Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican member of Congress, urged the GOP to “unequivocally” condemn President Trump for asking Ukraine and China to probe his political rival Thursday.
Mr. Curbelo, a moderate who served two terms representing Florida’s 26th Congressional District, implored Republicans to act in response to Mr. Trump suggesting that Ukraine and China investigate the family of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the current front-runner among candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
“It’s high time for people to honor our country and its Constitution,” Mr. Curbelo reacted on Twitter. “A lot of Republicans are watching from the sidelines. Get in the game and tell the American people what you really think.”
“This is unacceptable. Republicans must condemn it unequivocally. Time is running out for them to get on the right side of history. Our institutions and being diminished in a very dangerous way,” tweeted Mr. Curbelo, the son of exiles who fled the Castro regime in Cuba.
Democrats controlling the House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump last week amid details emerging about a July telephone call in which he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter, who had sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing.
Asked earlier Thursday morning about what he hoped Mr. Zelensky would do, Mr. Trump said that “I would think that if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens.”
“China likewise should start an investigation,” Mr. Trump told reporters outside the White House.
Mr. Trump was quickly condemned by his critics for expanding on a request that has already put his presidency at risk, including by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, among others.
“The President cannot use the power of his office to pressure foreign leaders to investigate his political opponents,” said Mr. Schiff, whose panel is among others leading the impeachment inquiry. “His rant this morning reinforces the urgency of our work.”
Mr. Curbelo was largely alone among Republicans in condemning Mr. Trump’s appeal to Ukraine and China as of late Thursday afternoon, however.
“He’s openly challenging our system of checks and balances,” Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan independent who left the GOP earlier this year, tweeted about Mr. Trump. “In plain sight, he’s using the powers of his public office for personal gain and counting on Republicans in Congress to look the other way.”
Mr. Curbelo, 39, represented residents of south Florida on Capitol Hill for four years prior to being unseated in last year’s race by Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Following his defeat, he told Republicans that “Trumpism isn’t the future” for a GOP that favors small government and free enterprise.