Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended President Trump when he was recently asked about the president’s apparent willingness to accept political “dirt” on his opponents from a foreign power, calling the controversy “a Washington piece of silliness.”
When Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Pompeo Sunday if “accepting oppo research from a foreign government right or wrong?” the former CIA director responded, “Chris, you know, you asked me not to call any of your questions today ridiculous. You came really close right there.”
Pompeo continued, “President Trump has been very clear that he will always make sure that he gets it right for the American people and I’m confident he’ll do that here as well. President Trump has been very clear. He clarified his remarks later. He made it very clear. Even in his first comments, he said, ‘I’d do both.’ He said he’d call the FBI.’”
Wallace Pushes the Issue
At the risk of crossing Pompeo’s imaginary line, Wallace persisted, noting to the Secretary that the United States historically considers foreign interference in its elections unacceptable, a point that Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub made clear after the president’s original comments.
“It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election,” Weintraub said in a statement, which she didn’t think she “needed to say.” “This is not a novel concept. Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation.”
Responding to Wallace’s attempt to get a rise out of him, a tight-lipped Pompeo said, “President Trump believes that too. I have nothing further to add. I came on to talk about foreign policy and I think this is the third time you’ve asked me about a Washington piece of silliness.”
President Trump has clarified what he said in a later interview with “Fox & Friends,” saying that he would “absolutely” notify federal law enforcement if a foreign power presented his campaign with “incorrect or badly stated” information about an opponent. But defended his willingness to receive it.
“If you don’t hear what it is, you don’t know what it is,” Trump said.