Trump drops bombshell on China
Donald Trump has called on China to investigate the Bidens in the face of widespread condemnation and an impeachment inquiry for having asked the same of the Ukraine.
The US President on Thursday told reporters outside the White House that China, a nation that has much at stake in its relationship with the US in an ongoing trade war, "should start an investigation into the Bidens".
"What happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine," he said.
"So, I would say that (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens."
Mr Trump said he hadn't directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter but that it was "certainly something we could start thinking about".
Mr Trump is already the subject of an impeachment inquiry for allegedly urging the Ukraine to investigate a Democratic political rival during a phone call with the country's president earlier this year. He has defended his contact with Ukraine and repeatedly described the conversation as "perfect".
All the Do Nothing Democrats are focused on is Impeaching the President for having a very good conversation with the Ukrainian President. I knew that many people were listening, even have a transcript. They have been at this “stuff” from the day I got elected. Bad for Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2019
The President's reference to China came unprompted when he answered a question about the July 25 Ukraine call and moments after he was asked about trade negotiations.
"I have a lot of options on China, but if they don't do what we want, we have tremendous, tremendous power," Mr Trump said.
In response to the president's remarks, a Chinese diplomat suggested that China is not likely to be interested in investigating Mr Biden.
"We do not want to get in the middle of the US politics," the diplomat said.
There has not yet been an official response from the Chinese government.
"This is quite chaotic," the diplomat told CNN.
"Are you asking about the comments that Trump just made? I don't think I can tell you anything in this regard right now."
Mr Trump's latest comments evoked his public call in 2016 for Russia to release Hillary Clinton's emails if they had obtained them by hacking - which US intelligence agencies later determined to be the case.
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Mr Trump said during a July 2016 press conference.
He later claimed in written answers to questions from special counsel Robert Mueller that he made the appeal to Russia "in jest and sarcastically, as was apparent to any objective observer".
Hillary Clinton’s Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China. Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ or, after all of their other missteps (Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, Dirty Dossier etc.), their credibility will be forever gone!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
In the case of both Ukraine and China, Mr Trump has made unsubstantiated allegations against Mr Biden.
The President and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani also tried to raise suspicions about Hunter Biden's business dealings in China, leaning heavily on the writings of conservative author Peter Schweizer.
On Monday, Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the allegation that Chinese government business gave Biden's son $1.5 billion "totally groundless".
Mr Trump's requests for Mr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, as well as Mr Giuliani's conduct, are at the centre of an intelligence community whistleblower's complaint that sparked the House Democratic impeachment inquiry last week.
Mr Trump later alleged without evidence that China had a "sweetheart deal" on trade with the US because of the Bidens.
"You know what they call that," Mr Trump said. "They call that a pay-off."
Biden campaign chairman Cedric Richmond dismissed Mr Trump's assertions as a reflection of the President's concerns about facing Mr Biden in his re-election campaign. "This president is scared, and he's acting out," the Louisiana congressman said.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who is taking a leading role in the impeachment inquiry, said Mr Trump's comments showed "he feels he can do anything with impunity". Speaking to reporters in Arizona, Vice President Mike Pence echoed Mr Trump's call for an investigation of the Bidens.
"The American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position as vice president during the last administration," he said.
Mr Trump has faced multiple allegations that he and his children have enriched themselves through his presidential candidacy and time in office, including spending by the US and foreign governments at his properties. Mr Trump has contended that his political life has cost him money, though he is the first major presidential candidate in modern history to refuse to release tax returns that would provide more detail.
Federal Election Commission chairwoman Ellen Weintraub responded to Mr Trump's remarks, tweeting a reminder that it is a violation of campaign finance law for anyone to "solicit accept or receive" anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election.
The agency polices campaign finance laws. But after a recent resignation, its board does not have enough commissioners to legally meet and take enforcement action.
Mr Trump's comments came as he publicly acknowledged that his message to the Ukrainian president and other officials was to investigate Mr Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender. He had ducked the question at a news conference on Wednesday.
"It's a very simple answer," Mr Trump said of his call with Zelensky. "They should investigate the Bidens."
Speaking at a Medicare event in Florida, Mr Trump claimed the Democrats were focusing on impeachment because "they know they can't beat" Republicans in elections.
"That's why they do the impeachment crap because they know they can't beat us fairly," Mr Trump said.
He added that Democratic victories would be bad for the country.
"It'd be a sad, sad day for our country if they ever won," he said.
On Thursday, Mr Pence defended President Trump's July phone call with the Ukrainian president.
"As more facts come out of this, as people take time to read the transcript of the President's call and reflect on these facts, they'll come to realise this is more of the same of what we've seen from Democrats in the last two-and-a-half years," Mr Pence said.
He urged Democratic politicians to focus on "issues" not impeachment.
"Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats ought to be focusing on issues of security, of prosperity, infrastructure, the USMCA, lowering drug prices," Mr Pence said.
Mr Trump has sought to implicate Mr Biden and his son in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration's diplomatic dealings with Kiev.
- with AP
Again, the President of Ukraine said there was NO (ZERO) PRESSURE PUT ON HIM BY ME. Case closed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019