign power, or he would report anything to the FBI, then he spends the entire 2020 election cycle answer stupid questions about every person in his campaign 3 steps removed from a foreigner.

    The BIG advantage he has on this issues is that everything he is accused of the Clinton campaign actually did.

    Clinton did get dirt on Trump from Russia and went to great lengths to hide that.
    Clinton did not report to the FBI that foreign agents were providing her with dirt,
    She tried to sell the dirt to the FBI.

    Further we have Clinton’s machinations with the Ukraine which are even more direct.

    Then we have the possibility that the Trump Tower meeting may have been orchestrated by the Clinton Campaign.

    Pretty much all the attempts by “russians” to get into the Trump campaign were not real russians but other FBI assets or associates of Clinton.

    I have no problems with Staphanopolis’s question. But I am not going to pretend it was not a setup, a gotcha.

  3. Turley is MOSTLY correct – as is Trump.

    Absolutely the statement bothers most of us.

    Which is precisely why Clinton went to such tremendous efforts to keep secret her machinations with Steele.

    Everything that is offensive should not be illegal.

    Alot of our stupidity is the result of language mangling.

    What is “Foreign interference” ?

    The US meddles overtly and covertly in elections arround the world.
    There is nothing that any nation has done to us, that we have not routinely done to others.

    Our government, our Press our people express their oppinions on the outcome of elections accross the world. We do so from the whitehouse, from the state department, from the UN, from the CIA, from our media, from social media.

    Are americans alone permitted to express views on foreign elections ?

    We behave arrogantly and hypocritically. We claim ownership of the internet – in fact all media. Facebook is OURS, Twitter is OURS, Google is OURS, The airwaves are OURS. We are free to express ourselves – but damn anyone else who holds an oppinion about us.

    What exactly is it that constitutes “foriegn interference in our elections” that is so heinous ?

    With respect to laws purporting to make such things “illegal”.

    Nonsense. The relations of nations with each other is an enormous millinia long example of working anarcho-capitalism.

    There is no such thing as “international law”, there are no international cops, and international courts can say whatever they wish their power is limited to the voluntary compliance of nations, or the willingness of other nations to go to war.

    The last point is significant.
    With respect to individuals in our own country we should make no law we are not prepared to kill people for disobeying – because any law vigorously resisted is either toothless or requires force – to the point of killing to enforce.
    We saw that with NYC laws regarding selling loose cigarettes and Eric Garner.

    With respect to our restrictions on the conduct of other nations, the standard is nearly the same. We can not expect any nation to conform its conduct to our expectations if we are unwilling to go to war to enforce that.

    If Russia wishes to post politically on Social media about US elections – are you going to go to war to stop that ? If not, quit the whining.

    What we have is a real world example of the anarcho-capitalism of free speech.

    You need not like what Russia has to say – but you can not silence russia without war.

    And if you can not silence a foreign power, why would you be so stupid as to think you can or should silence individuals ? The rich, corporations, unions, churches, Nazi’s, the KKK.

    Trump has committed one of the cardinal sins in politics.

    He has spoken the truth.

    Those who oppose him may wish to think about how that actually will impact people.

    Most of us grasp that what Trump said was actually true.
    Unpleasant, and offensive – but still true.

    Are voters going to loath Trump for saying something offensive ?
    Or respect him for doing what most politicians do not – telling the truth.

    Most of this “Trump lies” garbage fits in this catagory.

    As politicians go Trump lies very little. the chattering classes are offended not because he purportedly lies, but because he is blunt and mostly tells the truth.

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