Now THREE countries: Trump Publicly Calls On China to Investigate Biden
And now there are three. President Donald Trump today publicly called on China to investigate Joe Biden in the same style he used during campaign 2016 to call on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails. The context: he’s facing impeachment amid charges he tried to pressure Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt on Biden and his son. This latest move has (so far) stunned GOPers, but the spin wil likely start soon. (What Fox’s Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Tucker Carlson will say is predictable.)
The New York Times:
President Trump on Thursday publicly called on China to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in an extraordinary presidential request to a foreign country for help that could benefit him in the 2020 election.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Mr. Trump said Thursday as he left the White House to travel to Florida where he was expected to announce an executive order on Medicare.
The call for China to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings there came as the first witness appeared on Capitol Hill to be interviewed by House investigators as part of an impeachment inquiry into the president’s request in a phone call for help from President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
Mr. Trump has defended his conversation with Mr. Zelensky as “perfect” even after a reconstructed transcript of the call was released that showed him seeking help from Ukraine in investigating the Bidens. And he doubled down on his request on Thursday.
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“I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens,” Mr. Trump said. “Because nobody has any doubt that they weren’t crooked.”
These requests, which critics argue are an abuse of presidential power, echo comments Mr. Trump made as a presidential candidate in 2016 for Russia to release missing emails of his political opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Trump made the comments about China ahead of the latest round of trade talks, which are set to take place next week.
“We’re going to have a meeting with them, we’ll see,” Mr. Trump said of the talks. “I have a lot of options on China. But if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”
Donald Trump is being impeached for using his office to pressure foreign countries to investigate his political rivals. It is not clear Trump understands that, because he simply continues committing this offense in broad daylight.
In remarks to reporters today, Trump was asked what he wants Ukraine to do about the Bidens. He replied, “If they were honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens.” While elaborating on his answer, he added that he would also suggest China launch an investigation of the Biden family.
Of course, the idea that any American citizens should be subject to the Chinese justice system is absurd. The only possible way Trump could desire such an investigation would be if he believes China would fix the outcome in order to win his favor. For that matter, Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine under the Obama administration had gained bipartisan support at the time, as CNN finds, so there is simply no legitimate basis for an investigation of him. Trump wants a cooked investigation with a predetermined outcome to help him politically.
In 2016, Trump asked Russia to hack his opponent’s emails on television. (“Russia, if you’re listening …”) His defenders dismissed it as a joke, even though Russia did not take it as a joke and made a hacking attempt that night. What Trump has taken away from all these episodes is that he is free to commit whatever crimes he wants.
As President Trump keeps talking, he makes it more and more difficult for his supporters to mount an actual defense of his underlying behavior.
Trump’s pushback against impeachment efforts seemed to be gaining some traction on Wednesday with the revelation that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff lied about having had contacts with the Ukraine whistleblower. In fact, the whistleblower reached out to his office before filing the complaint. This came on the heels of Schiff improvising a version of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a congressional hearing rather than just reading directly from the text of the call. In a highly politicized impeachment fight, being able to portray a leader of the opposition as being dishonest is a way of undermining public confidence in the integrity of the impeachment process.
But Trump cannot help himself from making statements that keep his own conduct front and center. On Thursday morning, Trump stood in front of the White House and not only said that Ukraine should investigate the Bidens but also China.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened in Ukraine,” Trump said. “So I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens because nobody has any doubt that they weren’t crooked. That was a crooked deal 100%.”
Trump’s defenders want to focus on Schiff and the media and the deep state because it’s really difficult to argue that Trump’s underlying conduct has been a positive thing. He sees no problem with asking foreign countries to investigate a domestic political rival, even if, in the case of China, it’s an adversary.
His comments were not about assistance with an ongoing Department of Justice inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation or about the national interest in fighting corruption in Ukraine. Clearly and explicitly, he’s stating that he wants foreign governments to investigate a political rival.
Whether or not this rises to the level of removing him from office without a more explicit threat or quid quo pro is a different question from whether objectively, Trump’s behavior here is defensible.
Evaluating Trump here does not depend on trusting whistleblowers or deep state leaks or anonymously sourced media reports or dishonest Democrats. Everyone can see and hear what Trump said on video.
