Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized President Donald Trump for calling on Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Although Carlson does ultimately defend the president, it marked a rare case in which the Fox News host does anything but staunchly support the commander in chief. “Donald Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden,” Carlson said in a column he co-authored with fellow Daily Caller co-founder Neil Patel. “Some Republicans are trying, but there’s no way to spin this as a good idea.”
The president’s actions were characteristic of the president, they said. “Like a lot of things Trump does, it was pretty over-the-top,” Carlson and Patel wrote. “Once those in control of our government use it to advance their political goals, we become just another of the world’s many corrupt countries. America is better than that.”
Still, even as they criticized the president, Carlson and Patel said that it’s “hard to argue” that the president’s actions amounted to “an impeachable offense.” Why? “The president did not, as was first reported, offer a quid pro quo to the Ukrainians. He did not condition any U.S. support on a Biden investigation. The Justice Department has already looked at the totality of the call and determined that Trump did not break the law,” they wrote. Carlson and Patel went on to write that impeachment “is the most extreme and anti-democratic remedy we have in our system of government.”
Some analysts were quick to see Carlson and Patel’s column as foreshadowing of how other Republican allies could distance themselves from the president’s actions while continuing to criticize Democrats for the impeachment inquiry. “This is a pretty transparent effort to provide a roadmap for Republicans looking for a way to publicly condemn Trump’s actions but still oppose impeachment,” CNN political correspondent Abby D. Phillip wrote on Twitter.