This should be the ultimate softball question. “Of course not! How dare you suggest something so corrupt? That’s CNN for you, always imagining the worst about the president.”
Instead Navarro doggedly refuses to give a straight answer. How come? His excuse, that it’s bad form to discuss what happens behind closed doors inside the White House, is nonsense on stilts. If Jim Sciutto had asked him instead whether, say, Trump is taking orders from Vladimir Putin, I’m sure Navarro would have replied with some variation of “No, you Russia-obsessed media crank.”
No comment in this case, though.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) October 24, 2019
The best-case explanation for his reticence is that the Bidens haven’t been mentioned during talks in which Navarro has been directly involved but he doesn’t want to inch out on a limb by assuming that they’ve never been mentioned by other negotiators. Who could blame him? Trump’s relations with Ukraine involved not one but possibly two unofficial back channels. The president himself stood on the White House lawn a few weeks ago and remarked that China should take a look at Hunter Biden’s business interests. Trump has also allegedly told Xi Jinping that he wouldn’t criticize China over Hong Kong in order to make trade negotiations between the two sides run more smoothly. How hard is it to believe that he’d request a concession unrelated to trade from China in return?
So that’s the best-case scenario, that Navarro has no reason to believe the Bidens have come up but isn’t confident enough in Trump’s integrity to stake his own credibility on it. Whereas the worst-case scenario is that … they have come up and Navarro has first-hand knowledge. That another illicit quid pro quo aimed at generating dirt on the Democratic frontrunner is in the works even as Trump faces impeachment for the one with Ukraine. Which would fit a sort of pattern: Remember that his phone call to Zelensky on July 25th happened the day after Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress. The president isn’t one to change his behavior just because watchdogs are sniffing around.
In fact, according to CNN, there’s reason to believe that Trump has already spoken to Xi Jinping about the Bidens. From a report on October 3:
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.”
Note that it was Biden’s “political prospects” that allegedly came up between Trump and Xi, not “fighting corruption” or whatever. How hard is it to believe at this point that someone, whether Trump or a deputy, has communicated to the Chinese that if they want this trade war and the attendant pain to their economy to end, an investigation of Hunter Biden would be “helpful”?
A Twitter pal makes an excellent related point. If it’s true that the Bidens were raised by the U.S. side during trade talks, the Chinese now have tremendous leverage over Trump on the trade deal thanks to the uproar over Ukraine. They would obviously realize how explosive that information would be if it came out right now, possibly even putting Trump at risk of removal in the Senate once House Democrats added it to the articles of impeachment. It would prove that Trump’s interactions with Ukraine weren’t a one-off; if he’s talking to China about the Bidens too, there’s every reason to believe he’ll continue to use his leverage over U.S. policy to squeeze foreign powers for dirt he can use against Democratic candidates during the election.
Navarro must understand the implications. So why not just say, “No, of course we didn’t discuss the Bidens,” and move on?
Right now Pelosi’s watching this clip, wondering, “Am I going to have to impeach this guy again six months from now when we find out there was a quid pro quo with China too?” Better go nice and slow with that impeachment inquiry in the House.