Top House Democrat: Trump did ‘on camera’ what Romney warned about

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) on Thursday called on Republicans to “put our country ahead of their political party” following President Trump‘s latest comments asking Ukraine and China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Cicilline highlighted a September tweet from Sen. Mitt Romney in which the Utah Republican, who has regularly broken with Trump on policy issues, said Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Biden would be “troubling in the extreme.”

Romney made the remarks amid reports that Trump had urged Ukraine in a call to open an investigation into Biden, a top 2020 presidential rival, and before a White House summary of the call confirmed key details and before Trump on Thursday publicly called for such a probe.

“The President just did exactly this (on camera, no less). It’s time for Republicans to put our country ahead of their political party,” tweeted Cicilline, the chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

Trump told reporters Wednesday that he “would recommend [Ukraine] start an investigation into the Bidens,” after being asked about a July 25 phone call in which he pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Trump also said that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” saying that while he has yet to explicitly ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate the 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner, it is “certainly something we can start thinking about.”

Democrats and some Republican lawmakers have lambasted Trump for privately calling for Ukraine to investigate a political rival during a July 25 call, with many lawmakers calling it an abuse of power and Democrats saying the move bolsters their case for impeachment.

The Biden campaign issued a statement calling the latest public remarks on Thursday “a grotesque choice of lies over truth and self over country.”

Few Republicans have weighed in yet on Trump publicly urging Ukraine and China to open investigations into Biden. The president’s remarks Thursday also come as Washington and Beijing are seeking to secure a trade deal between the two countries.

Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine was at the center of a whistleblower report that led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to announce the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry in September.

The president has claimed the report is inaccurate, though a summary of the discussion released by the White House backed up many key details in the complaint, primarily Trump encouraging Ukraine’s president to work with his personal lawyer to investigate Biden.

Romney has reportedly expressed concerns about the whistleblower’s allegations despite other Senate Republicans’ skepticism about the complaint, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most vocal Senate allies, telling reporters that Romney was the only senator to express reservations about it in a meeting last week.

“Mitt Romney doesn’t like the president and he’s going to say a lot of things I don’t agree with,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told reporters. 

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