Republicans pushed back Sunday against the uproar over President Trump’s comment about China investigating the Bidens, saying the president wasn’t making a serious request but was rather needling the media.
“I doubt if the China comments were serious, to tell you the truth,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“The president loves to go out on the White House drive-by — 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,” Mr. Blunt said.
Asked whether it was appropriate to ask a foreign government to interfere with a U.S. election, Mr. Blunt replied, “I don’t imagine that’s what he was doing.”
“Certainly we shouldn’t expect the Chinese, the Russians or any of our national security adversaries to be helpful in any way, and if they do come forward with information, I think you’d have to seriously question whether there was any veracity with that information or not,” Mr. Blunt said.
Asked whether Mr. Trump’s request was appropriate, Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, answered with a question of his own: “You really think he was serious about thinking that China’s going to investigate the Biden family?”
Mr. Jordan pointed to Mr. Trump’s crackdown on China, including the White House’s tariffs on Chinese goods and efforts to stop the theft of U.S. intellectual property.
“I think he’s getting the press all spun up about this,” Mr. Jordan told ABC’s “This Week.” “Remember, this is the president who’s been tougher on China than any other president.”
He also cited the Friday response by Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, who told reporters that the president was not making a “real request,” but rather “needling the press, knowing that you guys were going to get outraged by it.”
“I think he did it to dig you guys. I think he did it to provoke you to ask me and others and get outraged by it,” said Mr. Rubio, a staunch critic of Chinese human rights abuses. “He plays it like a violin and everyone falls right into it. That’s not a real request.”
House Democrats launched last month an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump’s request for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden over his son Hunter Biden’s receiving a seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company despite having no apparent qualifications.
Hunter Biden also owns a stake in the Chinese government-backed Bohai Harvest Equity Investment Fund, and has been accused of leveraging his relationship with the then-vice president to benefit the company, something Joe Biden denies.
In comments to reporters Thursday, Mr. Trump reiterated that he thought Ukraine should launch a “major investigation” into the Bidens.
“And, 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,” Mr. Trump said.
Other Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, have criticized Mr. Trump’s China remarks.
“I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent,” Ms. Collins told reporters, as reported by the Bangor Daily News. “It’s completely inappropriate.”
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