By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that Chinese authorities should open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden as pressure continues to mount on the president amid a widening impeachment investigation.
Trump denied asking Chinese officials to carry out the probe into Biden and his son, Hunter, but told reporters before leaving the White House for Florida, "it's certainly something we can start thinking about."
"China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine," Trump said, referring to his other unsubstantiated claims of corruption against the Bidens in Ukraine.
Chinese officials are slated to visit Washington beginning next week for a new round of trade negotiations.
The president earlier Thursday retweeted an NBC News report scrutinizing a 2013 trip Biden took to China in which his son accompanied him on the official visit. At the time, Hunter Biden was seeking to form a private Chinese equity fund, and he reportedly met with a Chinese banker during the visit.
Authorities in Shanghai issued the fund a business license 10 days later, according to NBC.
Trump further acknowledged asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens during a July 25 telephone call that has become the foundation for the House of Representatives' impeachment investigation into the president.
"It's a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens," he said one day after refusing to answer during a press conference what he wanted Zelensky to do about the Bidens.
The elder Biden dismissed the president's charges of corruption during a campaign rally, calling them baseless.
"I don't care how much money you spend, Mr. President, or how dirty the attacks get. Trump knows there are no truth in the charges against me. None. Zero," he said. "Every independent news organization that has reviewed the charges at length has found it to be a flat-out lie, his assertions. Every single one of them."
The House began its impeachment investigation into Trump last week. At issue is the phone conversation the president had with Zelensky in which Trump repeatedly pressed him to investigate former Biden and his son.
The elder Biden is the leading Democratic candidate heading into next year's presidential elections, making him a clear political rival to Trump.
Soliciting the assistance of a foreign leader to undermine Biden has raised questions of election interference that have been the foundation for the House's impeachment investigation.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, maintaining his call with Zelensky was "perfect" while seeking to undermine the whistleblower whose complaint brought the phone call and other related matters to the public's attention.