Donald Trump has said he would accept damaging information on his opponent during the 2020 election campaign, even if it came from a foreign government.
In an interview with broadcaster ABC News, the president denied this would count as meddling in an election.
“They have information – I think I’d take it,” he said.
Asked if he thought his son should have called the FBI when he received one such email in 2016, he said: “Give me a break, life doesn’t work that way.”
However, the president later said he would “maybe” contact the FBI if he were offered information and he “thought there was something wrong”.
“You might want to listen, there’s nothing wrong with listening,” he told the US broadcaster.
“If somebody called from a country… [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ – I think I’d want to hear it.”
- Trump reveals Mexico migrant plan by waving document around
- Robert Mueller: Charging Trump was not an option
Mr Trump dismissed concerns that this would amount to electoral interference by a foreign power.
He added: “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.
“But when somebody comes up with oppo [opposition] research, right… if 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.”
Why does this matter?
Allegations of collusion with foreign powers – specifically, Russia – have consumed Mr Trump’s presidency so far, prompting a a lengthy investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Mr Mueller’s report eventually concluded there was no evidence proving that Mr Trump colluded with Russia.
However, his political rivals are still asking questions: Mr Trump’s latest statements came the same day his son, Donald Jr, was questioned by US senators over his connection with Russia.