Trump Now Asking China To Investigate Joe Biden

Donald Trump is now committing his crimes in public.

Even as he faces a growing impeachment inquiry based on his private conversation with the President of Ukraine asking for his assistance in investigating former Vice-President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, President Trump is now publicly asking China to do the same thing:

President Trump on Thursday publicly called on China to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., in an extraordinary presidential request to a foreign country for help that could benefit him in the 2020 election.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Mr. Trump said Thursday as he left the White House to travel to Florida where he was expected to announce an executive order on Medicare.

The call for China to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings there came as the first witness appeared on Capitol Hill to be interviewed by House investigators as part of an impeachment inquiry into the president’s request in a phone call for help from President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

Mr. Trump has defended his conversation with Mr. Zelensky as “perfect” even after a reconstructed transcript of the call was released that showed him seeking help from Ukraine in investigating the Bidens. And he doubled down on his request on Thursday.

“I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens,” Mr. Trump said.

“Because nobody has any doubt that they weren’t crooked.”

These requests, which critics argue are an abuse of presidential power, echo comments Mr. Trump made as a presidential candidate in 2016 for Russia to release missing emails of his political opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump made the comments about China ahead of the latest round of trade talks, which are set to take place next week.

“We’re going to have a meeting with them, we’ll see,” Mr. Trump said of the talks. “I have a lot of options on China. But if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

In calling for China to investigate the Bidens, Mr. Trump referred to a business deal Hunter Biden was in that involved a fund drawing from investment from the Chinese government-owned Bank of China.

The fund was announced in late 2013 — days after Hunter Biden and one of his daughters flew to China from Japan aboard Air Force Two with the vice president, who was in the midst of a diplomatic mission to calm rising tensions in the region, warning Chinese leaders not to use fighter jets to enforce an air defense zone created by Beijing over contested waters. Hunter Biden and his daughter participated in a few public events there with Mr. Biden.

The conservative author Peter Schweizer claimed that Hunter Biden used the trip to secure a deal with the Bank of China. That allegation has been echoed by Mr. Trump’s allies, and by the president himself on Thursday.

But a lawyer for Hunter Biden has said that he did not conduct any business related to the China investment fund on that trip, and that he was never an equity owner in the fund while his father was vice president. Hunter Biden later acquired a 10 percent interest in the entity that oversees the fund, but to date has not received any money from the arrangement, according to the lawyer.

Mr. Trump on Thursday said he had not personally asked President Xi for assistance. “But it’s certainly something we can start thinking about because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being under that kind of scrutiny.”

More from Politico:

President Donald Trump on Thursday openly called for China to launch an investigation into the Bidens, boldly engaging in activity similar to the allegations at the heart of House Democrats’ rapidly intensifying impeachment probe.

Speaking to reporters as he departed the White House for Florida, the president once again urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open a corruption investigation into the Bidens, but brought up China unprompted when asked what action he wanted his Ukrainian counterpart to take.

“Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens,” the president told reporters about Ukraine. “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens. Because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”

The admission provides a new dimension to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump, which centers on Democrats’ allegations that he withheld U.S. military aid for Ukraine as he pressured Zelensky for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump’s comments about a potential China probe came shortly after he discussed how the two superpowers are locked in intense trade negotiations.

Trump has repeatedly hammered Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings over the last few weeks as he’s defended urging the Ukrainian president to open an investigation during a July phone call. That call, and a whistleblower complaint raising alarms about his request, have landed the president in the middle of an impeachment inquiry in Congress.

Trump and his allies have claimed that Hunter Biden convinced China to put $1.5 billion in a fund for an investment firm he had a stake in, assertions lawyers for the former vice president’s son have denied.

Lawyers for Hunter Biden have told multiple media outlets that he did not have a financial stake in the firm until after his father left public office.

(…)

Trump noted — also unprompted — that Chinese negotiators would be in town next week as high-stakes trade talks between the two countries resume, with potentially billions of dollars in tariffs on the line.

“I have a lot of options on China,” he said of the trade talks, “but if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

Biden critics have pointed to a trip to China in 2013 that Joe Biden took while vice president. Hunter accompanied his father on the trip, where he arranged a meeting between the vice president and a Chinese banker involved with the firm, though Hunter Biden’s lawyer denied any business was conducted on the trip.

The president on Thursday denied that he’d already reached out to China’s president, Xi Jinping, about a potential probe into the Bidens. “I haven’t, but it’s certainly something we can start thinking about,” Trump said.

He also predicted that the business dealings of the Biden would weigh heavily on his presidential campaign.

“Well, I think Biden is going down, and I think his whole situation, because now you may very well find that there are many other countries that they scam just like they scam China and Ukraine,” Trump said.

In essence, we now have the President doing in public vis a vis China the same thing that he did in a private July 25th phone call with the President of Ukraine and the same thing he did in 2016 when he asked Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails. Specifically, he is soliciting the leader of a foreign nation to find compromising information on a political opponent. As I’ve said before, this is a clear violation of the law, specifically 50 U.S.C. 30121(2) which states that “It shall be unlawful for… a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation [of a thing of value] from a foreign national.” Additionally, there would be potential violations of 18 U.S.C. 371(1) which states:

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both

As with Ukraine, there isn’t a direct quid pro quo the fact that the President appears to have directly linked progress on ongoing trade negotiations with China to the Biden matter makes it fairly clear that China would stand to benefit in the trade talks if it opened an investigation of the former Vice President and his son. The statute above, of course, does not require a quid pro quo. All it requires is that the President is soliciting a thing of value, and opposition research is most assuredly a thing of value, from a foreign government. This is essentially a public call for the exact same thing he asked Ukraine for in the July 25th phone call.

What’s most remarkable about this, I suppose, is that the President is doing this in public now. He is quite literally impeaching himself and opening yet another avenue for potential impeachment. In addition to this, of course, there are also reports from earlier this week that Trump has asked foreign leaders from nations such as Australia for assistance in the investigation of what amounts to a debunked conspiracy theory about the Russia investigation. This includes direct appeals by Attorney General William Barr to authorities in Australia, Italy, and Ukraine regarding the same manner. The fish stinks from the head down.

FILED UNDER: China, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Joe Biden, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    What’s most remarkable about this, I suppose, is that the President is doing this in public now.

    No, what is most remarkable about this is that a majority of Republicans, including the lickspittle politicians, will continue to stand behind him even after he blatantly commits crimes…

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  2. Moosebreath says:

    @An Interested Party:

    “No, what is most remarkable about this is that a majority of Republicans, including the lickspittle politicians, will continue to stand behind him even after he blatantly commits crimes.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, your party who believes character matters!

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  3. Kathy says:

    Stand back. I’m about to attempt something extremely difficult and very dangerous:

    “I’m going to ask China to investigate any actual or potential acts of corruption by American nationals doing business in China.”

    I almost died! Did you see? It took me months to come up with the wording, too. So hard!

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  4. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think this is an argument of the form, “There’s nothing at all wrong with my behavior, see, now I’m going to do it in public.” This isn’t a legal argument, it’s a political one.

    It has been graphically demonstrated that as long as he’s president, he is not going to face the criminal justice system (I just learned in the last week that the person who first articulated the policy that the president can’t be indicted was John Mitchell. Sigh.) So the only thing that can hurt him is a political thing. Thus we have this.

    We need to start posing the question as to whether Republicans are OK with a Democratic president doing this kind of thing in the future. That’s the political argument. Put the shoe on the other foot.

    For instance, I would love it if some of the Presidential candidates would suggest that they ask the government of the Phillipines to look into the Trump Organization’s dealings there, after they are elected, and mention all the spending on military bases we do there. Do we think that’s ok, that’s fair, then?

    I would love to see someone like Beto or Pete or maybe even Kamala go out on this limb. Just watch Fox News try to ignore that…

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  5. Modulo Myself says:

    We need to start posing the question as to whether Republicans are OK with a Democratic president doing this kind of thing in the future.

    Lol, of course they’re not. If Hillary Clinton were acting like this, she would be gone and we wold be having conversations about if women should be allowed to vote.

    From now on, Trump’s entire policy is going to be about how the DNC set him up, framed the Russians, and how the Bidens/Obama/Clintons all made money off of it. And if you find it funny or pathetic or fucking idiotic or criminal, you’re just taking the other side. He’s an abusive Dad supported by the little people like Dave Schuler–guys who have never stood up on their own in their lives and are adopting Trump as surrogate, even if they’re 75.

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  6. Slugger says:

    Whatever comes out of next week’s meeting of the President and the Chinese, it will be tainted by these remarks by Mr. Trump. Would the Chinese nudge or even totally fabricate some evidence against Hunter Biden? Why wouldn’t they? I doubt that they care about American standards of justice. Giving Trump some evidence against the Bidens is a smart move for them especially if they can show that it’s fake at some later date. They can use it as a quid pro quo, or undercut Trump at a later date if the deal is not to their liking. Trump has just impeached anything the Chinese say.

