Trump is publicly abusing his office oath live on television

THE PRESIDENT TRUMP has moved his request for foreign assistance for his re-election campaign from private phone calls to live television. On Thursday he publicly repeated his appeal to the Ukrainian government to investigate the democratic candidate Joe Biden – and invited China to investigate Biden as well. China is a great opponent of the United States and a dictatorship that does not respect the rule of law. Even considering Mr. Trump's record of destroying the rules of presidential behavior, it is surprising that he believes these appeals do not violate his oath of office. It would be even more shocking – and more damaging to our political system – if congressional Republicans were in agreement with him.

It is difficult to know where to begin in describing the serious inadequacy of Mr. Trump's behavior. But we will start with the facts: the accusations that the president suggests to the Ukraine and China to investigate are manifestly false. Abundant evidence denies the accusation that Biden, as vice president, requested the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son Hunter, who was then on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. And Trump's claim that Hunter Biden took "billions of dollars" from China is even more ridiculous. Hunter Biden joined the advisory board of an investment fund with Chinese partners, but, his lawyer said, he did not get any returns or compensation.

Trump is trying to draw attention to the commercial involvement of Hunter Biden with foreign partners who probably hoped to exchange his surname. This is inconvenient – but no more than the commercial favors obtained by Trump's children from China and other countries. If there were concrete evidence of wrongdoing in these reports, they should not be investigated by foreign authorities, but by the Justice Department, which could adequately ask other governments for cooperation, should it be needed.

That a request for a foreign investigation of a US citizen comes directly from the president, in the absence of any legitimate US investigation, is a blatant violation of that citizen's rights and the rule of law in the United States. The fact that Trump does it in front of the cameras makes him no less striking: in doing so, he is trying to normalize what should be absolutely unacceptable presidential behavior.

The historian Robert Kagan has recently described in The Post what the consequences would be if the actions of Mr. Trump weren't canceled. "Sending the signal that other governments can get the favor of a US president by helping to dig out dirt on his political opponents would open our political system and our foreign policy to intervention and manipulation on a global scale," he said. written. "Any government in the world that wishes to influence US foreign policy will have an incentive to come to an incumbent president with information about his potential political opponents."

Trump is in the midst of trade negotiations with Xi Jinping's Chinese regime, and he sometimes conversed directly with Mr. Xi about the terms of an agreement. Will you raise your request for a survey on Mr. Biden at the next deal with the Chinese ruler? "It's something we can start thinking about," Trump said on Thursday. Trump sees nothing wrong with making such requests. What about congressional republicans? Do they really want to see such a use of the president's office become the new normality of American politics?

Read more:

Paul Waldman: Trump's impeachment strategy that is angry, bizarre and self-defeating

Jennifer Rubin: Democrats must understand why Trump is going off the rails

David Ignatius: How can Congress force the Trump administration to provide testimonials and documents?

Danielle Allen: In an impeachment hearing, we're all sworn

Dana Milbank: Trump's defense against impeachment is made up of alligators and snakes

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