GOP refuses to condemn Trump for asking other countries to help his reelection


Some Republicans are defending Trump's demands that China and Ukraine investigate his political rivals.

Republicans have been largely silent since Trump stood on the White House lawn on Thursday and requested Ukraine and China investigate his 2020 election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Neither House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have responded directly to the latest attempt by Trump to try and persuade foreign leaders to investigate his political rival.

Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received a letter from McCarthy asking that she stop the impeachment inquiry.


Additionally on Thursday, the Financial Times contacted all 53 Republican senators about Trump's comments about China. Not a single office responded to express any concern.

The relative silence so far contrasts with some Republican lawmakers' remarks immediately following the release of a whistleblower complaint that alleged Trump had asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden during a phone call in July.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) made his concerns known at the time, tweeting, "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."

Romney was initially quiet on Trump's latest comments, but released a statement condemning them later on Friday.

"By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling," he tweeted.

Others who have spoken out on the matter, by contrast, have largely refused to condemn Trump's actions.

At a town hall on Thursday, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who is up for reelection in 2020, parroted White House talking points, claiming Trump wanted to investigate Biden in an effort to ferret out corruption. There is no evidence Biden acted inappropriately when, in 2016, he pushed for Ukraine to oust former prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, who was at the time investigating a company on which Biden's son was a board member. (As some have since noted, the investigation into that company had been dormant for some time when Biden made the request.)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), also facing reelection in 2020, has not issued a public comment about Trump's latest comments. He is, however, headlining a fundraiser for Trump in New York City this weekend, and has consistently reiterated his unequivocal support for Trump's reelection campaign.

One Republican senator, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, did obliquely call out Trump, saying, "Hold up: Americans don't look to Chinese commies for the truth." However, he focused his ire on China, before pivoting to attacking Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and a leading figure in the impeachment inquiry thus far.

On the House side, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), who already announced he is not running for reelection in 2020, called Trump's request that China investigate Biden "terrible," adding, "We are in a tight and complex trade negotiation with China now and so you are potentially giving them something to hold over your head."

Rather than defend Trump, several Republicans have chosen to attack Democrats seeking more information about Trump's activities.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) bragged about going on a conservative radio show Friday morning to attack "the Democrats' vendetta" against Trump.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), also up for reelection in 2020, went on social media to make false allegations about Schiff.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who is up for reelection in 2020 and facing a tough Republican primary, stood by Trump on Friday morning, claiming there was "no evidence" Trump committed impeachable offenses.

It is illegal to solicit election assistance from foreign nationals.

Throughout his tenure, Republicans have mostly stood by Trump no matter what scandals he has faced, including after an old "Access Hollywood" tape showed him admitting to groping women without their consent.

Many GOP lawmakers also stood with Trump in 2017, when he called white nationalists marching in Charlottesville "very fine people."

Trump has faced little condemnation from his party even after siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own U.S. intelligence agencies; after he referred to Haiti and several African nations as "shithole countries;" after the release of the Mueller report, which detailed his campaign's extensive links to Russia and outlined at least 10 instances of possible obstruction; and after his administration implemented a harsh, zero-tolerance family separation policy at the southwest border.

The party largely sided with Trump even after he attacked four congresswomen of color, suggesting they "go back" to their home countries, a common racist trope, despite three of them having been born in the United States.

This article has been updated to include additional comments from Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT).

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.