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GOP challenger Joe Walsh: Trump is 'giving the country the middle finger'

GOP challenger Joe Walsh: Trump is 'giving the country the middle finger'
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Former Rep. Joe WalshJoe WalshSacha Baron Cohen pens op-ed on the dangers of conspiracy theories Sunday shows preview: Protests continue over shooting of Blake; coronavirus legislation talks remain at impasse Republicans officially renominate Trump for president MORE (R-Ill.), one of three long-shot GOP candidates seeking to challenge President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE in 2020, argued Friday that it's time for Republicans to have a "gut-check" following Democrats' launch of a formal impeachment inquiry this week.

“All Donald Trump cares about is Donald Trump," Walsh, a former one-term Republican congressman and conservative talk radio host, said during an interview with CNN's Brianna Keilar. "And this [Trump] phone call, what we learned this week makes it clear."

Walsh accused Trump of "giving his middle finger to the American people" by pushing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE, a top political rival, noting that interference in U.S. elections by foreign governments has been a major concern following Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

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"If there’s one issue, Brianna, that has been eating at this country for the last three years, it’s foreign interference in our election," Walsh said. "And here’s the president of the United States just a couple months ago on this call — it’s quite literally like he’s giving his middle finger to the American people. ‘I don’t care about that. I’m going to ask another government to interfere in our 2020 election. I dare you to come get me.’ He’s giving the country the middle finger and Republicans better understand that.”

Trump faced mounting scrutiny this week over his July phone call with the president of Ukraine in which he urged the foreign leader to speak with his personal attorney about opening an investigation into Biden, the current Democratic presidential front-runner.

The call was also at the center of a whistleblower complaint that a member of the U.S. intelligence community filed to raise concerns about Trump's behavior. A declassified version of the whistleblower complaint was released Thursday.

Walsh came to the defense of the whistleblower on Friday, as Trump and his GOP allies continued to accuse the whistleblower of acting based on secondhand information. Walsh said that all whistleblowers should be "praised and revered" by Americans.

Polls have shown Trump with broad support within the GOP, with Walsh and two other Republicans who have announced primary campaigns against him in 2020 receiving single-digit support. Walsh received about 5 percent support in a recent Emerson poll.