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Lock up Bidens, Trump urges at rally as he trails in polls

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MACON • United States President Donald Trump on Friday called for Mr 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 (Clinton),” Mr 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 learnt over the last couple of months: Joe Biden is a corrupt politician and the Biden family is a criminal enterprise,” Mr Trump said to his supporters.

Mr Trump frequently demanded that his 2016 Democratic opponent, Mrs Hillary Clinton, be incarcerated over her use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.

Last Friday’s attack was believed to be the first time he has ever used that sort of attack against the Bidens.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation declined in 2016 to recommend charges against Mrs Clinton for sending a small number of classified e-mails through a private server at her New York home.

Trailing behind Mr Biden in most opinion polls, with the election less than three weeks away, Mr Trump has zeroed in on a New York Post report from last week that highlighted documents purporting to show the business dealings of Mr Biden’s son in Ukraine and China.

The article, citing unverified e-mails from a laptop abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop, alleged that Mr Hunter Biden introduced a Ukrainian businessman to his father, who has said that he has never talked with his son about his international business dealings.

The e-mails provided no proof of a meeting. The businessman, according to the article, thanked Mr Hunter Biden for “the opportunity to meet your father”.

The Biden campaign said the former vice-president’s calendars turned up no record that he ever met the businessman.

The laptop’s hard drive was given to Trump ally Steve Bannon, who gave it to Mr Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Mr Robert Costello. Mr Giuliani, who is Mr Trump’s lawyer, gave it to the New York Post.

When asked about the reports, Mr Biden said: “I have no response. Another smear campaign.”

The Washington Post reported last week that Mr Trump was warned last year that Mr Giuliani had become the target of Russian intelligence for an influence operation. Mr Giuliani’s efforts to obtain disparaging information about the Bidens from Ukrainian officials contributed to Mr Trump’s impeachment in the House.

Mr Biden and Mr Trump are scheduled to meet for a presidential debate in Nashville on Thursday, their final encounter of the 2020 campaign.

During Friday’s rally, Mr Trump also raised the possibility of a loss to Mr 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.”

Mr Trump was expected to campaign yesterday in Michigan and Wisconsin, before launching a tour of western states to shore up political support.

The former New York businessman prevailed in Michigan and Wisconsin in 2016, but polls show him running behind Mr Biden in those states this year.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS