The Latest: GOP House leaders avoid comment on Trump remark

Politics
Donald Trump, Andrzej Duda

President Donald Trump walks through the Colonnade of the White House, next to Polish President Andrzej Duda, as they arrive for a news conference in the Rose Garden, Wednesday June 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and investigations into Russia election meddling (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

The House’s two top Republicans are avoiding directly addressing whether it was appropriate for President Donald Trump to say he’d listen to damaging information from a foreign entity about a political opponent.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and No. 2 GOP leader Steve Scalise have separately told reporters Thursday that questions about that are hypothetical.

McCarthy says foreign governments shouldn’t interfere in U.S. elections. Scalise says he’s seen Trump respond one way to a hypothetical question but react differently when an actual event occurs. He offered no specifics.

Both men accused Democrats of acting inappropriately during the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump made the remarks in a television interview Wednesday. He also said he wouldn’t necessarily report such an offer to the FBI, which the FBI director has said should be done.

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11:18 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump doesn’t know right from wrong and is “indifferent to law and any sense of ethics about who we are as a country.”

The top House Democrat said Thursday that when Trump says he’s open to accepting information from a foreign power against a political opponent he is ignoring his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.

She said that “it’s a very sad thing, a very sad thing that he does not know right from wrong.”

Pelosi is one of Trump’s leading antagonists. But she is taking a slow, cautious approach when many in her party are demanding an impeachment inquiry.

She says “everybody in the country should be totally appalled” by Trump’s remarks to ABC News.

Trump told ABC Wednesday that if a foreign power were offering dirt on his 2020 opponent, he’d be open to accepting it and would have no obligation to call in the FBI.

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10:40 a.m.

Sen. Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump’s comments that he’s open to accepting information from a foreign power against a political opponent “define deviancy down to a new low.”

The New York Democrat says Trump’s comments to ABC News were disgraceful and “it’s as if the president has learned absolutely nothing from the past two years of investigations.”

Schumer said Thursday that the Russian meddling controversy started after Trump publicly urged Russia to leak 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Schumer says the Republican president “believes winning an election is more important than the integrity of the election.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers Donald Trump Jr. should have called the FBI to report that a Russian lawyer was offering negative information on Clinton in 2016.

The president told ABC if a foreign power were offering dirt on his 2020 opponent he’d have no obligation to call in the FBI.

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9 a.m.

The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates as part of its investigation into Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says in a statement Thursday the committee is examining “deep counterintelligence concerns” raised in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and “requires speaking directly” with Flynn and Gates, who were important witnesses for Mueller’s investigation.

The California Democrat says it’s “unacceptable” that Flynn and Gates haven’t cooperated with Congress. He says the American people “deserve to hear directly” from them. They’re being subpoenaed for documents and testimony.

Flynn admitted lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States and awaits sentencing.

Gates pleaded guilty to conspiracy and false statement charges related to Ukrainian lobbying and political consulting he did with ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who’s been sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

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7 a.m.

President Donald Trump says if a foreign power were offering dirt on his 2020 opponent, he’d be open to accepting it and would have no obligation to call in the FBI.

Speaking to ABC News, Trump says, “I think I’d want to hear it.” He adds, “There’s nothing wrong with listening.”

Trump’s eldest son’s role in organizing a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer offering negative information on Hillary Clinton was a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers that Donald Trump Jr. should have called his agency to report the offer. Mueller said he did not find enough criminal evidence to bring conspiracy charges.

But Trump, who nominated Wray as director in 2017, says he disagrees and that “the FBI director is wrong.”

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