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Ladies and gentlemen, your party who believes character matters!

    They do believe it. And they’re right to believe it. They’re just horrible judges of character.

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  8. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The problem being that Beto and Kamala can be indicted, tried, convicted, fined and/or imprisoned for such an act.

    I think a private citizen wouldn’t be, not if they’re not using it for a political campaign or against a political candidate.

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  9. Gustopher says:

    Normalizing behavior by doing it on the front lawn of the White House.

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  10. DrDaveT says:

    As with Ukraine, there isn’t a direct quid pro quo

    You’re putting way too much weight on the adjective direct here. Any time a negotiator asks for a favor from the party he is negotiating with, the quid pro quo is explicit.

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  11. al Ameda says:

    Tune into FoxNews if you have the time and you’ll see that people who are normally dull and low value are now buying into the disinformation and lies that Trump and Giuliani putting out there every day.

    Viewers are being told that Adam Schiff helped write the whistle blower complaint, that he should resign and in any case be indicted. That the Ukraine was working for Hillary Clinton, _______________ (fill in what ever lie comes to mind.)

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  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    Dems should take away Tiny’s Biden punching bag. At Pelosi’s next press conference when she’s asked about the Bidens, she should simply say that they are private citizens and if the DoJ has evidence that a crime has been committed then it should convene a grand jury. I’ve used this on a couple of Trumpkins and I’m waiting for them to get back to me with a response.

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  13. Teve says:

    A new talking point the right-wing is trying to push is that a law from 1998 that Bill Clinton signed makes what Trump is doing A-OK. It’s extremely stupid and wrong, so don’t be surprised when you see Republicans repeat it.

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  14. Scott F. says:

    The law couldn’t be clearer and Trump just doesn’t care that he is violating it.

    Now, he’s basically taunting the country with “I get to decide what is allowed and if you disagree, come and get me!”

    Then he’s counting on his base and his Republican Party to circle him in defense.

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  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    I used to respect Dave Schuler, even admire him. But he became a prisoner of his hatred of Hillary and has gone from ‘Good German’ to collaborator. He’s the reason his idiot follower @Guarneri doesn’t realize just how pathetically exposed he is.

    Schuler banned me a couple years back, I suspect for pointing out how his obsessive hatred of Chicago Democrats had distorted his entire world view. Now he putters around his irrelevant blog fisking economics articles no one cares about – debating the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. The house is burning down around him and he’s polishing the silver. If I were a better man I’d feel pity, but hell, I’m just me, so I’m afraid it’s contempt.

    These last couple of years have been an eye opener for me and not in a good way. I knew racism existed, I didn’t know just how deeply the virus had taken hold in white people of my generation. I was even less aware of the intensity of misogyny. Not sexism, misogyny – hate. Hate and fear. I’m disappointed in my fellow Americans, and only now have I come to realize how great it has been to have two crazy kids and that my job has been to write for, and talk to, Millennials. Without my kids and ‘my kids’ I can all too easily imagine myself descending into that same bitterness and disappointment and indifference to the future, even hostility toward the future.

    I used to think I was a much worse person. I assumed just about everyone was my moral superior. I mean, Jesus, I know me, I was present through all of my life and God knows I am no role model, even to myself. But I never hated by category, by race, by sex, by religion. I just stole money, I never forgot which country was mine. I was an asshole, but I never hid from the truth, even when the truth was unflattering. I suppose this should make me feel good, but the realization that at least half the people of this country are actually worse than me is horrifying. I’m not in the hero role in the book of my life, I’m supposed to be the bad boy who found some redemption. I wrote myself as a three on a ten-point morality scale. It’s disturbing to realize I’m not as close to the bottom as I expected to be. Koyaanisqatsi.

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  16. An Interested Party says:

    Koyaanisqatsi

    Sometimes it’s hard not to fall into a misanthropic state of mind while observing all the hatred, racism, misogyny, and stupidity in this world…and to think that a substantial portion of the population of this country thinks that this president has done nothing wrong and is actually helping a lot of people…it’s quite sad…Mencken was right…

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  17. Jay L Gischer says:

    For what it’s worth, it’s entirely possible that a lot of the conservative media activity reflects a desire to thing about pretty much anything other than what a terrible choice they made for president. Maybe that’s why they are so easy to distract with conspiracy theories or with fisking economics articles nobody cares about.

