During a Fox News interview on Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump called on Attorney General William Barr to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, over allegations made in a disputed story by an unnamed staff reporter in the New York Post last week.
The call from the president for his attorney general to investigate Hunter Biden comes just two weeks before Election Day 2020.
“We have got to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast,” Trump said in response to a question on the matter from the hosts of “Fox & Friends.”
Trump also said he wanted Barr to “appoint somebody” to investigate the matter before the presidential election takes place, raising serious questions about the political motivations behind this request.
“This is major corruption and this has to be known about before the election,” the president said.
Trump’s comments are extraordinary and though he has done similar things in the past, pushing a member of his cabinet to investigate a political rival clearly suggests an enormous conflict of interest. Presidents in the past have attempted to distance themselves, not involve themselves directly as Trump has done, in such matters.
Trump’s demands have come about in response to an expose published by The Post last week, alleging that information obtained by the president’s personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, revealed corruption on Biden’s part in relation to his son’s business dealings in Ukraine.
Giuliani supplied the tabloid with copies of emails, purportedly to and from Hunter Biden, which supposedly expose the alleged corruption. But the authenticity of the emails has not been independently verified. Past accusations of corruption, too, have been debunked on several occasions by more reputable news organizations.
It’s widely believed by a number of national security experts that the story published by the Post doesn’t carry any weight. Many of those experts also believe there is a strong likelihood that the “evidence” obtained by Giuliani and given to the publication is part of a Russian disinformation campaign meant to hurt Biden’s electoral chances.
Indeed, the FBI is currently investigating whether the materials supplied to Giuliani are part of a plan by the Kremlin to help Trump win reelection.
Allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Hunter Biden, in relation to his business dealings in Ukraine, were dismissed by two Republican-led Senate committees in September. In spite of those findings, Trump and his political allies have continued to claim, without any real evidence, that both Bidens have committed crimes.
Trump himself has lashed out on a number of occasions toward individuals or organizations that refuse to take his claims seriously. Asked by Reuters‘ White House correspondent Jeff Mason on Monday why he continues to call Biden a criminal based on the unverified claims, Trump turned on the reporter and called him a criminal, too.
“You know who’s a criminal here? You’re a criminal for not reporting it,” Trump said.
During the same “Fox & Friends” interview in which Trump demanded Barr take action, the president also implied that the House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) was acting like a criminal.
“This guy, he ought to be put away, or he ought to be, you know, something should happen with him,” Trump said.
In December of 2019, Trump was impeached under two separate articles, one of which was abuse of power related to attempting to coerce leaders in Ukraine to announce an investigation into Biden.
“Using the high powers of his office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government” in the 2020 presidential election, that article of impeachment said.
Trump had demanded that leaders in Ukraine “publicly announce investigations” into Biden, conditioning “two official acts” of his office — providing military aid to Kyiv and hosting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House — on Ukraine’s doing so.
While not necessarily attempting to coerce Barr, Trump’s actions in calling for the attorney general to investigate Biden in a way that would influence the outcome of the election to favor Trump could also be considered an abuse of power.
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