President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for the arrest of the House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff for voicing concerns over the source of stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop, which he believes are a part of smear campaign originating from Russia.
Mr Trump described the congressman as “watermelon-head”, accusing him of always to his “Russia, Russia, Russia” talking points during the election.
Mocking him as “Shifty Schiff”, Mr Trump said, “That guy should be locked up.”
“Lock him up, lock him up,” his supporters screamed back.
Mr Trump’s use of a playground insult has provoked a strong reaction on social media, including the creation of a parody “Watermelonhead” Twitter account.
😆 "Watermelonhead". Straight out of the "90's grade school bully character playbook".
— Sovey (@ajsov09) October 21, 2020
Knock knock. Who’s there. Watermelon. Watermelon who. Watermelonhead. Hahaha. - 5 year olds everywhere.
— 🌊 🌊Becky - Vote Blue 🌊 🌊 (@Becka1955) October 21, 2020
Mr Trump has repeatedly accused his Democratic challenger Joe Biden of wrongdoing in relation to his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.
The issue resurfaced after a New York Post article claimed to have found an email from April 2015 in which an adviser from a Ukrainian energy company apparently thanked Mr Biden's son for inviting him to meet his father in Washington.
Hunter, Joe Biden's second son, was a director on the board of Burisma - a Ukrainian-owned private energy company while his father was the Obama administration's point man on US-Ukrainian relations. Hunter was one of several foreigners on its board and had joined Burisma in 2014 and remained on the board until April 2019, when he decided to leave.
The Post article did not provide evidence that the meeting ever took place. The Biden election campaign said there was no record of any such meeting on the former vice-president's "official schedule" from the time.
But in a statement to Politico, the campaign also acknowledged that Mr Biden could have had an "informal interaction" with the Burisma adviser that did not appear on his official schedule, though it said any such encounter would have been "cursory".
FBI agents are investigating if the emails found on a laptop at a Delaware repair shop discussing the business activities of Hunter Biden in Ukraine are linked to foreign intelligence operations.
Two sources familiar with the matter told NBC on Wednesday night that bureau chiefs are looking into the possibility that the email cache - allegedly belonging to Hunter - may have been unearthed with help from a power hostile to the US, such as Russia.
In 2019, details emerged of a phone call President Trump had made to the president of Ukraine, in which he had urged the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens.
This led to charges by the Democrats that Mr Trump was trying to illegally pressure Ukraine to help damage his election rival, resulting in Mr Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives. The impeachment push in the House was led by Mr Schiff.
Mr Trump denied he'd done anything wrong and was cleared by the Republican-controlled US Senate.