By Marshall Cohen | CNN
In a new interview published Tuesday, former President Donald Trump called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release any damaging information he has about the Biden family, in a brazen request for domestic political assistance from America’s top adversary.
It’s the latest example of Trump’s willingness to solicit and embrace domestic political help from foreign powers — even from Putin, who is currently overseeing a bloody war against Ukraine.
In an interview with JustTheNews, Trump pushed an unproven claim about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Russia, and asked Putin to release any information that he might have about the situation. It’s not clear that any material exists, or if the Kremlin has access to it.
“I would think Putin would know the answer to that,” Trump said, referring to Hunter Biden’s potential dealings in Russia. “I think he should release it. I think we should know that answer.”
It is true that Hunter Biden was paid handsomely for consulting work he did in foreign countries, including Ukraine and China, while his father — President Joe Biden — was vice president. The Justice Department has an ongoing criminal investigation into these dealings and potential financial crimes.
But no evidence has emerged to support Trump’s claims that the Bidens engaged in corruption or influenced US policy for personal gain, and the President hasn’t been implicated in the probe. Hunter Biden has denied wrongdoing and says he’ll be cleared when the criminal probe is over.
Trump’s public appeal to Putin harkens back to his infamous July 2016 comment in which he said, “Russia, if you’re listening,” and then urged Putin to hack Hillary Clinton’s personal emails. It was the start of a years-long effort by Trump to raise his political prospects with foreign help.
The Trump campaign in 2016 also embraced and capitalized on Russia’s election-meddling operation against Clinton. For instance, the campaign regularly played up Democratic emails that were hacked and leaked by the Russian military, and members of Trump’s inner circle also met during the campaign with a Russian agent who promised dirt on Clinton.
In 2019, Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch unfounded corruption investigations against then-candidate Joe Biden and withheld nearly $400 million in US military aid as part of the scheme. This incident led to Trump’s first impeachment.
And during the 2020 campaign, some of Trump’s top allies collaborated with a known Russian spy to peddle disinformation about Biden and his family, including some of the same claims of corruption that Trump mentioned in the new interview.
The clip of Trump asking Putin for help was published by a news website founded by John Solomon, a pro-Trump journalist whose previous coverage about the Bidens’ ties to Ukraine has been discredited. He told CNN that the interview was taped on Monday at Mar-a-Lago.