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Republicans recycle defense that Trump was joking about China investigating the Bidens

Asked in recent days about President Trump's call for China to investigate the Bidens, elected Republicans said the president was joking. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

As Republican lawmakers struggle to defend President Trump’s call for Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens some have trotted out a defense often employed by the White House: Trump was joking.

Four Republican congressmen in the past four days have said Trump was not serious when he said this from the White House South Lawn on Thursday about former vice president Joe Biden — a Trump political rival — and his son Hunter: “China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”

You can watch Trump’s remarks and the Republican response in the video above.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was twice asked Friday whether it was appropriate for Trump to ask China to investigate the Bidens. He dodged twice.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) was asked about Trump’s China comment three times Sunday. He dodged three times.

And Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Sunday was asked 11 times in 11 minutes whether Trump’s request was appropriate. He dodged 11 times.

That Republicans are refusing to directly defend or criticize Trump is not surprising: Recent polling shows while there has been an uptick in support for impeachment, Trump’s approval rating remains relatively steady.

That Republicans are attempting to defend Trump with some variation of suggesting he was joking, kidding or being sarcastic is perhaps less surprising: Trump and his allies have downplayed at least 15 claims of his over the past four years by pointing to Trump’s sarcasm, as The Fix reported earlier this year.

One of those 15 claims Trump later said he was joking about? Calling for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails during the 2016 election.