Donald Trump has claimed former Vice President Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine were illegal and corrupt — but a newly uncovered 2016 letter shows that the same Republicans now backing Trump were firmly behind Biden.
Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry for reportedly pressing Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, reportedly in response to unfounded claims that Biden forced out a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to end an investigation into his son. Though Republicans have publicly backed Trump as the inquiry starts, a letter shows that they were behind Biden’s efforts just three years ago.
The letter was unearthed and published by CNN on Thursday, showing that a bipartisan group of lawmakers backed Biden’s call for Ukraine to root out corruption. In the letter, Republican Rob Portman was among those joining in pressing the then-president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, to take action on “entrenched corruption” in his government.
The 2016 letter showed that Portman and other Republicans stood behind Biden’s demand for reform in Ukraine.
“We recognize that your governing coalition faces not only endemic corruption left from decades of mismanagement and cronyism, but also an illegal armed seizure of territory by Russia and its proxies,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote in the letter. “[We] urge you to press ahead with urgent reforms to the Prosecutor General’s office and judiciary.”
As Vox reported, Portman is now backing Donald Trump in his assertion that he did not withhold military aid to Ukraine in order to press the country to dig up dirt on Biden. The report noted that the letter appears to blow a hole in Trump’s claims that Biden’s actions in Ukraine were improper.
“The letter is a major blow to Trump’s argument that Biden somehow went rogue and tried to get Shokin fired to protect his son,” the report noted. “Biden himself has been incredibly consistent on this point, saying he legitimately pushed for the prosecutor’s ouster with international backing and that he never spoke to his son about his Ukraine work.”
Donald Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry for the reports that he pressed Ukraine into investigating Biden, and on Thursday made new public calls on both Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens, offering unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that Biden was benefiting from both countries. Democrats have been aggressive in the first week of the inquiry, issuing subpoenas to some of the top members of the Trump administration.
Donald Trump has forcefully denied any wrongdoing, calling the impeachment inquiry a “coup” attempt and accusing Democrats leading the investigation of treason.