Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) on Thursday criticized President Donald Trump for saying he is open to accepting opposition research on his presidential rivals, calling his position “simply unthinkable.”
“Let’s distinguish between a foreign official making an off-hand comment at a dinner about the campaign versus a foreign government trying to influence an election. In the latter case, that would be unthinkable. It would be totally inappropriate, and it would strike at the heart of our democracy,” Romney, one of the U.S. Senate’s most vocal Trump critics, told reporters during an impromptu gaggle.
Sen. Mitt Romney says it's "simply unthinkable" to accept foreign dirt on rivals: "I ran for president twice. I ran for governor once. I ran for Senate twice. I've never had any attempt made by a foreign government. … Had that occurred I would've contacted the FBI immediately" pic.twitter.com/aL2v5Wfpzs
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 13, 2019
It would “be wrong and unthinkable that any candidate for president would accept such information,” the Utah Republican added.
Asked if accepting dirt from a foreign government is something he has done in the past, Romney swiftly denied ever doing so. “I’ve run for Senate twice, I’ve run for governor once, I’ve run for president twice, so far as I know we never received any information from any foreign government,” he said, before adding” We would have immediately informed the FBI.”
President Trump raised eyebrows when he told ABC News on Wednesday that he would listen if foreign governments, including Russia and China, offered potentially damaging information on those who want his job, rather than notify the FBI.
“I think maybe you do both,” the president told interviewer George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office. “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,” he added.
Top congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, criticized President Trump’s interview, telling reporters during her weekly press conference the remarks are “so against any sense of decency.”
“Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the president said last night. Totally appalled. But he has a habit of making appalling statements,” Pelosi said Thursday. “Not any one issue is going to trigger, ‘Oh now, we’ll go to this,’ because it’s about investigating, it’s about litigating.”
In a series of tweets Thursday, President Trump downplayed the outpour of criticism, argueing that speaking to foreign governments is part of being commander-in-chief.
“I meet and talk to “foreign governments” every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Wales, 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!” the president tweeted. “Should I immediately 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,” he concluded.