Kudlow: ‘I don’t honestly know’ if Trump was joking about China investigating Bidens

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Monday that he is unsure whether President Trump was joking when he suggested China should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I don’t honestly know,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House when asked if Trump was joking or not serious when he raised the prospect of China investigating the Biden family last week. A handful of Republicans have said Trump wasn’t serious with the suggestion.

Kudlow also said that Trump’s call for China to investigate the Biden family had not come up during trade discussions, which are set to continue in Washington this week, and that the issues would not be linked together.

“The president’s view is there is no linkage between that and the trade talks. I guarantee there will be no linkage,” Kudlow told reporters.

Trump last week publicly urged Ukraine and China to investigate unsubstantiated corruption allegations about Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and his son Hunter.

Trump subsequently told reporters he would keep issues related to Biden “separate” from trade discussions with China while insisting he has the “obligation” to call on foreign countries to investigate corruption and that his urgings had nothing to do with politics.

Trump’s calls have triggered massive scrutiny from House Democrats who are currently pressing forward with an impeachment inquiry focused on a private conversation during which Trump asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden.

Republicans have offered varying degrees of defense of Trump, with some suggesting he was not serious when he urged China to investigate the Bidens.

“I think he’s getting the press all spun up about this. Remember, this is the president who’s been tougher on China than any other president,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a key Trump ally, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

“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,” Jordan continued.

Trump administration officials are hosting a delegation of Chinese officials for trade discussions later this week as the U.S. and China seek to resolve their ongoing trade dispute.

Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a partial transcript of which has since been released by the White House, triggered a whistleblower complaint alleging Trump was using his official office to solicit foreign interference in an election.

Trump has insisted there was nothing improper about his conversation with Ukraine, while doubling down on the allegations against Biden without offering specific evidence.

“I’m only interested in corruption. I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about Biden’s politics. I never thought Biden was going to win, to be honest,” Trump told reporters at the White House Friday. 

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