Rep. Jim Jordan on Sunday insisted President Trump was not “serious” about asking China to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“Do you think it’s appropriate for President Trump to ask China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?” asked George Stephanopoulos in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
“George, you really think he was serious about thinking that China’s going to investigate the Biden family?” Jordan, R-Ohio, responded, smiling.
“He said it right there in public,” Stephanopoulos pointed out.
“As I think Senator [Marco] Rubio said a couple of days ago, I think he’s getting the press all spun up about this.”
Rubio, R-Fla., at a press conference Friday said he doubted Trump was making “a real request” when he called on China in addition to Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. As he’d done with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, Trump had also discussed his political rivals with China’s President Xi Jinping. During a June 18 phone call, the president brought up the standing of Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in the presidential race, CNN reported Thursday. While the record of that call was stored in the same highly secure electronic system that houses the full record of Trump’s call with Zelensky, Trump is also reported to have told Xi that he would remain silent on protests in Hong Kong while trade negotiations continued with the U.S.
To call on a foreign government to investigate a political opponent is illegal, and is the primary reason why House Democrats are conducting an impeachment inquiry.
“Remember, this is the president who’s been tougher on China than any other president,” said Jordan, who sits on the House Oversight Committee. “The same guy who’s been tougher on China now thinks, ‘Oh, China’s going to investigate’ — he was just making a statement to just underscore how wrong it is what took place here with Hunter Biden getting these deals that he got. That’s all he’s doing.”
“So the president asked China to investigate. We’re not supposed to take the president at his word?” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“Again, I think Senator Rubio said it best,” Jordan said.
“But he said in public the exact same thing he said in private to the Ukrainian president,” Stephanopoulos countered.
Jordan argued that outrage, which also came from a member of his party, sparked by Trump’s comment should instead be directed at a claim that the “Democrat National Committee hired a foreigner [Ukraine] who worked with Russians to dig up dirt on the president.”
“So should I conclude from that that you don’t think it would be appropriate for the president to ask China to investigate the Bidens?” asked Stephanopoulos.
“I don’t think anyone in America really believes — except people maybe in the press and some Democrats in Congress really believe that the president of the United States thinks China is going to investigate,” Jordan said.
Republican Party leader Sen. Roy Blunt also cast doubt on Trump’s words, saying on Sunday, “I doubt the China comment is serious.”
“The president loves to go out on the White House driveway,” said Blunt, R-Missouri, who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee. “I haven't talked to him about this. I don’t know what the president was thinking. But I do know he loves to bait the press and he does that almost every day to see what you’ll talk about.”
Earlier this year, Trump claimed his call for Russia to find stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee was a “joke.”
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said at a July 2016 news conference, and days after the FBI quietly opened an investigation, Operation Crossfire Hurricane, into connections between his campaign and Russia.
In March, he passed the request off as a joke: “I’ve learned with the fake news, if you tell a joke, if you are sarcastic, if you're having fun with the audience, if you are on live television with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena, and if you say something like ‘Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton's emails! Please, Russia, please! Please get us the emails! Please!’”
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