By Janice Hisle
ERIE, Pa.—Former President Donald Trump on the campaign trail is urging Congress to shut down further military aid to the Ukraine, citing allegations of corrupt ties involving Democrat President Joe Biden in that country.
Speaking to thousands of supporters at a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 29, Mr. Trump also called on fellow Republicans to fight harder for investigations into emerging allegations of Democrat wrongdoing.
“The biggest complaint that I get is that the Republicans find out this information and then they do nothing about it!” he said, drawing cheers during his 110-minute speech in the a mostly filled 9,300-seat Erie Insurance Arena.
“Any Republican that doesn’t act on Democrat fraud should be immediately primaried—and get out,” Mr. Trump said.
But he commended some Republican lawmakers for working diligently to pry loose information about the reports that Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, allegedly “shook down a Ukrainian energy boss” for $10 million. In exchange, the Bidens allegedly would insulate the energy company from “all kinds of problems,” Mr. Trump said.
On July 20, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released details of the alleged bribery scheme, which a confidential informant relayed to the FBI. It was unclear what, if anything, the FBI did to follow up on the informant’s claims.
The White House dismissed the allegations as “claims that have been debunked for years.”
The current president is “compromised” and is “dragging us into a global conflict on behalf of the very same country, Ukraine, that apparently paid his family all of these millions of dollars,” Mr. Trump, adding that said lawmakers need to act.
America has paid about $113 billion to help Ukraine defend itself since Russia invaded its borders in February 2022.
Mr. Trump says Congress should refuse to take further action to assist Ukraine until the FBI, IRS, and Department of Justice “hand over every scrap of evidence they have” about the Bidens’ dealings with the Ukrainian authorities.
“We have to know, and the public deserves to know,” he said.
“This is the biggest scandal in U.S. history,” Mr. Trump said, faulting “the fake news media” for failing to report on the allegations extensively, like they did with the allegations of Russia collusion made against his administration.
“The Bidens’ colossal scams, money laundering, and criminality make Hillary Clinton look like a beautiful angel,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd chuckled at his description of his 2016 Democrat rival.
Republicans Shying Away
Mr. Trump said that while many Democrats have avoided accountability for alleged wrongdoing, he has been a repeated target of Democrat-led persecutions.
“The radical lunatic Democrats, they impeach me, they indict me, they rig our elections. And the Republicans … they just don’t fight the way they’re supposed to fight,” Mr. Trump said, calling on the GOP to stand stronger.
Two attempts to impeach Mr. Trump failed while he was in office. One of those impeachments involved his phone call to the Ukrainian president, inquiring about the activities of the Bidens. The second impeachment related to Jan. 6, 2021, when a protest of the 2020 election results turned deadly destructive at the U.S. Capitol.
Now, more than two years later, prosecutors are poised to indict Mr. Trump on Jan. 6-related charges; he has already been indicted for alleged mishandling of documents with classified markings after he left the presidency.
Mr. Trump says his foes are purposely timing the criminal indictments to torpedo his 2024 campaign, constituting what he calls a new type of “election interference.”
Mr. Trump said Mr. Biden’s DOJ is targeting him precisely because he is the strongest political threat to Mr. Biden and also because he is vowing to expose “wrongdoing.”
“I am the only one that is going to be able to stop them,” Mr. Trump said. That’s why the Democrats have launched “a very coordinated attack” against him.
“I’m being indicted for you … more than 200 million people that love our country,” he said.
Mr. Trump vowed that, if elected, he would appoint “a real special prosecutor” to investigate the Biden family’s activities.
Meanwhile, some Republicans “sit back and they say they have other priorities,” he said.
“If these corrupt persecutions of our people succeed, they will complete their takeover of this country and destroy your way of life forever … We have one chance to save it, and that chance is called 2024!”
Debating the Debate
During a more lighthearted exchange with the audience, Mr. Trump wondered aloud whether he ought to join a debate with his Republican rivals on Aug. 23.
“I haven’t made a commitment, one way or the other,” he said.
He asked the audience to set aside the “entertainment” value of having him on the debate stage.
Then, he asked them to think about the consequences of the debate—“we have to save our country.”
In light of recent opinion polls showing him as the runaway favorite for the GOP presidential nomination, Mr. Trump said it doesn’t make sense for him to go up against rivals that he’s far outdistancing.
He sees little reason to show up at a debate and “get hit by a hostile network,” and also get hit by his competitors, who are mostly “professional politicians.”
“They’re not stupid people; they just happen to be at zero” in the polls, he said, sparking laughs from the audience.
Then, he asked his supporters for their opinion.
“Should we do the debate?” he asked. “No!” came a thunderous roar in unison from the audience.
“Should we not do the debate?” The audience responded, “Yes!”
Will Biden Be on Ballot?
Later, Mr. Trump asked the audience another key question about the 2024 race. In addition to being plagued by the bribery allegations, Mr. Joe Biden has committed embarrassing public gaffes, leading to concerns about the 80-year-old Democrat’s fitness to withstand the rigors of another term as president.
This has led to rumblings that Democrats might find a substitute for Mr. Biden as their 2024 presidential nominee.
“Who thinks he’s going to be the candidate? … Are we going to be running against Biden?” Mr. Trump asked. The audience’s verdict: “No!”
The audience said “Yes,” when Mr. Trump asked whether “somebody else” would be the Democrats’ presidential nominee.
“See, I just saved $300,000 doing a poll!” Mr. Trump joked, touching off waves of laughter as he added, “And that poll is much better than a poll done by a pollster, in my opinion.”