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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told Baltimore County campaign donors by phone that President Donald Trump can’t “get away with shredding the United States Constitution" and that Trump has singled out the former vice president for attacks because Biden leads the Republican in head-to-head polls. In this 2017 file photo, Joe Biden gives a commencement address at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told Baltimore County campaign donors by phone that President Donald Trump can’t “get away with shredding the United States Constitution" and that Trump has singled out the former vice president for attacks because Biden leads the Republican in head-to-head polls. In this 2017 file photo, Joe Biden gives a commencement address at Morgan State University in Baltimore. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told Baltimore County campaign donors by phone that President Donald Trump can’t “get away with shredding the United States Constitution" and that Trump has singled out the former vice president for attacks because Biden leads the Republican in head-to-head polls.

Biden canceled his appearance Tuesday night at a Pikesville fundraiser after his route along Interstate 95 from Delaware was shut down because of a collision. He called into the event instead.

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“We were on time, heading down to see you all, and there was a major, major accident. A tractor-trailer overturned, we later learned. We sat there for about 40, 45 minutes — maybe longer," he told about 115 donors at Citron, a restaurant and event space.

The fundraiser coincided with the U.S. House beginning a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump, who is accused trying to intimidate the president of Ukraine to start an investigation of Biden’s son.

The congressional inquiry centers on whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government for his reelection by seeking the investigation of Hunter Biden. In announcing the probe Tuesday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said such actions by Trump would mark a “betrayal of his oath of office.”

Trump counters that a July conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was innocent and people should focus instead on whether Biden had a conflict of interest when he was working with Ukraine as vice president while his son was on the board of a gas company in that country.

“The reason I’m being attacked is most polls show me beating him by 10 to 15 points. So, I’m not at all surprised I’ve become the object of his affection and attention,” Biden told the donors Tuesday. “The attacks on me, they’re going to come and they’re going to go and they’ll soon be forgotten. But if we allow a president to get away with shredding the United States Constitution, this is going to last forever.”

Biden continued: "This goes well beyond me. This is a national problem. This isn’t a Democratic problem. This isn’t a Republican problem. If I dropped out tomorrow, the fact is, we can’t let this happen.”

Biden said near the end of his talk that Trump “loves nicknames. I’d like to give him a new nickname — ‘Former President Trump.’”

Biden and an event organizer said they hope he can come to Baltimore County later this fall, perhaps in November, for another event.

Tuesday’s gathering was hosted by Bill Miller, founder of the Baltimore investment firm Miller Value Partners.

The Washington Post, citing senior administration officials, reported Trump told his staff to hold back nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine before the phone call in which the president is said to have pressured Zelenskiy to investigate Hunter Biden. The money, which Congress had approved, was released after the call. The call is part of a government whistleblower’s complaint against Trump.

Trump told reporters Tuesday in New York that he withheld the aid to call attention to other countries’ failure to contribute to Ukraine.

“I’d withhold again, and I’ll continue to withhold, until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine,” the president said, according to a White House transcript. “Because they’re not doing it. Just the United States. We’re putting up the bulk of the money. And I’m asking, ‘Why is that?’”

“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s a witch hunt,” Trump said. “I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment.”

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