Under the threat of impeachment over his request for Ukraine to look for damaging information about Joe Biden and his son Hunter, President Trump on Thursday called on China to also investigate the former vice president.
When asked what he was seeking from Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky in the July 25 phone call at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Trump said he wanted the country to investigate the Bidens, then added that China should do the same.
“Well, I would think if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens,” said Trump. “It’s a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens because how does a company that’s newly formed and all these companies, and by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine. So I would say with President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend they start an investigation into the Bidens, because nobody has any doubt that they weren’t crooked.”
Trump’s calling on a foreign government to investigate a political opponent is currently why Democrats are investigating him for potential impeachment. When Trump was asked at a Wednesday press conference what he wanted Zelensky to do, the president melted down.
Trump has been focused on the fact that Hunter Biden received a $50,000-a-month job on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma and that his father, who was vice president at the time, helped to push out a prosecutor who was investigating the firm for corruption.
Trump has also raised accusations of corruption over Hunter Biden’s partnership with a Chinese private equity fund, exaggerating the scale of China’s investment from $4.2 million to $1.5 billion.
Asked if he had requested that President Xi Jinping of China help investigate the Bidens, Trump replied, “I haven’t, but it’s certainly something we can start thinking about.”
Representing the Obama administration, Vice President Biden had pushed for the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor accused of corruption, a position shared by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The prosecutor had previously investigated a Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden sat. But the allegations against the company, Burisma Holdings, predated the younger Biden’s appointment to the board, which was described as an effort to provide international oversight in the notoriously corrupt Ukrainian energy industry, and a Ukrainian prosecutor cleared the Bidens of any wrongdoing.
Joe Biden’s efforts, which were not secret, formed the basis of a complex conspiracy theory advanced by Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and echoed by Trump himself. One potential embarrassment arose Thursday when CNN reported on a February 2016 letter to the Ukrainian president urging the same reforms being pushed at the same time by Biden — signed by members of the “Senate Ukraine Caucus,” including Republicans Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, as well as several Democrats.
Trump has been talking up the allegations about Hunter Biden’s dealings with China for some time. The Washington Post reported last week that the president had raised the matter with Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, who has been working as an intermediary in trade talks with China.
According to a video obtained by the Post, Trump alleged that Hunter Biden got $1.5 billion from the Chinese and asked Schwarzman, “Steve, is that possible?” Trump said he asked Schwarzman how that could happen, to which Schwarzman said: “Maybe I shouldn’t get involved; you know it’s very political.”
Trump’s daughter Ivanka received approval from the Chinese government for a number of valuable trademarks last year, around the same time the president pledged American help for a troubled Chinese telecommunications company. The sister of Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband and a White House adviser, has been under scrutiny about her efforts to secure Chinese investors for a family real estate project with the offer of prized U.S. residency permits.
Bloomberg reported Thursday that a company partly owned by Kushner is discussing an investment of at least $100 million from a private fund that receives much of its capital from the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
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