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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

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hold steady at 65,000 per day — CDC declares racism "a serious public health threat" — WHO official: Brazil is dealing with "raging inferno" of a COVID outbreak.
  2. Vaccines: America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall — Pfizer asks FDA to expand COVID vaccine authorization to adolescents — CDC says Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply will drop 80% next week.
  3. Economy: Treasury says over 156 million stimulus payments sent out since March — More government spending expected as IMF projects 6% global GDP growth.
  4. Politics: Supreme Court ends California's coronavirus restrictions on home religious meetings.
  5. World: Iran tightens COVID restrictions amid fourth wave of pandemic.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated 1 hour ago - Science

NASA's delays Mars helicopter test flight

Ingenuity (left) with Perseverance on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA announced Saturday it rescheduled its Ingenuity Mars helicopter's first experimental flight, originally planned for Sunday.

The latest: "During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration," NASA said in a statement. "This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode."

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel escorted out of RNC retreat

Ohio Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel. Photo: Chris Maddaloni / Getty Images

During this weekend’s highly anticipated donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee in Palm Beach, Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel was escorted off the premises while his primary opponent, Jane Timken, was allowed to stay, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell Axios.

What we’re hearing: The invitation-only event is taking place at the Four Seasons Resort, and the RNC reserved the entire hotel. While Timken, former Ohio GOP chair, was invited to the event “because she is a major donor” — Mandel was not, so he was asked to leave, according to one of the sources.