Lindsey Graham Criticizes Trump for Asking China to Investigate Biden, Says It Was 'Stupid,' and a 'Bad Idea'

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham this week criticized President Donald Trump for publicly asking China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden in an interview with Axios.

During the interview with reporter Jonathan Swan for Axios on HBO, the South Carolina Republican called the president's move "stupid" and a "bad idea." "As to asking China to look into Biden, that was stupid," he said. "Nobody believes that China would be fair to Biden, Trump, me or you, or anybody. Bad idea. That didn't last very long."

Graham added: "I think that's a frustrated Trump who feels like there's two different games, that people in [the media] are never gonna really sit down and talk to Hunter Biden unless it's a softball interview."

Graham's remarks were made after Swan asked him to comment on GOP Senator Mitt Romney calling Trump's actions related to Ukraine and China "wrong and appalling." In his response, Graham implied that he did not believe that the president's actions amounted to an impeachment offense. "Well if you think the letter is impeachable, I mean the transcript, just say so," he said. "If you don't like it, that's fine. But did the president commit a crime on the phone call?"

Earlier this month, Trump urged the Chinese government to probe Biden, one of his potential 2020 rivals, in comments made to reporters outside the White House. "China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine," the president said.

Although he did not ask Chinese President Xi Jinping directly, Trump's public call for an investigation into Biden's family mirrors his controversial July phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he asked his foreign counterpart to probe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. The call is at the heart of a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump, launched by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late last month.

Trump has repeatedly defended the move and claimed that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine. Despite the president's denial of wrongdoing, some Republicans have spoken out against Trump's actions. Earlier this month, GOP Senator Rob Portman said the president should not have asked foreign leaders to probe his potential domestic political rival and called the move "not appropriate."

"The president should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period. It's not appropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent," Portman told The Columbus Dispatch. Despite his condemnation, Portman made clear that he doesn't think Trump's actions amounted to an impeachable offense.

Lindsey Graham
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questions Kelly Craft, President Trump's nominee to be Representative to the United Nations, during her nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. Graham told Axios this week that Trump asking China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden was "stupid" and a "bad idea." Stefani Reynolds/Getty