A defiant President Trump pushed back Thursday against the outrage over his comments that he would be open to accepting opposition research from individuals from foreign countries, arguing he should have no obligation to call the FBI in certain cases while trying to turn the tables on Democratic lawmakers over their own foreign contacts.
“I meet and talk to ‘foreign governments’ every day,” the president tweeted Thursday.
Citing recent conversations with leaders in the United Kingdom and Ireland, France and Poland, Trump said, “We talked about ‘Everything!’ Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again.” He initially included a widely mocked spelling error referencing the "Prince of Whales" but later corrected it.
The president was fighting back amid the backlash over his interview with ABC News on Wednesday, where Trump was asked what he would do if a foreign power offered dirt on his 2020 opponent. "I think I'd want to hear it," Trump said, adding, "There's nothing wrong with listening."
The comments revived calls from 2020 Democratic presidential candidates for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, including from Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday told reporters the remarks were a clear indication that Trump "does not know right from wrong."
"It's so against any sense of decency. There is a sense of decency about fruit from the forbidden tree," Pelosi said. "Everybody in this country should be totally appalled by what he said last night ... so totally unethical, that he doesn't even realize."
She added: "He probably doesn't know the difference between right and wrong, and that's probably the nicest thing I can say about him."
But in tweets Thursday, Trump tried to turn the tables on prominent Democratic lawmakers.
“When Senator @MarkWarnerVA spoke at length, and in great detail, about extremely negative information on me, with a talented entertainer purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he immediately call the FBI?” Trump asked. “NO, in fact he didn’t even tell the Senate Intelligence Committee of which he is a member.”
A spokeswoman for Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she doesn’t know what the president is referencing, tweeting that "this never happened. literally, i have NO idea what he's talking about.”
The president didn’t specify, but it’s possible he is referring to reports that Warner had extensive contact in 2017 with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who was offering Warner access to former British spy and dossier author Christopher Steele.
Trump on Thursday also took aim at California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. He appeared to reference reports that Schiff held an eight-minute phone conversation in 2017 with Russian radio hosts posing as a Ukrainian politician who promised to provide compromising images of the president.
“When @RepAdamSchiff took calls from another person, also very successfully purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he call the FBI, or even think to call the FBI? NO!” Trump tweeted.
The role of Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., in organizing a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer offering negative information on Hillary Clinton was a focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the last presidential campaign.
Mueller’s report later found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy.
Fox News' Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.