Republican senator: Foreign interference is a serious threat, but I trust Trump’s judgment

Sen. Thom Tillis said he trusts the president's "good judgment" to know when to report foreign meddling to the authorities.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in 2018. He said Thursday that he trusts Donald Trump's "good judgment" about when it is okay to collude about the 2020 election and when it isn't.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in 2018. Tillis said Thursday that he trusts President Donald Trump's "good judgment" about when it is okay to collude with foreign nations and when it isn't. (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A Republican senator is defending Trump against criticism of his response regarding foreign election meddling this week, despite acknowledging the serious interference threats the country is currently facing.

President Donald Trump’s admission this week that he would likely accept dirt on his 2020 opponents from a foreign country has generated criticism from even his fiercest allies, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and his staunchest media supporters, such as those on Fox & Friends.

However, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) defended Trump on Thursday, saying he had faith in the president’s “good judgment.”

“I think that, again, you have to listen to the entire discussion where the president said that, if he felt something was wrong, he would reach the authorities,” Tillis said. “I’ll leave it up to the president to use good judgment.”


The North Carolina Republican stated that he would “naturally” call the authorities if placed in the same situation. “… We should have better awareness that [this is what we should] all do when we get information from a foreign entity that’s trying to meddle in our elections,” he said.

Pressed as to whether he believed that those rules should not apply to Trump, however, Tillis demurred.

“No, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that, in this case, it probably makes sense to make people aware that we have a serious threat from Russia, China, Iran, a number of other nations that are trying to meddle in our election. So we have to be hyper-vigilant,” he said.

After years of claiming, ad infinitum, that his 2016 campaign did not collude with Russia in the 2016 election, Trump told ABC News this week that if a foreign government offered him dirt on his 2020 campaign opponents he would most likely take it. He said that he might also report it to the FBI — something his own handpicked attorney general has urged all candidates to do — but suggested that they would likely be too busy to do anything with the information anyway.

Last month, Tills slammed fellow Republican Sen. Richard Burr (NC), chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, for calling Trump’s son back to address discrepancies in his prior testimony on his communications with Russia during the campaign.


Tillis tweeted that he believed the case was closed, writing, “It’s time to move on & start focusing on issues that matter to Americans.”

Despite Trump’s repeated insistence and that of his allies, like Tillis, special counsel Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year long probe into Russian interference efforts in the 2016 election did not focus on “collusion,” as the term has no clear legal meaning. Instead, Mueller was charged with investigating whether or not there was criminal coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In his final report, Mueller wrote that he did not find enough evidence to establish whether or not criminal coordination existed, but outlined at least 10 instances of possible obstruction involving Trump, as well as the extensive ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The investigation has also resulted in indictments against 34 people and three Russian businesses, as well as a spate of outside investigations, which are ongoing.