WASHINGTON—A Democratic senator asked the Trump administration to clarify whether U.S. officials sought to inject an investigation of former Vice President
into trade negotiations with Beijing.
Sen. Ron Wyden
of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate’s trade-focused committee, on Tuesday sent letters to senior administration officials after trade adviser
in a television interview declined to address questions on whether Mr. Biden or his son
have come up in talks with Chinese officials.
drew widespread attention Oct. 3 when he told reporters that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.” His comment came just after House Democrats had launched an impeachment inquiry into whether Mr. Trump solicited Ukraine’s help in investigating a political rivals, including Joe Biden.
The president has suggested, without evidence, that Hunter Biden engaged in impropriety as a director of a Chinese private-equity firm. The younger Biden, who stepped down from the firm earlier this month, has denied any wrongdoing in his business dealings in China and Ukraine.
The president said he had not asked his Chinese counterpart about the matter, but added “it’s certainly something we can start thinking about.”
Mr. Trump is under an impeachment investigation in the House for pressing Ukrainian President
to open investigations into matters related to the 2016 election and the Bidens.
Mr. Navarro was asked in an interview with CNN on Oct. 24 whether the Biden issue came up in administration trade talks with China.
“You don’t have a right to know what happens behind closed doors in the administration,” Mr. Navarro replied. “You’re asking me what happens in the White House behind closed doors.”
Mr. Wyden, in a letter to Mr. Navarro reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, said “the American people have every right to know if negotiators are using United States’ trade policy to advance President Trump’s personal and political interests.”
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Mr. Navarro responded “no” when asked by the Journal on Tuesday if he was aware of any trade discussions among administration officials and China that touched on Hunter Biden.
Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser,
previously told reporters that the resumption of trade talks with China had no connection to Mr. Trump’s desire for Beijing to probe the Bidens.
Mr. Wyden says the committee wants answers by Nov. 8 to its questions, including whether officials ever discussed an “existing or proposed investigation of Vice President or Hunter Biden as part of ongoing trade negotiations with China with any Chinese official or Chinese national?”
Similar letters went to U.S. Trade Representative
and Secretary of State
A spokesman for Mr. Ross declined to comment. Spokespeople for Messrs. Lighthizer, Mnuchin and Pompeo didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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