    And there’s definitely money to be made giving them an alternate world that is a lot less painful. Lots of it.

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  18. Kari Q says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I’ve said something similar: if the Bidens broke the law, the DOJ should prosecute and they should go to jail. If Obama broke the law, he should go to jail. If Hillary broke the law, she should go to jail. Trump admitted he did something against the law. What should happen to him?

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  19. DrDaveT says:

    @michael reynolds:

    These last couple of years have been an eye opener for me and not in a good way. I knew racism existed, I didn’t know just how deeply the virus had taken hold in white people of my generation. I was even less aware of the intensity of misogyny.

    Yeah, same here. With a side order of “WTF, given a choice between what Jesus said and what Trump said, the Christians are openly siding with Trump!?”

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  20. Kathy says:

    @Kari Q:

    Yes, but it’s important for the Democrats not to go to the mat for Biden. All allegations should be met with “Congress has no oversight powers on private citizens.”

    Besides, remind them, if necessary, that Biden’s alleged misconduct occurred when the GOP controlled Congress. Why didn’t they investigate then? Or, failing that, during the two years following when they also had control of Congress?

    The answer is that Biden wasn’t running for office then, naturally.

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  21. Stormy Dragon says:

    One big detail you gloss over in your article is that one of the quid pro quos he offered China was to look the other way if they crack down on the Hong Kong protestors

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  22. Moosebreath says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    “For what it’s worth, it’s entirely possible that a lot of the conservative media activity reflects a desire to thing about pretty much anything other than what a terrible choice they made for president. Maybe that’s why they are so easy to distract with conspiracy theories or with fisking economics articles nobody cares about.”

    The problem is that many of the same conservative media groups were into silly conspiracy theories decades before Trump was elected. Clinton’s cocaine ring? Vincent Foster’s death?

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  23. MarkedMan says:

    The Trumpers are out there about the Whistleblower this, the Whistleblower that, but the press seems unable to call them out about it. Because at this point, what the hell does the Whistleblower matter? They’re not credible? Trump has already admitted to everything he said! Not only that, but openly repeated it with China! What’s the point of taking down the Whistleblower??

    Actually, the answer is obvious. It’s to send a message to other potential whistleblowers. Our main stream media is too simple to understand they are being used.

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  24. Kari Q says:

    @Kathy:

    I agree with you about why Biden wasn’t investigated, but I don’t see any reason to even bring it up. The key is to keep the focus on Trump. Agree that if Biden, or any other Democrat, broke the law they should be punished, then return to Trump.

    No one else matters, and debating why Biden wasn’t investigated them just shifts the discussion away from the person undermining democracy.

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  25. Monala says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I agree. There are people I know, committed Christians, who say the most absurd things to deny the truth about Trump. “He’s such a man of prayer!” one woman gushes. A church elder I know talks about how humble Trump is in all his speeches. I know that some Trump supporters like him because they like his utter amorality and boorishness. But there are others who in other circumstances would oppose everything Trump is and stands for, yet they voted for him. I’ve come to believe that those people have decided to live in utter denial, lest they actually have to admit the horrible choice they’ve made.

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  26. DrDaveT says:

    @Monala:

    A church elder I know talks about how humble Trump is in all his speeches.

    He does perfect humble. The best. Many people say so.

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  27. al Ameda says:

    @Monala:

    I agree. There are people I know, committed Christians, who say the most absurd things to deny the truth about Trump. “He’s such a man of prayer!” one woman gushes. A church elder I know talks about how humble Trump is in all his speeches. I know that some Trump supporters like him because they like his utter amorality and boorishness. But there are others who in other circumstances would oppose everything Trump is and stands for, yet they voted for him. I’ve come to believe that those people have decided to live in utter denial, lest they actually have to admit the horrible choice they’ve made.

    These folks have made their deal:
    They will accept all manner of Trump’s indecency, lies, immorality, vindictiveness, and law breaking as along as he delivers on the Christian evangelical agenda. Conservative judges [check], move toward banning of abortion [check], support of ‘christian conscience’ claims that enable these folks to discriminate against whomever they want to discriminate against [check]

    Trump is delivering for them, so they do not care about him as a person, they don’t have to.

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  28. An Interested Party says:

    They will accept all manner of Trump’s indecency, lies, immorality, vindictiveness, and law breaking as along as he delivers on the Christian evangelical agenda.

    I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t approve of their ends justifying the means rationale for supporting this odious person…of course, a lot of evangelicals seem to have either forgotten or never knew what Jesus was really all about…

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