Democratic lawmakers have called out President Donald Trump for saying he would accept dirt from a foreign power on a political opponent and then defending the comment by saying that people in Congress "all do it, they always have."
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat representing Illinois's 8th Congressional district,told CNN's New Day on Thursday morning that Trump's remarks were "astonishing."
"I have not met a Congressman, Democrat or Republican, who's said that they've ever done this," Krishnamoorthi said. He also said that his GOP colleagues have "privately" expressed concern about the president making such statements.
Representative Katherine Clark, a Democrat elected to Congress from the Massachusetts' 5th district, later shared the same sentiments as Krishnamoorthi in comments to CNN.
"No member of Congress with any integrity and who wants to uphold our oath of office would ever take that information," Clark said. She also answered affirmatively that she would go to the FBI directly if she were ever approached with information on a political opponent from a foreign power.
"It's not an interference, they have information—I think I'd take it," Trump told ABC's News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview aired on Wednesday. He also argued it was normal to take such information from foreign powers. "When 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," he insisted. The president also said "the FBI director is wrong" to say politicians should come to the bureau directly if they are ever presented with such an offer.
Other members of Congress have also voiced strong criticism of the president, with some even calling for his impeachment.
"A foreign government attacked our 2016 elections to support Trump, Trump welcomed that help, and Trump obstructed the investigation. Now, he said he'd do it all over again," Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, who is currently seeking her party's 2020 presidential nomination, wrote on Twitter. "It's time to impeach Donald Trump."
Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is also seeking the Democratic party's 2020 presidential nomination, also called for impeachment.
"We have a president who thinks he is above the law. The House should immediately begin impeachment inquiries," Sanders tweeted.
Trump attempted to downplay his controversial remarks in a pair of Thursday morning tweets. He argued that taking dirt from a foreign government on a political opponent was the same as him having a chat with the Queen of England or any other foreign leader about any topic. He also criticized the media, saying his remarks had been inaccurately reported, despite video footage of his full remarks having been widely shared online and on television.
Republicans for the Rule of Law, a group that has been campaigning for Congress to hold Trump accountable for allegations laid out in special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference during the 2016 election, also slammed the president's comments.
"President Trump's complete disregard for American election security, as illustrated in his comments last night during an interview with ABC News, should shock every American," the group said in a statement emailed to Newsweek. "The first duty of the government is to keep the people safe from foreign threats. This duty lies most heavily on the president, who oversees the defense of American national security."
Original story here.