During an interview with ABC News that aired on Sunday, President Donald Trump said that he resented former special counsel Robert Mueller's report because it didn't tell "the truth" and he is an "honest guy"... but also said that he would not have a problem with accepting dirt on a political opponent from a foreign power.
The comments about Trump being an "honest guy" occurred when the president segued to the topic of the Mueller report after an unrelated question about polling in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.
"Back at the White House Wednesday, we were invited into the Oval Office where the president returned to the Mueller report — again unprompted — this time responding to a question about 2020 polling he doesn’t like," George Stephanoulos recalled, showing a clip of the interview in which he asked the president why the Mueller report bothers him so much.
"Because it's untrue," Trump replied. "I like the truth. You know, I'm actually a very honest guy. If I thought they were correct, I wouldn't be complaining at all. I understand that. It's like the witch hunt that goes on. No collusion with Russia, there was no collusion. And what bothers me..."
After Stephanopoulos pointed out that "the report cites 126 contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia, but insufficient evidence to charge a criminal conspiracy," Trump responded that "all I want is the truth. All I want is fairness."
The interview also included what Stephanopoulos referred to as a "stunning admission" that Trump would accept help from foreign powers during the 2020 presidential election. After the ABC News anchor asked whether Trump's campaign would accept information from Russia, China or another foreign power or call the FBI, the president responded that "I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't — there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, 'We have information on your opponent.' Oh, I think I'd want to hear it."
When pressed about whether he was okay with that type of interference, Trump insisted that it wasn't really interference at all.
"It's not an interference. They have information," Trump told Stephanopoulos. "I think I'd take it. 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, that they come up with oppo research. 'Oh, let's call the FBI.' The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it, but you go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it, they always have. And that's the way it is. It's called oppo research."
Trump's controversial comments were leaked last week, although their larger context was not known at that time. The remarks were particularly notable because in June 2016, Donald Trump Jr. emailed a British publicist named Rob Goldstone who "offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary [Clinton] and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father." Goldstone had made it clear that this was linked to "Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump."
The future president's son replied, "If it’s what you say, I love it."