United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has criticised President Donald Trump‘s comments on his readiness to take assistance from a foreign entity ahead of the 2020 election, calling it an insult to the country’s democracy.
The top House Democrat said on Thursday that when Trump says he is 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.
“Yesterday, the president gave us, once again, evidence that he does not know right from wrong,” Pelosi told reporters at a news conference.
“[Trump is] indifferent to law and any sense of ethics about who we are as a country,” she added. “It’s a very sad thing, a very sad thing that he does not know right from wrong.”
She said “everybody in the country should be totally appalled” by Trump’s remarks.
The president told ABC News broadcaster on Wednesday that if a foreign power were offering damaging information on his 2020 opponent, he would be open to accepting it and would have no obligation to call in the FBI.
“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said. “It’s not an interference. They have information, 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.”
On Thursday, Trump defended his remarks on Twitter, saying he talks with foreign governments daily. He did not address the issue of accepting political dirt on his opponents.
“Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous?” he tweeted.
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 said Trump’s comments did not change Democratic leaders’ plan to move forward with investigating Trump and his administration before any formal impeachment proceedings.
Democratic presidential hopefuls including US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as US Representative Eric Swalwell renewed calls for Trump’s impeachment on Thursday.
The #MuellerReport made it clear: 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. It's time to impeach Donald Trump. https://t.co/yk25iGYpmC
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 12, 2019
Swalwell said Trump has “invited the Russians to again sabotage our elections”.
“And he has obstructed (& obstructs) justice. Time to be held accountable. Our democracy is worth saving,” Swalwell said on Twitter.
He was pointing to Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mueller’s report found insufficient evidence to charge Trump with conspiring with Moscow to interfere in the election.
However, it detailed numerous contacts that Trump associates and campaign members had with Russian figures during the election.
Mueller also outlined several “episodes” of behaviour from Trump that were possibly obstructive to the investigations.