Someone should inform the president that impeachable offenses committed on national television still count. https://t.co/ABObD2Ie4S
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 3, 2019
For context, on the South Lawn:
Trump at 10:37:24 a.m.: "I have a lot of options on China, but if they don't do what we want, we have tremendous power."
Trump at 10:37:54 a.m.: "Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens."
Literally 30 seconds apart.
— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) October 3, 2019
A challenge the press faces with Trump is whether to adopt his legitimizing framing of his abuses. Today's example: "Trump says China should investigate the Bidens." He says "investigate" but Trump doesn't want real inquiries. He wants foreign attacks on his rivals. Call it that.
— Evan McMullin (@EvanMcMullin) October 3, 2019
Trump just called on China to find a way to smear Biden — even as he's in the middle of trade talks with China.
This confirms that Trump will stop at nothing to use the machinery of government to corrupt the 2020 election.
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) October 3, 2019
Keep in mind that the US is locked in a trade war w China that China would very much like to see end. https://t.co/HdTfafBn5A
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) October 3, 2019
CHINA, IF YOU’RE LISTENING, INVESTIGATE DONALD TRUMP FOR TREASON. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE BUT YOUR TARIFFS? https://t.co/l5l4ElpRIY
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) October 3, 2019
each time Trump invites another country (now China) to interfere in our election it's another impeachment article. He's incredibly stupid.
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) October 3, 2019
URGENT: Trump wants to end America sovereignty by allowing foreign governments to help him win. It is against the law and 230 years of practice. He wants American voters to choose elected leaders beholden to foreign powers, not Americans. The act of a dictator! Supported by GOP??
— John Dean (@JohnWDean) October 3, 2019
HE KEEPS COMMITTING HIGH CRIMES IN PLAIN SIGHT. Trump Publicly Urges China to Investigate the Bidens – The New York Times https://t.co/mgEpSenlI6
— Robert Shrum (@BobShrum) October 3, 2019
The President of the United States is out of control.
We cannot have China, our major peer competitor, leverage @realDonaldTrump by doing him the political favor of targeting his political opponent. This weakens our national security, betrays our values and is an abuse of power. https://t.co/LRsMEmKCoT
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 3, 2019
If this doesn’t warrant unanimous and bipartisan rebuke, our Republic as we know it is dead. https://t.co/HGVcwKOlQJ
— Millennial Politics (@MillenPolitics) October 3, 2019
The President cannot use the power of his office to pressure foreign leaders to investigate his political opponents.
His rant this morning reinforces the urgency of our work.
America is a Republic, if we can keep it. https://t.co/9KDCx1hVjs
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 3, 2019
Three strikes and you're out, Mr. Trump.
NATIONS TRUMP PUBLICLY AND CRIMINALLY ASKED TO INTERFERE IN OUR ELECTIONS
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) October 3, 2019
This is a plausible second article of impeachment https://t.co/ed4DVHy97F
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) October 3, 2019
Forget the "coverup." It's all happening in plain sight. https://t.co/a2ZYTJ2Zsm
— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) October 3, 2019
I’ve lived in China & covered it for decades. It is an authoritarian country with no credible rule of law which imprisons & kills political opponents. For a US president to call on such a country to investigate an American is incredible. Will Republicans who know this object?
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 3, 2019
I’ve got to hand it to Trump. It was a beautiful, perfect confession. Many people are saying it was the best confession ever.
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) October 3, 2019
In plain sight, Trump has now asked *two* counties to investigate his political opponent. https://t.co/QI6DAIeghQ
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 3, 2019
Here's the video: Trump is now openly urging the leaders of Ukraine and China to investigate one of his political rivals.
Via CSPAN pic.twitter.com/xKOSRosyck
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 3, 2019
Just because it’s in public view doesn’t mean it’s not an egregious breach of presidential duty, and thus a high crime or misdemeanor, and thus an impeachable offense. https://t.co/Pv7oREJOpf
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) October 3, 2019
So after days of Republicans, and Trump himself, repeatedly denying that Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden, Trump just, on the White House lawn, in front of TV cameras, called on the Ukrainian president — and China! — to investigate Biden.
— John Aravosis ?? (@aravosis) October 3, 2019