Vice President Mike Pence said it was in America’s best interest for foreign governments to launch investigations into his and President Donald Trump’s political rivals.
Doing so would “drain the swamp,” as Trump promised to do, Pence said while in Scottsdale Thursday.
“I think it’s worth looking into (Biden). The president made it very clear that other nations should look into it, as well,” he said as U.S. Sen. Martha McSally and Gov. Doug Ducey stood by his side during an impromptu press conference after a business roundtable.
Pence’s comments came hours after Trump openly called on China to investigate his chief Democratic rival in next year’s election, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump on Thursday morning said that China “should start an investigation into” former Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over the latter’s involvement in an investment fund that raised money in China.
“I think the American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States, or his family, profited from his position as vice president during the last administration. That’s not looking backwards,” Pence said.
Pence added that it is in America’s best interest for foreign governments like China and Ukraine, which Trump has also asked to investigate the Bidens, to conduct such investigations.
Trump has thrust the U.S. into a tense trade war with China, and his comments Thursday came amid questions about the progress of negotiations with Beijing on a trade agreement.
“I have a lot of options on China, but if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous, tremendous power,” Trump said moments before making his call for China to investigate Biden and his son.
Trump’s interaction with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has already sparked a whistleblower complaint that the Intelligence Community Inspector General has determined is both “credible” and an “urgent concern.” The whistleblower alleged that Trump was abusing the power of his office by withholding military aid for Ukraine in exchange for that country investigating Biden, who is a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
That complaint, and the Trump administration’s subsequent refusal to provide a copy to Congress as required by law, is the central focus of an impeachment inquiry that House Democrats launched late last month.
Pence also told reporters in Scottsdale that he found nothing wrong with Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy, in which the president told his Ukrainian counterpart he needed “a favor” in return for selling that country the anti-tank missiles it uses to defend its eastern border from Russian aggression.
“Anyone who looks at the transcript will see that the president was raising issues that were appropriate, that were of genuine interest of the American people,” Pence said. “There was no quid pro quo, there was no pressure.”
Pence was referring to a rough transcript of the phone call that the White House released on Sept. 25.
While Trump is calling for foreign governments to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings while his father was vice president, his own children are under scrutiny for their business activities since he became president. Trump properties have received over $18 million since Trump was elected, according to OpenSecrets.org.
McSally for Senate
Pence also spoke about McSally, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate in January, only two months after she lost a close election to Kyrsten Sinema, to fill the seat that the late John McCain won in 2014.
Pence said McSally has his and Trump’s “full support,” and they plan to be “by her side” next year during the election.
The main focus of the visit Pence said was to drum up support for the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, commonly referred to as the USMCA.
Pence is traveling with Ducey and McSally to Tucson Thursday afternoon to rally support for the measure, which has been stalled in Congress amid complaints from Demcorats.
“We believe the time has come for Congress to put aside politics and pass the USMCA,” Pence said.