MACON, GEORGIA (BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump called on Friday night (Oct 16) for Joe Biden and his family to be jailed, escalating his attacks on his Democratic opponent over unsupported accusations as he struggles to reverse his deficit in the polls.
"Lock up the Bidens. Lock up Hillary," Trump declared at a rally in Macon, Georgia, stoking the crowd that chanted "lock him up" in favour of the Democratic candidate's imprisonment.
"We've learned over the last couple of months: Joe Biden is a corrupt politician," Trump said to his supporters, "and the Biden family is a criminal enterprise."
Trump frequently demanded that his 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, be incarcerated over her use of a private email server as secretary of state. It was believed to be the first time he has ever used that sort of attack against the Bidens.
The FBI declined in 2016 to recommend charges against Clinton for sending a small number of classified emails through a private server at her New York home.
Trailing behind Biden in most opinion polls with the election less than three weeks away, Trump has zeroed in on a New York Post report from earlier this week that highlights documents purporting to show the business dealings of Joe Biden's son Hunter in Ukraine and China.
The Post article, citing unverified emails from a laptop abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop, alleged that Hunter Biden introduced a Ukrainian businessman to his father, who has said he's never talked with his son about his international business dealings.
The emails provided no proof of a meeting. The businessman, according to the article, thanked Hunter Biden for "the opportunity to meet your father." The Biden campaign said his calendars turned up no record that the former vice president ever met with the businessman.
The laptop's hard drive was given to Trump ally Steve Bannon, who gave it to Rudy Giuliani's lawyer, Robert Costello. Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Trump's lawyer, gave it to the Post.
"I have no response. Another smear campaign," Biden said Friday when asked about the reports.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump was warned last year that Giuliani had become the target of Russian intelligence for an influence operation. Giuliani's efforts to obtain disparaging information about the Bidens from Ukrainian officials contributed to Trump's impeachment in the House of Representatives.
Biden and Trump are scheduled to meet for a presidential debate in Nashville next Thursday, their final encounter of the 2020 campaign.
During the rally, Trump raised the possibility of a loss to Biden, though making light of it.
"I shouldn't joke because you know what, running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics puts pressure on me," he said.
"Could you imagine if I lose? My whole life, what am I going to do, I'm going to say, I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics. I'm not going to feel so good. Maybe I'll have to leave the country, I don't know."