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Several national-level news organizations, including The New York Times, CBS News, Roll Call, and The Washington Post, repeated Trump’s false justifications for his widely criticized comment in an ABC News interview on June 12 that he would accept information from a foreign government about a 2020 Democratic rival. In the interview, he also falsely claimed that accepting information from foreign governments is identical to political opposition research and it is a routine practice: They all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”
After Trump started getting criticized for his comments, he tweeted on June 13 several defenses of his remarks, equating accepting information as a candidate that a foreign government dug up to acting in his official capacity in routine meetings and discussions with foreign dignitaries. As Politico explained in an article about Trump's defenses: "Every president regularly communicates with other heads of state. Accepting negative information from a foreign agent about a campaign opponent is a different matter, however. It is a crime for a campaign to solicit or accept something of value from a foreign entity, which some lawyers say could apply to information." But several major news organizations repeated Trump’s false justifications through their Twitter accounts, misinforming their audiences about the grave nature of Trump’s admission.
President Trump defended his willingness to accept campaign help from foreign governments by equating it to holding diplomatic meetings with world leaders https://t.co/It0NlxU2V5
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) June 13, 2019
Trump cites frequent meetings with foreign leaders to try to justify comments on accepting opposition research https://t.co/xj8ThltEGR
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 13, 2019
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 13, 2019
Trump said that he would accept "dirt" on a political opponent from foreign sources if offered, and that doing so is routine https://t.co/kGvX4qQ0wh
— Roll Call (@rollcall) June 13, 2019
In contrast, NPR's and Politico's Twitter feeds made clear that Trump's claims in the interview were false:
President Trump claimed information offered by a foreign government is the equivalent to "oppo research" that's traditional in American political campaigns.
That's false. https://t.co/1NbarZQGh3
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) June 13, 2019
Trump is right on one element: Oppo research is absolutely a part of every election, and it’s often not pretty.
But that dirt-digging is not conducted by foreign governments. https://t.co/y4bRECLGp7
— POLITICO (@politico) June 13, 2019