Trump publicly urges China, Ukraine to investigate Bidens amid impeachment inquiry
President Donald Trump said Thursday the Chinese government should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden over the latter’s involvement with an investment fund that raised money in the country.
Trump, however, added that he had not actually asked anyone in China to investigate the matter.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump said that, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.”
“What happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump said.
When asked a moment later whether he had asked China to investigate the Bidens, Trump replied, “I haven’t.”
“But it's certainly something we could start thinking about,” he said. “The guy got kicked out of the Navy and all of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars.
“You know what they call that? A pay-off,” he added.
The president, discussing progress on bilateral negotiations with Beijing on a possible trade agreement just a moment earlier, told reporters that "if they don't do what we want, we have tremendous power.”
Trump, seeking to expand his corruption accusations against the Bidens beyond Ukraine, has in recent days repeatedly accused Hunter Biden of using a 2013 trip on Air Force Two with his father, then the vice president, to procure $1.5 billion from China for a private equity fund he had started.
Prior to Thursday, Trump had not called for an investigation of the matter.
Despite Trump's accusations, there has been no evidence of corruption on the part of the former vice president or his son. A spokesman for Biden's campaign previously told NBC News, "The Washington Post Fact Checker has dismantled this conspiracy theory, Donald Trump's degradation of his office is unacceptable.” The Post's fact-check traced the origins of the $1.5 billion figure to a 2018 book published by conservative author Peter Schweizer.
In addition, Hunter Biden’s spokesman, George Mesires, told NBC News previously that Hunter Biden wasn’t initially an “owner” of the company and has never gotten paid for serving on the board. He said Hunter Biden didn’t acquire an equity interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office.
And when he did, he put in only about $420,000 — a 10 percent interest. That puts the total capitalization of the fund at the time at about $4.2 million — a far cry from the $1.5 billion that Trump has alleged.
Trump also said Thursday that he still wants Ukraine to conduct “a major investigation” into Joe and Hunter Biden.
“I would think that if they were honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens,” he said, adding, “They should investigate the Bidens.”
House Democrats have launched a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump centered on a July 25 phone call between him and the president of Ukraine during which Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the family of the former vice president, Trump's possible 2020 opponent.
The White House has since released a detailed description of the July call, while the House Intelligence Committee made public a lightly redacted version of the intelligence community whistleblower complaint that brought to light the allegations against Trump. The complaint alleged that Trump, in the July phone call, used the power of his office “to solicit interference from a foreign country" in the 2020 election.