'Brazen, unprecedented, wrong and appalling': Mitt Romney unloads on Donald Trump's appeal for China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and calls it obviously 'politically motivated'

Senator Mitt Romney fired off a pair of tweets on Friday that condemned President Trump's 'brazen and unprecedented' requests that foreign governments investigate political rival Joe Biden.
Romney, the Republican Party's failed 2012 nominee for president, issued the public condemnation of the president's actions after a whistle-blower blew the lid off Trump's requests to get Ukraine to probe Biden and his son Hunter.
His criticism, the first public condemnation of the president's actions by a Senate Republican, came as some congressional Republicans have rallied around Trump, with many more remaining silent during a congressional recess. 
'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,' Romney wrote Friday.

'By all appearances, the President's brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling,' he added.

Romney had earlier surprised political observers last month with a tweet that also raised serious concerns about new disclosures about the president's July phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskey. 
'If the President asked or pressured Ukraine's president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out,' Romney wrote then. He hasn't tweeted about the issue since. 
Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse condemned Trump's remarks Thursday night. 'Hold up: Americans don't look to Chinese commies for the truth. If the Biden kid broke laws by selling his name to Beijing, that's a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps,' he told the Omaha World-Herald.
Another former GOP presidential candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, dismissed Trump's comments on the White House South lawn Thursday that Ukraine and China should investigate Biden. 
'I don't think it's a real request,' Rubio said in Florida Friday, speculating that Trump may have been trying to get a rise out of reporters. 
'I don't know if that's a real request or him just needling the press knowing you guys were going to get outraged by it. He's pretty good at getting everyone fired up and the media responded right on task,' Rubio said. 
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst defended a whistle-blower who brought forward a complaint about Trump's Ukraine request – even as she faced down an Iowa voter at a town hall by asking: 'Where is the line.' 
Sen. Mitt Romney called out Trump's 'brazen and unprecedented' appeals for foreign investigations of Joe Biden
Sen. Mitt Romney called out Trump's 'brazen and unprecedented' appeals for foreign investigations of Joe Biden
He said it 'strains credulity' to suggest it was anything but 'politically motivated'
He said it 'strains credulity' to suggest it was anything but 'politically motivated'

'Whistleblowers should be protected,' Ernst said. 'I stand with [Iowa Senator] Chuck Grassley on this. We have laws in place,' she said. 
But she stopped short of condemnation of the president's conduct. 'The president is going to say what the president is going to do. It's up to us as members of the Congress to continue working with our allies making sure that we remain strong in a face of adversity,' she said, NBC reported.
If the House votes to impeach Trump, the articles of impeachment would then face what amounts to a trial in the Senate, where two-thirds senators would need to vote to convict for him to be removed from office. 
On the other side of the Capitol, House Democrats on Friday demanded Ukraine-related documents from Vice President Mike Pence. They asked for what information he was provided about Trump's July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, and about the whistle-blower's claim that his own trip to President Zelensky's inauguration was nixed amid the push for the probe of the Bidens. 
Trump said Thursday that if Ukraine 'were honest about it,' it 'would start a major investigation against the Bidens. It's a very simple answer.' 
'Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens,' Trump insisted, 'because what happened with the Bidens in China is just about as bad.
'President Zelensky – if it were me I would recommend they start an investigation into the Bidens because nobody has any doubt that they aren't crooked,' he added, speaking of the president of Ukraine.
On Friday, Trump predicted he would prevail in any impeachment trial in the Senate, where the GOP has control.
'They're all in line,' he said of House Democrats. 'Because even though many of them don't want to vote, they have no choice. They have to follow their leadership. And then we'll get it to the Senate, and we're going to win,' he predicted. 
The brushback from Romney came as Trump once again defended his comments about seeking assistance from Ukraine to investigate his rival – after tweeting that he has an 'absolute right' to do so.
Trump said  he had an 'obligation' to request assistance from foreign governments to investigate alleged corruption and asks he made of China and Ukraine were not politically motivated in any way. 
'As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries. 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!' Trump tweeted Friday. 
He had earlier suggested on that China showered $1.5 billion on Hunter Biden in order to influence his father and win favorable trade deals with the United States.      
The president on Friday insisted that the foreign investigations he's demanding are about Hunter Biden 'pillaging these countries and hurting us,' not his father's bid to become the next President of the United States.
He couldn't provide an example when asked of a time he asked a foreign government to investigate anyone who wasn't a political opponent.
'You know, we would have to look,' Trump said. 
Asked if he would cooperate with House investigators as the demand documents, Trump responded: 'I don’t know. That’s up to the lawyers.' 
Trump also said his push for Biden probes was not linked to a China trade deal, a meeting at the White House for the Ukrainian president or a belief he could lose the 2020 presidential election to Barack Obama's vice president.
'Everything to me is about corruption. We want to find out what happened with 2016,' he said. 'I don’t care about Biden’s campaign. But I do care about corruption. His campaign, that's up to him.'  
Trump's defense of his conduct, which has accelerated a Democratic impeachment inquiry, came as Ukraine´s Prosecutor General said on Friday that his office would review the case of an energy company linked to Hunter Biden. 
The prosecutor said he is reviewing all the cases that were closed by his predecessors – including several related to the owner of gas company Burisma Holdings where former Vice President Joe Biden´s son sat on the board of directors and was reportedly compensated $50,000 a month.
The developments in Ukraine come after newly-revealed Ukraine texts show Trump administration officials discussing efforts to get a probe and push a set of talking points – including by leveraging a presidential visit.  
Ukrainian prosecutor Ruslan Ryaboshapka told reporters in Kyiv that prosecutors are auditing all the cases that were closed or dismissed by former prosecutors, including several related to Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of the gas company Burisma that hired Hunter Biden in 2014, at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration´s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv.
Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.
'We are now reviewing all the cases that were closed or split into several parts or were investigated before, in order to be able to rule to reverse those cases where illegal procedural steps were taken,' Ryaboshapka said.
Asked by The Associated Press about Trump´s comment Thursday that the U.S. has an 'absolute right' to ask foreign leaders to investigate corruption cases, Zelensky said that Ukraine is 'open' and that all the cases under investigation are 'transparent.'
The Prosecutor General´s Office later said that among the cases they are reviewing, there are 15 where Zlochevsky is mentioned. None of the Zlochevsky-related cases has been revived yet, they said.
They did not specify how many, if any, were related to Hunter Biden´s work at Burisma.
Ryaboshapka was mentioned in the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who assured Trump that Ryaboshapka was 'his man' and that he would resume investigations into Burisma.
The prosecutor general insisted on Friday that he did not feel any pressure over the Burisma case.
'Not a single foreign or Ukrainian official or politician has called me or tried to influence my decisions regarding specific criminal cases,' he said.
A whistleblower last month revealed that Trump in a phone call asked Zelensky to resume the probe into Joe Biden and his son. The July 25 call has since triggered an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

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