Immediate backlash erupted on Thursday after President Donald Trump called for the governments of China and Ukraine to investigate current 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, for corruption, a comment that may land the president in even more trouble as an impeachment inquiry in the House continues to move forward.
"China should start an investigation into the Bidens," Trump told reporters outside the White House.
Here's the video: Trump is now openly urging the leaders of Ukraine and China to investigate one of his political rivals.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 3, 2019
Via CSPAN pic.twitter.com/xKOSRosyck
"President Trump is under the misimpression that if he keeps committing impeachable offenses, he can somehow normalize them and escape accountability," advocacy group Public Citizen said in response to the president's comments.
Trump made the comments on the South Lawn of the White House in response to questions about the deepening scandal over his alleged pressuring of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Hunter Biden's employment with the oil company Burisma Holdings. The scandal kickstarted the House impeachment inquiry.
Biden is the current frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, the winner of which will presumably face Trump in a general election. The president, casting about for more dirt on his potential opponent, recently brought up a state visit to China in 2013 that Hunter accompanied his father on where the younger Biden is accused of meeting with investors for a hedge fund he developed, though no evidence of wrongdoing has yet been revealed, as evidence of a pattern of corruption in the Biden family.
"What happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine," Trump said Thursday.
Commentator Elise Jordan, in a tweet, said that Americans "deserve better" than Trump and Biden.
Two ideas at once:— Elise Jordan (@Elise_Jordan) October 3, 2019
1) Trump and his family are unabashedly corrupt, and Trump should be impeached for abuse of power;
2) Son of a VP shouldn't join a foreign trip to China and take a side meeting for his recently launched private equity fund.
We deserve better.
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Trump said Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine and China amounted to a "pay-off."
"The guy got kicked out of the Navy and all of the sudden he's getting billions of dollars," the president said.
Lawmakers reacted with outrage to the president's latest comments.
"Just because he does it in the open does not make his abuse of power OK," tweeted Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). "A democracy that fails its duty to address a lawless leader is no longer a democracy."
On Twitter, journalist Ari Berman said the president's remarks amounted to open solicitation for election interference.
"Let's be very clear what’s happening here: Trump is openly asking foreign governments to interfere in the 2020 presidential election against his political rivals," said Berman. "And Republicans are allowing it to happen by doing nothing about impeachment or election security."
GOP inaction on the president's behavior was also noted by The Nation's Jeet Heer, who pointed out that remarks from lawmakers like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) sounding the alarm over Trump's actions on Ukraine are empty if they don't do anything.
"Hey, Mitt, Trump is just blurting it out there now—he wants Ukraine and China to investigate Biden," tweeted Heer. "Are you going to do anything about it or just keep furrowing your brows on Twitter?"
Hours after Trump's request to Ukraine and China to help take down his political rival, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) demanded Democrats shut down the impeachment inquiry.