The Latest: Rubio thinks Trump’s China request was in jest

Political
Mitt Romney

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, center, talks with reporters as he heads to the Senate for a vote, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida tells reporters he thinks Trump was just kidding when he publicly asked China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I don’t think it’s a real request,” Rubio told reporters on Friday. “I think he did it to get you guys. I think he did it to provoke you to ask me and others and get outraged by it.”

Trump’s public request to China Thursday was similar to one he privately made to Ukraine that triggered a House Democratic impeachment inquiry.

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12:30 p.m.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is criticizing President Donald Trump for calling on China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump on Thursday called for China to investigate Biden, his son Hunter and his business deals in the country. A similar request to Ukraine has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-controlled House.

Republicans were relatively muted in their reaction. But Friday, Romney tweeted: “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”

Romney last week had been the rare Republican to warn that the allegations regarding Trump’s dealings with Ukraine were “deeply troubling.”

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12:15 a.m.

Republican leaders have had two reactions to President Donald Trump’s public call for a foreign government to investigate political rival Joe Biden: silence and support.

Several House and Senate leaders stayed mum Thursday as Trump escalated the controversy that has fueled an impeachment inquiry and plowed through another norm of American politics. Foreign interference in elections has long been viewed as a threat to U.S. sovereignty and democracy.

The responses followed a familiar pattern in the Trump era. As the president broke another political barrier, his party leaders made no public effort to rein him in. Critics have argued that reaction has only emboldened the president while damaging the party and the presidency. Trump allies argue the president’s rule-breaking rhetoric is not as important as his policies, which they support.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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