The Slatest

Biden Lashes Out at Trump, Accuses President of Abusing Power to Smear Him

Former Vice President Joe Biden greets guests at the Polk County Democrats' Steak Fry on September 21, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Former Vice President Joe Biden greets guests at the Polk County Democrats’ Steak Fry on September 21, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden went on the offensive Saturday, angrily lashing out at President Donald Trump for what he described as an “overwhelming abuse of power” amid reports that the commander in chief called on the leader of Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son. “Trump’s doing this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me,” Biden told reporters in Des Moines, Iowa.

The response came after the former vice president angrily wagged his finger at a reporter who asked him whether he had intervened on behalf of his son with the Ukrainian government. Biden said the question was ridiculous and called on the media to change the focus toward Trump. “You should be looking at Trump,” Biden said. “Everybody looked at this and everybody who’s looked at it said there’s nothing there. Ask the right question.” While he was shaking hands with supporters, Biden made clear that he would not hesitate to take aim at Trump. “I know what I’m up against, a serial abuser. That’s what this guy is. He abuses power any way he can,” Biden said. “This crosses the line.”

Biden has yet to call for impeachment proceedings against Trump like other 2020 contenders, but said lawmakers should be looking into the allegations. “The House should investigate this. This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power,” Biden said. “We have never seen anything like this from any president.” He also said that depending on what the lawmakers find in their investigation, Trump “could be impeached.” Trump has said his call with the Ukrainian leader was “perfectly fine and routine.”

The latest revelations involving Trump’s call to the Ukrainian leader could both help and hurt Biden. In a way it could help him not just to contrast his style with that of the president but also to put him once again front and center of the Democratic primary. After all, Biden uploaded a video of the exchange with reporters in Iowa, suggesting that his campaign sees a benefit for the vice president to take on Trump directly. But it could also raise uncomfortable questions. The New York Times explains:

The revelations offered voters a preview of what is likely to be an extraordinary general election contest if Mr. Biden were to win the nomination, one in which attacks by the president and his team could boomerang, transforming Mr. Biden into a sympathetic figure under attack with foreign help.

It could just as easily mark a defining moment for Mr. Biden, a 76-year-old politician first elected to the Senate in 1972 and long accustomed to playing by the more genteel political rules of a different era.

While the new report gives Mr. Biden the one-on-one showdown with Mr. Trump that his campaign has spent months trying to create, it also exposes him and his son, Hunter Biden, to yet another round of probing questions about the younger Mr. Biden’s moneymaking activities in the Ukraine.