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White House

Trump Walks Back Comments on Offers of Foreign Dirt amid Bipartisan Criticism

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the White House, May 16, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

President Trump said Friday that he would “of course” look at damaging information about an opponent provided by a foreign source, but he would also report it to the FBI if it were “incorrect or badly stated.”

“Of course you have to look at it because if you don’t look at it you’re not going to know if it’s bad,” Trump said during a phone interview with Fox News. “If I thought anything was incorrect or badly stated I’d report to the FBI or law enforcement, absolutely.”

“Of course you’d do that. You couldn’t have that happen with our country,” he added.

The president’s comments came after he faced a flurry of criticism from both sides of the aisle for suggesting earlier this week that he’d accept opposition research from a foreign power. He made the controversial remarks during an interview with ABC News, after being asked whether his son Donald Trump Jr. should have contacted the FBI when he was contacted in 2016 by a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

“I think maybe you do both [listening and calling the FBI],” Trump told ABC. “There’s nothing wrong with listening.”

“I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong I’d go maybe to the FBI,” he added.

The president claimed he’d heard “a lot of support” for those comments, although he did not mention from whom.

Meanwhile, Republicans chastised Trump for his comments, especially after years of his campaign being under investigation for possible collusion with Russia.

“If a public official is approached by a foreign government offering anything of value, the answer is no — whether it be money, opposition research,” said Republican senator Lindsey Graham, usually a staunch ally of the president.

“I wouldn’t do it,” said Senator Joni Ernst, another Republican. “I wouldn’t accept material like that.”

“No, we don’t,” she added when asked about Trump’s claim that members of Congress frequently accept such material. “Let’s stop there. No we don’t.”

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