Experts see a president and administration only digging a deeper hole

President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed criticism from House Democrats and others over his renewed calls for foreign governments to investigate his domestic political rivals, even as text messages from U.S. diplomats suggest he insisted of trading a White House visit with Ukraine’s president for just that. Experts see a president and administration only digging a deeper hole — and unable to help themselves or build a strategy to allow congressional Republicans to counter House Democrats’ message that Trump is corrupt and putting his own interests over those of the United States. In a morning tweet, the president wrote that he has “an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries.” That tweet came about 22 hours after he stood on the South Lawn of the White House and again called for the Ukrainian government to look into Joe Biden’s work as vice president to oust what Western officials viewed as a corrupt prosecutor there, while son Hunter Biden was being paid as a board member of a Ukrainian gas firm. Trump contends the former vice president did so to help his son. But then Trump, unmoved by suggestions that his request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is an impeachable offense, made an incredible statement. “And, by the way,” he said, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”The next morning, as Washington was buzzing about a slew of text messages released by House Democrats, Trump again denied doing anything wrong. “It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!” he tweeted.

Experts were astounded by Trump’s message to China — especially because he made it after talking about the “power” he believes he has over Xi Jinping amid stalled trade talks. “This should put to bed any debate as to whether Trump asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. Before today, his supporters tried to challenge the whistleblower complaint and attack its author,” Walter Shaub, who resigned as Trump’s first director of the Office of Government Ethics over objections about perceived lapses by the administration, told Roll Call. “But now millions of people around the world have seen and heard him do what the whistleblower accused him of doing,” Shaub said, referring to the president and an intelligence community whistleblower who prompted House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. “There’s no more debating the facts. He did it. The only question left is whether we will tolerate a sitting president soliciting foreign interference in the very thing that makes us a republic: our elections.”