Rep. Jordan suggests Trump was only joking when asking China to investigate the Bidens — despite private plea to Xi

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.

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Hunter Biden through the years
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden speaks on stage at the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
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WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden (L) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden attend the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
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US Vice President Joe Biden (C) buys an ice-cream at a shop as he tours a Hutong alley with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden (R) and son Hunter Biden (L) in Beijing on December 5, 2013. Biden said on December 5 China's air zone had caused "significant apprehension" and Beijing needed to reduce Asia-Pacific tensions to protect its growing stake in regional peace and stability. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andy Wong (Photo credit should read ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - DECEMBER 04: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden waves as he walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden (C) and son Hunter Biden (R) at the airport December 4, 2013 in Beijing, China. Biden is on the first leg of his week-long visit to Asia. (Photo by Ng Han Guan-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and World Food Program USA Board Chair Hunter Biden taking the Live Below the Line Challenge, eating and drinking on $1.50 a day to raise awareness of global hunger and World Food Programme school feeding efforts around the world, at World Food Program USA on May 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
President Barack Obama, left, Vice President Joe Biden, center, and Hunter Biden share a laugh during the first half of the NCAA basketball game between Georgetown and Duke at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Saturday January 30, 2010. Georgetown defeated Duke, 89-77. (Photo by Chuck Myers/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 29: Hunter Biden (l) and actor Woody Harrelson pose for a photo at the after party following the 2nd Annual IMPACT Film Festival's screening of "The Messenger" at Posh on October 29, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (2R) arrives at Arlington National Cemetery with his wife Dr. Jill Biden (R), his son Hunter (L) and his daughter-in-law Kathleen for the internment services for U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy in Arlington, Virginia, August 29, 2009. Kennedy died late Tuesday after a battle with cancer. AFP PHOTO/POOL/Jim BOURG (Photo credit should read JIM BOURG/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - JANUARY 20: Vice-President Joe Biden arrives with his family, wife Jill, sons Hunter and Beau at the reviewing stand to watch the Inaugural Parade from in front of The White House January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, becoming the first African-American to be elected to the President in the US. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Hunter Biden and guest attend the Artists And Athletes Alliance red carpet event at Inaugural Honors ServiceNation, held at Cafe Milano in Georgetown January 19, 2009 Washington, DC. (Photo by Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)
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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-Miss., 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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Donald Trump faces impeachment inquiry
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Donald Trump faces impeachment inquiry
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