Former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean endorsed the Chinese government's sanctions against Republican senators and called for their expulsion from the United States.
Dean tweeted support for Beijing's decision to impose economic sanctions on 11 U.S. legislators and human-rights activists, including Republican senators Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas). The measures are in response to the Trump administration's decision to sanction top Hong Kong officials for participating in Beijing's crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.
"We'd like to sanction them too., [sic.] Can we send them to Beijing permanently," Dean wrote on Monday in a tweet linking to a news article about the sanctions.
Dean did not respond to a request for comment.
The former Democratic leader published the tweet after Chinese authorities arrested Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai on Monday and raided the newsroom of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper owned by Lai.
Dean, who ran for president in 2004 and was DNC chairman from 2005 to 2009, serves as a senior adviser to the public policy division of Dentons, the largest law firm in the world. The company, which merged with China's largest law firm Dacheng in 2015, has significant business interests in China. The Intercept reported that the merger allowed Chinese clients to access Dean and other politically connected Americans that are on Dentons's payroll.
Dean is the latest Democrat to introduce domestic partisan squabbles to debates over America's foreign relations with China. During the height of the coronavirus pandemic in March, Democrats led by Rep. Judy Chu (D., Calif.) rallied against a bipartisan House bill that condemned the Chinese government's handling of the pandemic, pressuring the bill's Democratic cosponsor into withdrawing his support for the legislation. Chu then claimed that the bill imperiled the lives of Asian Americans by linking the outbreak to China.