When President Donald Trump suggested — without prompting — that China should investigate Joe Biden and his son, he thrust another political grudge into what was already the world's most complicated and consequential relationship.
The move startled Chinese officials, who say they have little interest in becoming embroiled in a US political controversy. And it amounted to the latest extraordinary effort by Trump to openly request political assistance from foreign governments.
Thursday's comments weren't the first time Trump has injected Biden into his relationship with China, though he said Thursday he has never pushed Xi to investigate the former vice president. Nor is it the first time he has sought to trade favors with Xi, who this week celebrated the 70th birthday of his ruling communist party with a note of congratulations from Trump.
During a phone call with Xi on June 18, Trump raised Biden's political prospects as well as those of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who by then had started rising in the polls, according to two people familiar with the discussion. In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet on Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed.
The White House record of that call was later stored in the highly secured electronic system used to house a now-infamous phone call with Ukraine's President and which helped spark a whistleblower complaint that's led Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
On Thursday, Trump told reporters at the White House he'd consider asking his counterpart in Beijing to investigate the Bidens, adding to a growing list of foreign leaders he's tried to enlist in his attempts to bring down a potential Democratic challenger.
"It's certainly something we can start thinking about," Trump said when questioned whether he would seek the help of Xi in investigating Biden. "Because I'm sure that President Xi does not like being under that kind of scrutiny."
The impeachable offenses keep adding up, Trump admits more seemingly daily at this point.
Dems can impeach, but there's no guarantee it will matter.