Saturday 19 October 2019

President calls on China to probe Bidens as his Ukraine claims falter

Joe Biden hopes to fend off rivals by spending big on ads. Photo: Reuters
Joe Biden hopes to fend off rivals by spending big on ads. Photo: Reuters

Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller

Ensnared in an impeachment investigation over his request for Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival, President Donald Trump yesterday called on another nation to probe former vice president Joe Biden: China.

"China should start an investigation into the Bidens," Mr Trump said. He added he hadn't directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate Mr Biden and his son Hunter but "certainly something we could start thinking about".

The president and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have also tried to raise suspicions about Hunter Biden's business dealings in China, leaning on the writings of right-wing writer Peter Schweizer. But there is no evidence the former vice president benefited financially from his son's business relationships.

Mr Trump's requests for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on Mr Biden, as well as Mr Giuliani's conduct, are at the centre of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the House Democratic impeachment probe last week.

The president's comments came as he publicly acknowledged his message to Mr Zelenskiy and other officials was to investigate the 2020 Democratic presidential contender. Mr Trump's accusations of impropriety are unsupported by evidence.

"It's a very simple answer," Mr Trump said of his call with Mr Zelenskiy.

"They should investigate the Bidens."

Mr Trump has sought to implicate Mr Biden, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, and his son in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine.

Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading President Barack Obama's diplomatic dealings with Kiev.

Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.

It has also emerged Mr Biden will spend $6m (€5.5m) in television and digital advertising in the first four states on the 2020 election-year calendar. It's the latest demonstration of an increasingly aggressive campaign as he tries to hold his place as the party's top challenger to Mr Trump.

The ad blitz comes as the former vice president steps up his counter-attacks after Mr Trump's onslaught. Mr Biden still leads most national Democratic primary polls, but Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren gained ground throughout the summer and pulled even or surpassed Mr Biden in some recent Iowa and New Hampshire surveys.

Ms Warren recently announced a $10m (€9.1m) advertising blitz in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, where Mr Biden is now focusing his ads.

Mr Trump has raised hundreds of millions of dollars, blanketing social media with advertising.

Irish Independent

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