Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he has doubts about whether President Trump was being sincere when he publicly called on the Chinese government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's youngest son, Hunter, who once sat on the board of a Shanghai-based private-equity firm.
"I don't know what the president was thinking," Blunt said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "But I do know he loves to bait the press and he does that almost every day."
During a gaggle with reporters on Thursday, Mr. Trump called on the Ukrainian government to start a "major investigation" into Hunter Biden, who also sat on the board of a natural gas company in Ukraine. The once behind-the-scene efforts by him, his administration and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pressure the Ukrainian government are now at the center of an impeachment inquiry launched by the Democratic-led House.
Minutes after making this public call, Mr. Trump said China should also start an investigation into Hunter Biden and his business dealings there. "What happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine," the president told reporters, adding that he could "start thinking about" asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to order such an investigation.
As with his work in Ukraine, there is no evidence that the younger Biden was involved in any wrongdoing through his business dealings in China.
Although Mr. Trump's extraordinary public request to the government of another foreign country provoked even more criticism from Democrats in Congress, Republicans on Capitol Hill remained largely silent.
Only a small group of Republican lawmakers, including senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine, have explicitly denounced the president's comments. Others, like Blunt and Florida senator and China hawk Marco Rubio, have suggested that Mr. Trump was simply joking.
Blunt said he couldn't "imagine" that the purpose of Mr. Trump's comments was to have a foreign power interfere in American domestic politics — a request he suggested would be essentially useless anyhow.
"We shouldn't expect the Chinese, the Russians, or any of our other national security adversaries to be helpful in any way and if they do come forward with the information," Blunt added. "I think you'd have to seriously question whether there was any veracity to that information or not."