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.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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