In what has become a now-familiar pattern, former President Donald Trump has once again solicited help from a foreign leader in exposing possible dirt to try to wound a political enemy.
Trump, who was impeached in 2019 for his request to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he do Trump «a favor» by investigating Joe Biden’s son Hunter, told right-wing television host John Solomon in an interview published Tuesday that he wanted Russian President Vladimir Putin to shed light on unverified reports that Biden’s son received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Yelena Baturina, the wife of Moscow’s former mayor.
“She gave him $3.5 million, so now I would think Putin would know the answer to that,” Trump told Solomon. “I think he should release it. I think we should know that answer.”
“How is it that the mayor of Moscow, his wife, gave the Biden family three and a half million dollars?” he continued. “I think Putin now would be willing to probably give that answer. I’m sure he knows.”
In a presidential debate with Biden during the 2020 campaign, Trump seized on that claim, which appears in a U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security report authored by the then-Republican majority but has not been verified.
During the debate, Biden said of the $3.5 million wire-transfer allegation that it is «simply not true.»
While Trump has long sought foreign help in uncovering alleged business wrongdoing committed by Hunter Biden, the president’s son does remain the center of a federal tax investigation. The New York Times reported that although he paid off outstanding tax liabilities related to his business dealings with foreign countries, he remains the subject of an ongoing grand jury probe.
After the president’s son learned in 2020 that he was under federal investigation, he said in a statement that “a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately.”
Whether meant seriously or sarcastically, Trump’s outreach to Putin’s government is also not new. During the 2016 presidential election, Trump referenced that Russian hackers had broken into a Democratic National Committee server and stolen sensitive material, conflating that event with Hillary Clinton’s deletion of 33,000 personal emails from her private server.
«Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,» Trump said at a press conference on July 27, 2016.
The FBI declined to bring charges against Clinton in the matter, and though Trump pledged that if he was elected president he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the deleted emails, he never did.
At a Georgia rally over the weekend for candidates in the battleground state he has endorsed in the 2022 midterms, Trump indicated that he is considering mounting another run for president in 2024, saying, «We may just have to do it again.»