Mitt Romney on Friday became the first Republican member of the U.S. Senate to admonish President Trump over his requests that the governments of China and Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate.
When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 4, 2019
By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 4, 2019
On Friday, Trump defended asking China and Ukraine to investigate Biden, saying his motivation was not to aid his reelection campaign but to root out corruption.
As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries. It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2019
But speaking with reporters at the White House on Friday, Trump was asked whether he had asked any foreign leaders for corruption investigations of people who were not seeking to challenge him in the 2020 presidential election.
“You know, we would have to look,” Trump responded.
The House of Representatives has embarked on an impeachment inquiry against Trump stemming from the president’s July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, a request that led members of the administration to contact a CIA agent who ended up filing a formal whistleblower complaint.
On Thursday, the president reiterated his call for Ukraine to investigate Biden. He also called on China to do the same.
Trump has also discussed his political rivals with China’s President Xi Jinping. During a June 18 phone call, Trump brought up the standing of Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in the presidential race, CNN reported Thursday. While the record of that call was stored in the same highly secure electronic system that houses the full record of Trump’s call with Zelensky, Trump is also reported to have told Xi that he would remain silent on protests in Hong Kong while trade negotiations continued with the U.S.
The Democratic-controlled House appears poised to impeach Trump on the contents of the call as outlined in a partial summary released by the White House as well as the whistleblower complaint. Whatever articles of impeachment are approved would then head to the Senate, where no Republicans aside from Romney have publicly voiced disapproval of the president’s requests for foreign investigations of Biden.
The Utah senator also broke ranks with his party in September, when the story of Trump’s call with Zelensky was first reported.
Romney has had a hot-and-cold relationship with Trump. In April, he became one of the first Republican members of Congress to criticize Trump following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the president’s ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential election and his attempts to obscure them.
If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 22, 2019
In order for Trump to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote to convict him.
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