Donald Trump wouldn’t say Thursday if his request for China to investigate his political rival was a serious appeal.
When pressed during a White House departure to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on if his comments last week were a joke, the president said he was leaving it up to China to decide.
‘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,’ Trump told reporters on the South Lawn, adding that if they want to look into payments to Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
‘Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, if China wants to look into something, I think that’s great. And if they don’t want to, I think that’s great too. That’s up to China,’ he continued.
Last Thursday, Trump suggested China open an investigation into the former vice president and his son – shortly after congratulating it’s leader Xi Jinping for 70 years of Communist rule.
Donald Trump wouldn’t say if asking China to investigate Joe Biden was a joke. ‘China has to do whatever they want,’ Trump said. ‘Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, if China wants to look into something, I think that’s great. And if they don’t want to, I think that’s great too. That’s up to China’
The remarks followed a week of controversy after a whistle-blower revealed the nature of a phone call Trump had with his Ukrainian counterpart on July 25.
Democrats allege that during the conversation Trump set a quid pro quo by withholding military aid in exchange for the Ukrainian government looking in his political rival and his son’s position at a Ukrainian natural gas firm.
Trump is holding a reelection campaign rally at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota Thursday night.
Since Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president became public, and the House launched an impeachment inquiry against the president, Trump has made Biden his main target of criticism.
He claims Biden was involved in corruption in Ukraine and China connected to Hunter’s business dealings in the countries. In Ukraine, he reportedly was paid $50,000 per month from 2014 to earlier this year. He also insists Hunter was paid $1.5 billion from China for ‘no apparent reason.’
Last week Trump also confirmed to DailyMail.com that he hoped his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky result in ‘a major investigation’ of the Bidens.
He also called Adam Schiff, the Democrat chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a ‘stone cold liar,’ stepping up his attacks on one of his main enemies, after it emerged his committee knew about the whistle-blower complaint before it was made.
The intention behind Trump’s momentary mention of Biden and his son Hunter during the call has become a sticking point among congressional investigators and journalists.
An impatient, nail-spitting president refused to address the topic during a joint press conference Wednesday with the president of Finland, berating a reporter for repeating the question and trying his patience.
But on the White House South Lawn Thursday he said that if Ukraine ‘were honest about it,’ it ‘would start a major investigation against the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer.’
President Donald Trump said last Thursday that both Ukraine and China should probe possible corruption by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Joe Biden has called the president ‘unhinged’ and insists he can beat Trump in 2020
‘Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens,’ Trump insisted, ‘because what happened with the Bidens in China is just about as bad.
‘President Zelensky – if it were me I would recommend they start an investigation into the Bidens because nobody has any doubt that they aren’t crooked,’ he added, as he prepared to leave for a trip to The Villages in Florida.
‘So if I were the president I would certainly recommend that of Ukraine.’
Asked if he had requested Chin’s president Xi Jinping to launch a corruption investigation focusing on the Bidens, Trump replied: ‘I haven’t, but it’s certainly something we can start thinking about.’
Trump controversially congratulated China on the 70th anniversary of the declaration of its modern Communist state earlier this week and talks on a trade deal between the U.S. and Beijing are to resume next week.
He said he suspects Xi ‘does not like being under that kind of scrutiny where billions of dollars is taken out of his country by a guy that just got kicked out of the Navy.’
That was a reference to Hunter Biden, who was discharged from his officer’s commission in the Navy Reserve early in 2014 after testing positive for cocaine.
‘He got kicked out of the navy. All of a sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.’
Joe Biden boasted last year about threatening to scuttle $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees if Ukraine’s government didn’t fire the lead prosecutor investigating the energy company where his son Hunter held a lucrative Board of Directors seat.
‘I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money’,’ the former VP recalled in a January 2018 speech. ‘Well, son of a b***h. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.’
Trump said he hasn’t directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate the Bidens, but that it may be a future consideration
Trump has also lambasted the former vice president for taking Hunter Biden to China aboard Air Force Two in 2013, while he was in office, and claimed that he helpe to facilitate a meeting with Chinese bankers that allegedly resulted in a $1.5 billion investment in the younger Biden’s venture capital fund.
That allegation has had less publicity but has been repeatedly mentioned by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, in a string of media appearances.
It centers on what happened when the vice-president went to China for two days as part of a East Asian swing in December 2013, taking with him Hunter and Hunter’s daughter Finnegan.
Biden frequently took family members, particularly his grandchildren, on foreign trips.
But at the time Hunter was setting up a Chinese private equity fund, called BHR Partners, along with Devon Archer, the business partner who was also to join the board of Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company at the center of Trump’s claims of corruption in that country.
BHR’s first company documents were filed the month before the Bidens flew to China. Hunter was not a partner in the fund – meaning he had no financial stake, but was on an advisory board.
One of the partners in the fund was Jonathan Li, a Chinese banker, who Hunter acknowledges he met on the trip with his father to China.
Hunter denied to the New Yorker in July that he transacted any business with Li on the trip and said: ‘How do I go to Beijing, halfway around the world, and not see them for a cup of coffee?’
Trump and Giuliani have both touted a claim that Hunter took ‘$1.5 billion’ from China for the fund.
Trump has also lambasted the former vice president for taking Hunter Biden to China aboard Air Force Two in 2013. While there he met Vice Premier Li Yuanchao – while Hunter met a business partner
Joe Biden made multiple trips there and demanded action on corruption; Hunter was on the board of a natural gas firm which faced money-laundering accusations
It was first made by conservative investigative author Peter Schweizer – the author of Clinton Cash – in his 2018 book Secret Empires.
The Washington Post reported that ‘affiliates’ of the fund said it was planned to raise $1.5 billion, but Hunter’s spokesman, George Mesires, said that it raised just $4.2 million. After his father left office, Biden bought a 10 per cent stake in the fund for $420,000, Mesires said.
‘To date, Mr. Biden has not received any return or compensation on account of this investment or his position on the board of directors,’ Mesires told the Washington Post.
In Ukraine, current officials have not accused either Biden of wrongdoing in connection with the company, Burisma Holdings. Former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko told The Washington Post last week that ‘from the perspective of Ukrainian legislation, [Hunter Biden] did not violate anything.’
The president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, however, tells a different story.
He wrote in notes from a January 2019 phone call with the fired prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, that Shokin claimed he was forced to back off his investigation into Burisma.
Shokin, who was himself accused of rampant corruption during his time in office, told Giuliani he stopped his probe ‘out of fear of the United States’ after America’s top diplomat told him to use ‘white gloves.’
‘According to Mr. Shokin, that implied do nothing,’ Giuliani’s notes say.
Shokin, he wrote, recalled being told that Joe Biden was holding up aid payments to Ukraine because of the investigation.
As he fumed on Wednesday in the East Room, Trump lashed out at a Reuters reporter and called his question – the same one he answered Thursday – an example of ‘corrupt news.’
‘It’s a whole hoax, and you know who’s playing into the hoax? People like you,’ he said.
The president badgered the reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, to stop being ‘rude’ and question Finnish president Sauli Niinistö instead.
‘Are you talking to me? Listen, are you ready? We have the president of Finland. Ask him a question!’ he boomed.
‘Did you hear me? Did you hear me? Ask him a question!’
After Mason pressed his query to Trump a third time, the president ended the press conference and walked out.