MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Trump moves: 'A national nightmare is upon us'

Hours after reports that President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE called on China to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters George Conway: Witness missing from impeachment trial is Trump MORE, MSNBC host Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddGOP senator 'open' to impeachment witnesses 'within the scope' of articles Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial GOP senator, Chuck Todd spar over whether Lev Parnas should testify in Senate impeachment trial MORE on Thursday said “a national nightmare is upon us.”

“I don’t say this lightly, but let’s be frank: a national nightmare is upon us,” Todd said during “Meet the Press.” “The basic rules of our democracy are under attack from the president.”

He continued: “This moment should arguably be a national emergency. The Founding Fathers would’ve considered it a national emergency if the president publicly lobbied multiple foreign governments to interfere in the next election,” adding that the precedent Trump’s actions could set would cause “lasting damage” to the U.S. democracy. 

Earlier Thursday, Trump publicly encouraged both China and Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son amid growing concerns over the president’s use of the Oval Office to pressure foreign governments to look into his political rivals. A whistleblower’s complaint about Trump urging Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden is at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against him.

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“I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend they start an investigation into the Bidens. Because nobody doubts they weren't crooked,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn, adding: “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.”

Todd said Trump’s public admissions “all but ensures” his impeachment by illustrating that “the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is using the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election while doing it relying on a debunked conspiracy theory or two.”

“This is not hearsay. This is not a leak. This is not a whistleblower complaint. It’s not a memorandum of a phone conversation,” Todd said. “You heard the president himself do it on the White House lawn.”

Trump’s comments are likely to further fuel calls for impeachment from House Democrats, who have zeroed in on Trump soliciting a foreign leader to look into a domestic political rival as the basis for allegations that he abused his office.