Updated: October 4, 2019 5:09:16 pm
President Donald Trump, already facing impeachment for pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, publicly called on China on Thursday to examine former Vice President Joe Biden as well, an extraordinary request for help from a foreign power that could benefit him in next year’s election.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters. His request came just moments after he discussed upcoming trade talks with China and said that “if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”
The President’s call for Chinese intervention means that Trump and his attorney general have now solicited assistance in discrediting the president’s political opponents from Ukraine, Australia, Italy and, according to one report, Britain. In speaking so publicly Thursday, a defiant Trump pushed back against critics who have called such requests an abuse of power, essentially arguing that there was nothing wrong with seeking foreign help.
By boldly repeating the action at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Trump almost appeared to dare House Democrats to impeach him. But he left his own party in an increasingly uncomfortable position. Republican lawmakers largely stayed silent on Thursday.
Trump’s comments on China came as the first witness was interviewed by House investigators as part of the impeachment inquiry into the president’s request for investigations into Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and other Democrats during a July 25 phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine at the same time Trump was withholding $391 million in U.S. aid.
During a daylong, closed interview, Kurt D. Volker, who resigned last week as the Trump administration’s special envoy to Ukraine, told House staff members about his interactions with the Ukrainians and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who has been vigorously lobbying for Ukrainian investigations into Democrats.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the House Intelligence Committee chairman who is leading the impeachment inquiry, said the president’s latest comments were further evidence of his betrayal of duty.
“The president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere and help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the president’s oath of office,” he told reporters.
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