Trump Never Said He’d Take Oppo From a “Foreign Government”

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The latest outrage on Twitter is George Stephanopoulos’s interview with Donald Trump:

President Trump on Wednesday said he would consider accepting information on his political opponents from a foreign government, despite the concerns raised by the intelligence community and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In an Oval Office interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump also said he wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI if a foreign country approached his campaign with “oppo research” about his Democratic challenger. “I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, ‘We have information on your opponent,’ oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

That writeup is from the Washington Post, and it’s typical. Vox said the same thing. Ditto for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. But there’s something odd about all this. Nowhere in the interview did Stephanopoulos use the word “government.” Neither did Trump. Here’s the closest they came:

Stephanopoulos: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept or should they call the FBI?

Trump: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. 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….If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI. If I thought there was something wrong.

Stephanopoulos is vague—“if foreigners, if Russia, if China”—and Trump merely talks about “somebody” calling from a foreign country. ABC News itself was more careful than the rest of the media; in their teaser for the interview they reported that Trump said he wouldn’t go to the FBI if “foreign figures” approached him with information.

So be careful with the “Trump admits he’d take oppo from foreign governments” stuff. It just gives Trump a huge opening to yell “FAKE NEWS!” and claim that he never said any such thing.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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