Why Trump call for China to investigate Bidens is baffling
Currently facing an impeachment inquiry over soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election, Donald Trump stood at the White House this morning and solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election.
As another Republican President was fond of saying: "There you go again".
The President's disdain for conventions and norms is testing not only the powers of his office, but also his personal standing in the Republican party.
In 2016 Donald Trump called on "Russia, if you're listening" to help dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton, this morning it was Ukraine and the communist party of China.
"They (Ukraine) should investigate the Bidens", the President said in reference to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
"Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens.
"Because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine."
Congress is already investigating the request to Ukraine - this morning's comments will add fuel to an already furious fire that will burn until impeachment.
China, as well as being a "threat to the world", according to Donald Trump just a week ago, is also in the midst of trade negotiations with the United States.
Both nations have slapped tariffs on products imported from each other and the rhetoric has been intensifying on both sides of the pacific.
Chinese trade delegates will be in the US next week.
It makes today's comments so much more baffling and potentially incriminating given the target of the request.
Joe Biden, as well as being Vice President to Barack Obama, currently leads the Democratic field in the race to take on Donald Trump in 2020.
Of more than 75 national polls that have put Donald Trump and Joe Biden head to head the President leads in only one – a Fox News poll from last week had Biden leading 52-38.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Vice President Biden or Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
"Donald Trump is flailing and melting down on national television, desperately clutching for conspiracy theories that have been debunked and dismissed by independent, credible news organisations," Joe Biden's communications director Kate Bedingfield said.
"Donald Trump is terrified Joe Biden will beat him like a drum."
The former Vice President told a campaign rally last night he's "not going anywhere".
The request to China comes a week after the release of a telephone transcript showing President Trump asking Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to reopen investigations into the Bidens.
"I would like you to do us a favor (sic)," Donald Trump said according to a record released by the White House.
"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son.
"Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…
"It sounds horrible to me."
That call was enough to prompt a whistleblower to file a report describing Donald Trump as "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election".
Supporters of the President rubbished the claims of wrongdoing and downplayed the pressure coming from Donald Trump even after the US withheld military aid from Ukraine.
This morning will make that argument so much harder.
No longer is the request in a transcript, it's now on replay across cable television.
Australia has also been dragged into the scandal with the President enlisting the help of Scott Morrison to investigate the actions of then UK High Commissioner Alexander Downer in 2016.
Our Prime Minister, according to a statement from his office, said Australia was "ready to assist and cooperate".
However the Australian circumstance is different because the President was asking Scott Morrison to investigate an Australian (not a potential presidential rival) and because Ambassador Joe Hockey had already offered Australia's help in a May 2019 letter.
With China and Ukraine the request is much more sinister.
Ellen Weintraub, the chair of the Federal Election Commission, took to the President's favourite medium, Twitter, to show her frustration.
"Is this thing on?" she tweeted with a link to a statement from June this year.
"It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election", that statement says.
"This is not a novel concept."
It is clear Donald Trump is enlisting the help of foreign powers to damage his political opponents.
It is also clear Donald Trump won't be changing. His disregard for political norms and conventions is likely to stretch beyond the impeachment coming his way, if his party stands by him.
But strap in, because this will only get wilder as 2020 approaches.