Oct 3, 2019

Trump says China should investigate Bidens

President Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday that China should launch an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden, though he noted that hasn't yet asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to do so.

REPORTER: What exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call?
TRUMP: Well I would think if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens. Because how does a company newly formed and all these companies 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 that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens. Because nobody has any doubt that they weren't crooked. That was a crooked deal 100%.

Why it matters: It's another instance of the president publicly calling for a foreign power to investigate one of his top political rivals. Trump is currently in the throes of an impeachment inquiry for doing exactly that with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — something he admitted to but continues to argue is perfectly appropriate.

  • At a press conference on Wednesday, Trump refused to answer a question from a reporter about what exactly he was asking Zelensky to do about the Bidens. On Thursday, Trump told reporters: ”If they were honest, they would start a major investigation."

Context: Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine have gotten plenty of press attention, but Trump and Rudy Giuliani have also promoted allegations that the former vice president's son made "millions" in China by leveraging his father's name.

  • In December 2013, Hunter Biden and one of his daughters accompanied Joe Biden to China on a diplomatic trip, according to the Washington Post Fact Checker. During the trip, Hunter helped organize a handshake between his father and business partner Jonathan Li, who was the CEO of a Chinese investment firm.
  • 12 days later, Hunter Biden joined the board of a private-equity fund created by Li and another of Biden's business partners called BHR. A lawyer for Hunter Biden tells the Post that the board "did not directly invest, but instead advised those who did."
  • The lawyer told the Post: "To date, Mr. Biden has not received any return or compensation on account of this investment or his position on the board of directors. The characterization of Mr. Biden as owning a $1.5 billion private equity firm funded by the Chinese, or suggesting that Mr. Biden has earned millions of dollars from the firm is a gross misrepresentation of Mr. Biden's role with BHR."

Go deeper ... Fact check: What Joe and Hunter Biden actually did in Ukraine

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Trump's trifecta

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

For the 3rd time in 4 years, President Trump has asked another country to interfere in U.S. elections.

The big picture: In July 2016, Trump said Russia should "find" and release Hillary Clinton's emails. In July 2019, he told Ukraine to investigate the Biden family. And today, even as he finds himself embroiled in an impeachment inquiry over this very issue, Trump said that China, too, should investigate the Bidens.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

Hunter Biden to step down from board of Chinese company

Hunter Biden. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

Hunter Biden, son of the former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, will be leaving the board of BHR Equity Investment — a private equity fund backed by Chinese state-owned entities — at the end of the month, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The younger Biden is leaving the board amid unsubstantiated allegations by President Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he made millions of dollars from BHR Equity Investment while his father was in office. Trump has suggested that China should investigate Hunter, setting off claims by Democrats that the president is soliciting foreign election interference.

Go deeperArrowOct 13, 2019

Diplomat told House committees that he flagged Hunter Biden's Ukraine work in 2015

Hunter Biden. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

A top U.S. diplomat told the House committees investigating President Trump's dealings with Ukraine Tuesday that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden's board position at a Ukrainian gas company in 2015, but was brushed off by an aide to former Vice President Joe Biden, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: George Kent's testimony is "the first known example of a career diplomat who raised concerns internally in the Obama administration" about Hunter Biden's work, writes the Post.

Go deeperArrowOct 18, 2019