GOP silent after Trump admits pressuring Ukraine to help him with 2020 rival

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Several Republicans who once condemned election interference have refused to comment so far on Trump's latest admission.

Recent reports that Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter, his potential 2020 opponent, and withheld military aid to the country over the matter have been met with general silence from Republicans in Congress, despite many of them speaking out against Trump previously for inviting foreign interference in the upcoming 2020 election.

The Washington Post noted this week that members of Congress including Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and John Thune (R-SD) have so far either refused to comment about Trump's illicit activities or claimed they needed more time to look into the matter. Both in the past explicitly condemned election interference.

Trump has been accused of pressuring Ukraine to investigate whether Biden used his office to shut down a corruption probe into Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings by then-prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. The former vice president's son, Hunter Biden, was on the board of directors of Burisma Holdings at the time. So far there has been no evidence to suggest Vice President Biden acted illegally or had a hand in Shokin's eventual ousting by the Ukrainian Parliament.

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This week, Trump confirmed Biden had come up in a phone call earlier in the year with Zelensky. He claimed a readout of the call, to be released later, would prove he'd done nothing wrong.

Trump previously came under fire for inviting foreign interference in the 2020 election, saying in an interview with ABC News that he would accept dirt on his opponent from a foreign adversary.

Accepting dirt on political opponents from foreign governments is against the law.

Several Republicans at the time condemned the comment.

"We know we shouldn't tolerate any foreign intervention in American elections," Thune said in June. "Period."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke more warmly of Trump, but cautioned, "I know this president would not want any foreign government interfering in this election."

Ernst (R-IA) reacted more bluntly, saying, "I wouldn't accept material like that."

Not all Republicans were critical of Trump. Some, like Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) dismissed Trump's comment as unimportant, claiming it "was a hypothetical," and adding that the media reaction to Trump's statement was "an overreaction to the whole thing." House Minority Whip Steve Scalise also dismissed the Trump's statement as "hypothetical."

Perdue did not respond to a request to clarify his previous statement, given that the situation is no longer hypothetical. Nor did McCarthy respond to an email asking if he stands by his previous statement claiming Trump would not want election interference, given the fact that Trump actively solicited such interference.

Thune also refused to say whether or not he stands by his previous statement about not tolerating foreign intervention in American elections.

Since the Ukrainian scandal broke, demands for an impeachment inquiry have skyrocketed among Democratic members of Congress. Politico reported that at least 160 House Democrats support an impeachment inquiry, which is well over half the caucus.

Meanwhile, the latest abuse of power by Trump has been met largely with silence by Republicans, even those who just months ago claimed to stand strong against foreign interference in American elections.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.