Trump's attacks on Bidens get more personal at raucous rally
US President Donald Trump levelled some of his most personal attacks yet against Joe Biden and his family at his first campaign rally since House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry.
Mr Trump made unsubstantiated claims about his potential 2020 rival's son and used profanity to describe Mr Biden's tenure as vice president.
At the Target Centre in Minneapolis, Mr Trump repeated his dubious claims that Hunter Biden secured $1.5bn for an investment fund in China while his father served as Barack Obama's vice president. He also mocked Hunter Biden's personal problems, including his discharge from the Navy after he tested positive for cocaine use.
"Hunter, you know nothing about energy, you know nothing about China, you know nothing about anything, frankly," Mr Trump said to a near-capacity crowd. "Hunter, you're a loser."
Mocking Hunter Biden's lack of public appearances, Mr Trump bellowed: "Whatever happened to Hunter? Where the hell is he? . . . I have an idea for a new T-shirt . . . Where's Hunter?"
Mr Trump attacked the press for fact-checking the allegations he has levelled against the Bidens, noting they are often described as unsubstantiated. "It's not unsubstantiated, you crooked son of a guns," he said after repeating his exaggerated and misleading claims about the former vice president and his family.
Mr Trump, who has fixated on the former vice president as a potential 2020 foe since Mr Biden entered the race in April, is embroiled in an escalating battle with House Democrats. They are pursuing an impeachment inquiry over Mr Trump pressuring the leader of Ukraine to investigate what Mr Trump claims were Hunter Biden's corrupt business dealings in the country.
Hunter Biden served for nearly five years on the board of Burisma, Ukraine's largest private gas company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors for possible abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation. As vice president, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who Mr Biden and other Western officials said was not sufficiently pursuing corruption cases.
At the time, the investigation into Burisma was dormant, former Ukrainian and US officials have said.
During the raucous rally - interrupted frequently by pro-Trump chants, cheers and boos as protesters were hauled out of the arena - the president ramped up his attacks on Mr Biden and paid scant attention to other potential 2020 Democratic challengers, even as the former vice president has faltered as of late in polling.
Mr Biden "was never considered smart," Mr Trump said. "He was never considered a good senator. He was only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama's ass."
"I'd love to run against him, to be honest," Mr Trump said of Mr Biden.
Mr Trump also fixated on the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and predicting that the Democrats' "brazen attempt to overthrow our government will produce a backlash at the ballot box, the likes of which they have never, ever seen before in the history of our country."
That claim comes even though recent polling has indicated that public opinion is turning against Mr Trump. A Fox News poll released on Thursday showed that 51pc of voters want to see Mr Trump impeached and removed from office. At the rally, Mr Trump insisted: "Polls are no different than crooked writers."
Mr Trump's fire in Minnesota was expected to be trained on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who represents the district where the rally was held.
He mocked Ms Omar, the first Somali-American in Congress.
"How hell did that ever happen?" he said of her election, adding: "Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist." (© Washington Post)