In Brief

Donald Trump urges China to investigate Joe Biden

US president defiant in the face of impeachment proceedings

Donald Trump has publicly called on China to investigate Joe Biden, in defiance of an impeachment investigation launched after he made a similar but private request of the Ukrainian prime minister.  

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” the US president said. “What happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.”

Asked if he had already asked China’s leader, Xi Jinping, to mount an investigation into his rival, the president said: “I haven’t, but it’s certainly something we can start thinking about.”

Then, in a late night tweet, he wrote that, as president, he has “an absolute right, perhaps even a duty”, to “investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!”

The news comes after CNN revealed that Trump discussed Biden with Xi in June. During a phone call with the Chinese leader, the US president talked about Biden’s political prospects and those of Elizabeth Warren, who by then had started rising in the polls, according to the broadcaster’s sources.

“Chinese officials listening to Trump might surmise that obtaining a favourable trade deal with the United States may require helping the President win the election,” it said.

The White House does not deny that Biden’s name came up. A spokeswoman said: “We are not going to start discussing the contents of every conversation President Trump has with world leaders, other than to say his conversations are always appropriate.”

In response to Trump’s remarks, a Chinese diplomat said: “This is quite chaotic. We do not want to get in the middle of the US politics.”

Trump accuses Biden and his son Hunter of corruption in their political and business dealings in Ukraine and China. He has never offered evidence.

His latest remarks surprised many. “Impeachment, it seems, has got under Trump’s skin like nothing else,” says The Guardian. “His tone has become more frantic, frenzied and apocalyptic”.

Adam Schiff, the US House intelligence committee's Democratic chairman, said Trump's latest comments mean he has broken his oath of office. “The president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of a president's oath of office,” he said.

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