Key Republican senators break with Trump over probing Biden
US President Donald Trump’s push to investigate his top 2020 rival, Joe Biden, has been rejected by several key Republicans, who think the presidential office should not be used to smear a political opponent.
A whistleblower has recently revealed that Trump, during a July phone call, asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate possible corruption by Biden and his son, Hunter.
The act has led Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives, where they have the required votes to pass the motion and send it to the Senate, where the Republicans are in a 53-47 majority.
To remove Trump from office, the Democrats would need 67 votes in the Senate, which seems out of reach in the first look. However, there are reports that some of Trump’s key opponents within his own party could switch sides and take many others with them.
Those key figures include Senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse and, rather surprisingly, Lindsey Graham, who have over the past few days distanced themselves from the idea of launching a politically-motivated probe into the Bidens.
Romney was the most prominent Republican in the pack to come out against Trump, after the president asked China to carry out a similar investigation.
“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,” Romney said in a statement.
The remarks drew fire from Trump, who hit back by calling on voters to “impeach” the Utah senator.
Collins was also put off by Trump’s remarks, saying it was “completely inappropriate” for the US president to ask China to do the probe.
“I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent,” she told the Bangor Daily News. “It’s completely inappropriate.”
The Maine senator has a history of breaking ranks and voting against her party over the past years.
Graham, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and Trump’s close ally, has also made it clear that he is against the idea of a politically-motivated probe and would not get involved in the “circus.”
“We’re not going to do anything,” Graham told reporters when asked what would his reaction to Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine would be. “I have no interest in opening up that front.”
“I don’t want to turn the Senate into a circus,” said Graham. “I want somebody to look at the conflict of interest outside of politics.”
Trump, despite warnings within the party to take back his China remarks, has remained defiant and doubled down on his position instead.
He said Thursday that Beijing also needed to investigate Biden “because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”
That statement sparked pushback from Sasse, whom Trump has endorsed for reelection in 2020.
“Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth. If the Biden kid broke laws by selling his name to Beijing, that’s a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps,” Sasse told the Omaha World-Herald.