In television interviews, aisles and home events, Republican lawmakers who have President Trump's fate in their hands find it difficult to answer "yes" or "no" to a question: False is it for a US president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival?
President Trump's request in a July 25 phone call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden – and subsequent comments to journalists that China should also investigate Bidens – left the Republic Capitol. Hill lacked a coherent or unified response about a president who still enjoyed strong approval ratings among Republicans.
A recent Quinnipiac poll found 68% of Republicans said asking a foreign leader to help defeat an opponent in an upcoming election is not an impeachable offense. But no small number of GOP senators seem unable to respond if they seek the help of a foreign leader in defeating an opponent even when it is not standard.
Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican for reelection next year in a purple state, declined to answer directly at least five times when journalists in Denver asked Thursday if the president's conduct was wrong. . Asked whether it would be okay for an American president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival, Gardner replied, "Well look, this is what we're going to do. The Senate Intelligence Committee is having an investigation, a bipartisan investigation. Unfortunately, though, what we have seen is a very important political process. "
Asked again, Gardner replied," This is an answer you get from a very serious investigation. "
On Thursday, "CBS This Morning" co-hosts Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil pressed Republican Senator Rand Paul if the president incorrectly asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. And over and over again, Paul skirted a direct reply. Here's their exchange:
"Is it wrong, or not?" asked "CBS This Morning" co-host Anthony Mason, of the president's request to investigate the Bidens.
"Well the ̵1; I don't think it's wrong or wrong," replied Paul.
"It's okay for the president to -" Mason asked.
"Well, no, let me finish," said Paul. "What I'm saying is that the help we provide to other countries should be dependent on behavior. And if there is or Ukraine we should try to eradicate corruption, yes."
"It's specifically about Mr. Biden," Mason
"Well, I don't know, ask Americans if they think it's $ 50,000 -" Paul said.
"I'm asking you. You're a senator," Mason said.
"Well I know, but ask Americans do you think $ 50,000 a month that Hunter Biden's acquisition could have cost him?" Paul said.
"You are running for president in 2016 – would you do it if you were elected?" co-host Tony Dokoupil said.
"I think everyone has a different way of approaching things," Paul said.
"You, sir, you," said Dokoupil.
"Well, the thing is, now we're coming down to whether it's personality and how he interacts with a phone call. Do you impeach people because he has a more direct approach?" Paul said.
"This is not a question of impeachment. It is a question, right or wrong to ask a foreign leader to ask an election? With – through – nearly $ 400 million of assistance hanging over his head." ? " Said Mason.
"I think the thing is, are you saying we can't investigate corruption if it happens as a political issue?" Paul said.
A handful of Republicans took another tactic, suggesting that the president was joking or unkind when he openly called on China to investigate Bidens in front of dozens of journalists and cameras in White House South Lawn.
Missouri Senator Roy Blunton Sunday that the president had just pressed the press on those comments, a theory also offered by the Florida Senator Marco Rubio although White House made no suggestion.
BRENNAN: Are you comfortable with what the president said in this call for foreign governments Ukraine and China to investigate his political opponents?
BLUNT: Well I- I doubt if China's comment is serious enough to tell you the truth. The president—
BRENNAN: You didn't take the president –
BLUNT: The president –
BRENNAN: – in his words?
BLUNT: No, the president likes to get out of – on the White House aisle. I haven't talked to him about it yet. I don't know what the president is thinking. But I know he loves to fire the press and he does that almost every day …
Some have gone as far as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who says he has found nothing wrong with calling Ukraine like a summary . But Graham had concerns about any request about China.
"I'm okay with what the president did," Graham told WSPA. "I don't think he did anything wrong with talking to Ukraine because it gave us money and assistance. I don't think it's wrong to ask China to investigate. I don't trust China to be fair to anyone Trump, I , or you. So that's not a mistake. "
Republicans will face more questions on the subject when they return from a weekly recession on Tuesday.
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio was among several Republican senators who gave anything critical about the president's request.
"The president should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period. It is inappropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent," Portman told a forum defense Monday in Ohio, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Mitt Romney, arguably the most politically liberal Republican senator of his views, gave his red state a unique lack of support for the president and provided that he would not be up for reelection until 2024, offered a sharp criticism of the president. by any GOP senator.
A Utah reporter asked if he was surprised that the only GOP senator called in the president, Romney had this answer:
"I think everyone understands that asking for a foreign government to investigate one's political opponent is wrong., "Romney said. "I don't think there's any exception."