CNN recently reached out to more than 80 offices for Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate to see if any had concerns about President Donald Trump’s public call for foreign governments to investigate Joe Biden, a leading Democratic candidate to replace him as President, and Biden’s son Hunter.
Only a few responded; just a handful have expressed misgivings to CNN, other outlets or in their own statements.
In his own statement that later drew a rebuke from the President, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah called Trump’s words “wrong and appalling.”
“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. By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling,” Romney said in that statement.
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, an occasional critic of Trump’s who is running for reelection in that conservative state, said in a statement to the Omaha World Herald that if Hunter Biden did something wrong, he should be prosecuted in the US courts, not investigated by China.
There’s no evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden received any money from China. And a lawyer for Hunter Biden pushed back on Trump’s characterization, calling it “a gross misrepresentation.”
Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, also reacted critically to Trump’s call for China to investigate the Bidens.
“I think it’s terrible. It’s something that I wouldn’t have done,” Hurd told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on “New Day” on Friday. “China is an adversary. … 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. … So I think that is something that a President of the United States shouldn’t be doing.”
Trump’s public effort to enlist China to investigate a political rival mirrored his moves on a private phone call in July when he urged the President of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. When a whistleblower filed a complaint about the Ukraine matter, it triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House that could doom Trump’s presidency. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden in Ukraine.
But when aides to GOP lawmakers, most of whom are away on a two-week recess, were asked if their bosses had qualms about Trump seeking what amounts to foreign interference in a US election or if they supported the impeachment inquiry, no member of the House or Senate Republican leadership would say it was problematic or should be investigated.
Nor would members of relevant and investigative committees, including the House and Senate Intelligence committees, which are both actively investigating the Ukraine complaint, nor the House and Senate Judiciary committees or the House and Senate committees overseeing foreign affairs and the State Department.
An aide to GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who vowed last week that his committee would “get to the bottom of questions (that) need answers” about Ukraine, responded to an email but declined to comment about Trump’s remarks on China.
A few other Republicans — including Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the number two Senate Republican, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — have expressed misgivings about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine.
Why the silence? Trump holds powerful sway over congressional Republicans, largely because he is wildly popular with the same Republican voters who will decide whether to reelect these lawmakers. Most who defy Trump end up out of office, about the last place any politician wants to be.
Here is the list of Republican lawmakers contacted by CNN, including any responses from them or their aides provided to CNN and other news outlets. This list will update as CNN receives additional responses.
US House of Representatives
This story has been updated and will continue to update with additional developments.