Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

‘Pay-for-play scandal’: Trump accuses Joe Biden of ‘lying’ about role in son Hunter’s Ukraine business dealings

President hits third swing state in as many nights as he starts homestretch battleground blitz

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Thursday 15 October 2020 19:23 BST
Trump accuses Joe Biden of ‘lying’ about role in son Hunter’s Ukraine business dealings

Donald Trump debuted a new attack line on Joe Biden, saying a new report shows the Democratic presidential nominee “lied” about his involvement in a “pay-for-play scandal” that paid his son Hunter Biden handsomely.

The president spent a few minutes hammering his general election rival, but spent more talking about farmers and ethanol and other issues that affect Iowans directly. He called the state’s farmers, for preferring a “level playing field” over a federal bailout, “incredible” and told the crowd his administration “kept the ethanol going”; it is made from corn produced in places like the Hawkeye State. It was reminiscent of a plea to another key voting bloc he made the previous night in rural Pennsylvania: “Suburban women, please like me.”

But his opening act a night later was to hammer the Bidens.

“Now we can see clearly that Biden is a corrupt politician who shouldn't be allowed to run for the presidency,” the president said at a campaign rally in Iowa.

“Vice President Biden, you owe the American people an apology because … you are a corrupt politician,” Mr Trump said, demanding his rival release all emails related to his family's business dealings with Russia and Ukraine.”

“Biden’s repeated claim that he has never spoken to Hunter about his business dealings were a complete lie,” he said, accusing the former VP of “trying to cover up a massive pay-for-play scandal at the heart of his vice presidency.”

He claimed the family treated the vice presidency as a “for-profit” entity.

Mr Biden and his family have denied any wrongdoing, including that a meeting with the head of a Ukrainian energy company that Hunter Biden worked for never happened.

In a transition he appeared to read from a TelePrompter, he said Mr Biden has "made another corrupt bargain in return for his party’s nomination.

The new claims, which recall some of the accusations that saw the president impeached last year, stem from a story by the New York Post. Both Facebook and Twitter restricted sharing of the story, saying they were acting to slow the spread of false information. Twitter said sharing the story contravened its policy on "directly distribut[ing] content obtained through hacking that contains private information".

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, whose own Twitter account was briefly restricted after she tried to share the story, led accusations that social media companies were censoring stories critical of the Bidens.

Speaking in Des Moines, Mr Trump added of his rival: “He has handed control to the socialists and Marxists and the lunatic, left-wing fringe. Let’s face it, Joe is shot.”

The president for months has tried to paint the 77-year-old Biden, three years his senior, as too old and senile to be president. “It’ll be my time one day,” he said in Des Moines on Wednesday night. “But when it’s your time, you can’t be president.”

Trump Country

The president strode onto the stage in Des Moines as Mr Biden’s lead stood at 9.2 percentage points nationally. Mr Trump is in the middle of a six rallies-in-five-days blitz across a number of swing states, including the Hawkeye State.

But, it is among several in the initial homestretch barnstorming, that raise questions about claims made recently by the president and his campaign aides that their internal polling is better for him than many public polls. That’s because he is devoting an entire day of campaigning for the Wednesday night rally to Iowa, which he won by 10 points in 2016.

He trails there by just under 2 points, according to RealClearPolitics’ average of several surveys, with a CBS News poll calling the race there a tie and one from Quinnipiac University giving Mr Biden a 5-point lead. The same is true of Georgia, which he won by 5.1 points last time but RealClear shows is a statistical dead heat, and where he will be on Friday.

The Trump campaign chose Polk County for the rally, which went for Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by over 7 points four years ago. But the surrounding counties are part of Trump Country, including Madison County, which he won by over 30 points.

The president and his campaign team appeared eager, like with a rally Tuesday night in southwestern Pennsylvania, to create a large turnout among Republican and far-right conservative voters in already red areas to offset expected likely large Democratic turnouts in urban areas like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport.  

Election experts say Mr Trump cannot afford to lose a single state he won in 2016. That includes Iowa and its six Electoral College votes as he tries to essentially rebuild enough of the final 2016 map to hand him a second term.

‘Should I lose the tie?’

For the second consecutive night, Mr Trump rallied unmasked and closely packed supporters in a swing state after his third conservative Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, answered question after question from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ms Barrett mostly declined to answer pointed questions on hot-button issues, saying as a sitting federal judge, it would be inappropriate.

She declined to give an opinion about whether a president can unilaterally pardon himself or herself, how she might rule on the 2011 Affordable Care Act, and whether she would vote to overturn decisions that legally protected birth control and same-sex marriage.

"I am surprised and I think a lot of Americans will be scared by the idea that people who simply want to marry or have a relationship with the person they love could find it criminalised, could find marriage equality cut back," Mr Blumenthal said. "I think it would be an America where I wouldn't want to live."

Her response: "Well, senator, to suggest that's the America I want to create isn't based on any facts in my record.” Ms Barrett has published pieces in law journals taking conservative stances on those and other matters, but she repeatedly declined to even discuss her own writings.

Hours later, Mr Trump griped on stage about the 30mph wind gusts messing up his hair. He put on a bright red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap, but decided it did not match the hat.

“Should I lose the tie?” he asked the airport hangar crowd. They roared their approval as he took it off and tossed it onto the platform.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in