Democratic presidential candidates are going after President Donald Trump — but that’s not all.
They’re also taking aim at former Vice President Joe Biden’s dirty dealings with Ukraine.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren suggested she’d consider barring her vice president’s children from serving on the boards of foreign companies, the very kind of business arrangement Trump has used in attacks accusing Biden and his son Hunter of corruption.
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When asked whether Trump’s attacks reflect on Biden’s “campaign or his character,” California Sen. Kamala Harris said, “I’ll leave that up to the pundits. I don’t have a comment on that.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who in 2016 defended Hillary Clinton against attacks over her use of an illegal private email server as secretary of state, sidestepped a question about whether the Biden controversy makes him a weaker candidate.
The reactions signal just how contentious the Democratic primary has become in the months ahead if it unfolds against the backdrop of impeachment proceedings in Congress.
Even as Biden’s leading competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination accuse Trump of wild crimes, they refuse to acknowledge Biden’s own legal troubles.
Trump and his Republican allies continue to suggest that Biden, while vice president, used his office to quash a Ukrainian investigation of the notoriously corrupt company that had Hunter Biden as a board member.
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Trump raised the issue in a July telephone conversation with the new Ukrainian president, asking Volodymyr Zelenskiy about the Biden investigation.
Only candidates largely outside the top tier remain willing to defend Biden.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, on CNN rejected questions about Biden, calling that “whataboutism” that allows Republicans to avoid scrutiny on “an extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented, breach of the oath of office by the American president.”
And former U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro, who memorably attacked Biden during a Sept. 12 debate by falsely accusing the 76-year-old of forgetting his own health care proposals, weighed in on Biden’s behalf.
“Donald Trump is trying to do to Joe Biden what he did to Hillary Clinton, to turn somebody who has given a lifetime of service and done it honorably into the victim of false accusations,” Castro told reporters.
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Hillary and her campaign workers smashed her private cell phone to pieces with a hammer and deleted over 30,000 emails to cover-up her illegal use of a private email server.
Biden and his allies are reportedly very frustrated and worried. Biden advisers say they will aggressively push back at Trump remembering that in 2016, Trump was often successful in framing his opponents however he pleased: “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, “Low energy Jeb” Bush and “Little Marco” Rubio in the GOP primary, “Crooked Hillary” Clinton in the general election campaign.
In the Ukraine storyline, they see Trump describing Biden as he did in 2016 with persistent attacks on the Clinton Foundation and its extremely controversial fundraising activities when Clinton was secretary of state.
But to win, the Biden team needs help from other Democrats.
And they’re not getting it.
The Associated Press contributed to this article