With his initial remarks earlier in the week, Mr. Trump had put his relationship with Moscow back into the center of the debate in Washington over the future of the presidency after Mr. Mueller reported that he could not establish any criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
He reopened the issue during an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, when he dismissed the notion that a candidate should call the F.B.I. if approached by a foreign power with election help, as Mr. Trump’s own F.B.I. director, Christopher A Wray, has said should happen.
“I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the F.B.I. In my whole life,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Stephanopoulos dismissively. “You don’t call the F.B.I. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do.”
He added, “Give me a break — life doesn’t work that way.” Reminded that his own F.B.I. director had said such approaches should be reported, Mr. Trump said, “the F.B.I. director is wrong.” He later said that he might call the F.B.I., but only if he thought something wrong had been done. “I think maybe you do both,” he said.
Those comments stirred a fresh furor on Capitol Hill, fueling calls for legislation requiring American political campaigns to report foreign entities that offer campaign help and emboldening Democrats pushing for Mr. Trump’s impeachment. Republicans rejected Mr. Trump’s logic, flatly saying such approaches should be reported, although they blocked a Democratic bid in the Senate to put that into law.
In his Fox interview on Friday, Mr. Trump repeated his contention that receiving incriminating information from a foreign power was not inherently wrong. “Well, if I don’t listen, you’re not going to know,” he said.
But he insisted the real scandal was the investigation into whether his campaign had illegally coordinated with Russia during the 2016 campaign. Once again, he termed that “spying,” even though Mr. Wray, his own F.B.I. director, has rejected that term to describe investigatory activity.
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