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White House trade adviser declines to say whether investigating Bidens was mentioned during China trade talks

Posted October 24, 2019 1:18 p.m. EDT

— White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Thursday declined to answer questions about whether China opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son has come up during trade talks with the US.

"Did you bring up investigating the Bidens as part of the negotiations?" CNN's Jim Sciutto asked Navarro at the CITIZEN by CNN conference in New York.

"It's not an appropriate question in my judgment, OK," Navarro replied.

"It's an easy one for you to say no," Sciutto said, to which Navarro responded: "But you're asking me to violate a principle here."

"I'm not going to talk about that stuff. If I answer that question then you'll ask me another question," he added.

The question came as President Donald Trump faces an impeachment inquiry into whether he pressured Ukraine's President in July to investigate the former vice president and his son, Hunter Biden, in exchange for millions in military aid to the country.

Earlier this month, Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said he wants both Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens. He also raised Biden's political prospects during a June 18 phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens.

The White House record of the June call with Xi was later stored in the highly secured electronic system used to house a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine's President that helped spark a whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry.

Navarro was also pressed by Sciutto on the matter earlier this month during an interview on CNN, but dodged his questions, saying he will "never talk about what happens inside the White House -- not confirm or deny (reports)."

Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate, said in a tweet on Thursday that Navarro declining to answer the questions "is exactly why I called weeks ago for the White House to release transcripts of Trump's calls with Xi Jinping."

"Americans deserve the truth about whether he's pressuring more foreign leaders for political help," Harris wrote in the tweet.

On several occasions, the President has intimated that the Bidens have received millions of dollars from China, implying they capitalized on the then-vice president's political power and connections. The allegations stem partly from an official trip both Bidens took to China in 2013, meant as a diplomatic mission to help ease tensions in the region. A company on whose board Hunter Biden sat received a large investment of Chinese capital shortly after the trip, but as of May 2019, both The New York Times and the Washington Post reported that Hunter had not received any money from the fund or in connection with his role as an unpaid advisory board member.

There is no evidence the former vice president received money from China, and earlier this month, one of Hunter Biden's lawyers told the Washington Post that he hadn't received any "return or compensation on account of this investment or his position on the board of directors."

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