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Fourth Senate Republican Denounces Trump’s Call for China to Investigate Biden

Sen. Rob Portman at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2018. (Erin Schaff/Reuters)

Senator Rob Portman on Monday joined a small handful of Senate Republicans to criticize President Trump’s remark that China should investigate Joe Biden over his son’s business dealings.

Last week, Trump accused Hunter Biden on Thursday of flying on Air Force Two in 2013 with his father, then the vice president, in order to obtain $1.5 billion from China for his private equity fund.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said. “He got kicked out of the Navy. All of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

The Ohio Republican called Trump’s comments “not appropriate” but stopped short of calling it “an impeachable offense,” saying he does not believe the president’s remark rises to that level.

“It’s not appropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent,” Portman said at the Annual Ohio Defense Forum, which is hosted by The Dayton Development Coalition.

Three other Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska have also denounced Trump’s comment.

Trump’s comments came as he was battered with criticism from both sides of the aisle over his July phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump asked Zelensky to help his administration investigate allegations that the former vice president used his position to help Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings avoid a corruption probe soon after his son was appointed to its board of directors.

“The president should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period,” Portman said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month announced the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into allegations that President Trump withheld Ukrainian military aid unless Ukraine investigated Biden.

“I don’t view it as an impeachable offense,” Portman said. “I think the House frankly rushed to impeachment assuming certain things.”

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