Despite national outcry at his pressuring the Ukrainian President to investigate his political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden, President Donald Trump wasn't afraid to call on Chinese officials to investigate Biden as well. Trump urged officials to do so while speaking to reporters on the White House lawn.
When Americans across the country called him out, Trump's Republican allies assured them that Trump was only joking.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that Trump was just "needling the press" to "get everybody fired up."
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) followed Rubio's lead, asking "You really think he was serious?"
So when speaking with Trump on the White House lawn again on Thursday afternoon, reporters asked him flat out: Were you joking when you called on China to investigate Biden? His answer was telling.
Trump made it clear that he wasn't joking, telling reporters:
"China has to do whatever they want. If they want to look into something, they can look into it. If they don't want to look into it, they don't have to. Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, I think that's great, and if they don't want to, I think that's great too."
Though he was certainly less forceful in endorsing a Chinese investigation into his potential 2020 opponent than he was the week prior, Trump said it would be "great" if China wanted to look into something before conceding that it's "great too" if they choose not to.
It wasn't long before Rubio began walking back his statement, accusing journalists of mischaracterizing him and promising that he never said the President was joking, but that it wasn't a "serious" request.
But people were pretty certain that Trump was, in fact, serious.
The response basically threw Rubio and Jordan's theories under the bus.
The "joking" or "trolling" defense is constantly used by Trump's enablers whenever he says or does something outrageous.
But why on earth is trolling an admirable quality in the leader of the free world?
Somebody ask Marco Rubio.