Republicans are struggling to find a unified way to spin the fact that President Trump publicly called on China to probe former Vice President Joe Biden.
The latest to contribute to the hodgepodge messaging: National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.
During a pool spray with reporters on Monday morning, Kudlow was asked if President Trump was joking when he said in front of cameras last week that China should investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden. That narrative — that Trump was just joking, or trolling China — has emerged as the most popular Republican defense of the President’s remarks.
“I don’t honestly know, I don’t honestly know,” Kudlow said Monday.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appeared to diverge from the joking rhetoric as well earlier Monday. When he was asked about the sarcasm defense on “Fox and Friends,” McCarthy outright denied that Trump actually asked China to investigate, pivoting to harp on the perceived importance of probing Biden.
“You watch what the President said, he’s not saying China should investigate,” McCarthy said. “But let’s get to the clear point. If I’m a member of Congress and I break the law and there should be an investigation, and I run for another office, you’d still investigate me. More people in America want to investigate what Biden has done and his son, than want to impeach this president. But somehow the Democrats want to deny that.”
Over the weekend, a handful of Republicans appeared to assemble some sort of unified response to the ordeal. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) all insisted on Sunday that Trump was joking or not being earnest with his remark, arguing instead that the President was actually just trying to get the “press all spun up about this.”
“You really think he was serious about thinking that China’s going to investigate the Biden family?” Jordan asked when questioned about the offense during an interview with ABC News.
Regardless of whether Trump was “trolling” when he said a foreign power should investigate one of his main political rivals, the President still said it. In front of reporters. While the cameras rolled.
“Well I would think if they were honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer,” Trump said of Ukraine last week before adding, “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens. Because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”