President Trump publicly called for Ukraine and China to investigate Joe Biden while speaking to reporters before boarding Marine One on Thursday morning, adding fuel to the impeachment inquiry launched last week by House Democrats.
“[Ukraine] should investigate the Bidens,” Trump yelled over the whir of the nearby presidential helicopter on Thursday, flailing his hands for emphasis. “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens. What happened in China is just about as bad as what happened in Ukraine.”
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 3, 2019
The public call underscores Trump’s belief that he’s done nothing wrong in asking foreign nations to interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf. During the same press gaggle he reiterated that his July 25th call with Zelensky was “perfect,” despite a partial readout of the call revealing that he asked Zelensky for a “favor” (to investigate a debunked 2016 election interference conspiracy theory, as well as Biden) immediately after Zelensky brought up his willingness to cooperate with the U.S. in order to receive military aid Trump mysteriously froze shortly before the call.
Soon after Trump spoke with the press on Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whom Trump has routinely attacked since the impeachment inquiry was launched last week, clarified that there is indeed something wrong with using the power of the presidency to pressure foreign governments into investigating political opponents. “The President cannot use the power of his office to pressure foreign leaders to investigate his political opponents,” Schiff wrote. “His rant this morning reinforces the urgency of our work. America is a Republic, if we can keep it.”
To illustrate one of the many reasons why Trump’s call for China to investigate Biden is so problematic, CNN’s Ryan Struyk pointed out that just 30 seconds before Trump said China should look into Biden, he noted that if the nation doesn’t “do what we want, we have tremendous power.”
Trump at 10:37:24 a.m., talking about trade negotiations: "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., asked about Ukraine probe: "Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens."
— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) October 3, 2019
When asked whether he has raised the possibility of a potential investigation of the Bidens with China directly, Trump said he hadn’t.
“It’s certainly something we could start thinking about,” he added.