President Trump suggested that China should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son during a June call with China’s President Xi Jinping, CNN reported Thursday, citing two people familiar.
According to CNN, the move “startled Chinese officials, who say they have little interest in becoming embroiled in a US political controversy. And it amounted to the latest extraordinary effort by Trump to openly request political assistance from foreign governments.”
During the June 18 phone call, Trump also brought up Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who by then had started rising in the polls, according to two people familiar with the discussion.
Trump reportedly told Xi during the conversation that he would stay quiet about protests in Hong Kong while the U.S. and China pursued trade negotiations.
The record of the call was stored in a secure electronic system where his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was also kept, CNN reported.
One Trump ally outside the White House described receiving a message from Chinese government officials asking if Trump was serious when he suggested China open an investigation into Biden. The response: investigating corruption is an easy way to earn goodwill with Trump.
The Chinese did not immediately clarify if they would be launching an investigation — or if they would make it public if they do.
Trump on Thursday publicly encouraged China to look into Biden.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters.
The president said he had not explicitly asked Xi to open an investigation, but that it’s “certainly something we can start thinking about.”