New York: With Democrats breathing down his neck with their impeachment proceedings, US President Donald Trump has defiantly called on China to investigate former Vice President John Biden and his son Hunter over their business deals there.
Trump said on Thursday: "China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine."
On September 24, House Democrats launched the impeachment proceedings against Trump accusing him of trying to get a foreign country to intervene in US elections by having made a similar request in a phone call to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky to probe the Bidens.
Joe Biden is seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run against Trump in next year's election.
Trump, who has denounced the impeachment as a witch hunt and worse, this time made the request to China openly, just days before a Beijing delegation is to visit the US for trade negotiations.
The chair of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, which is conducting an investigation into the Trump-Zelensky call, Adam Schiff, said: "The President of the US encouraging a foreign nation to interfere and help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the President's oath of office."
A Biden campaign official, Kate Bedingfield, denounced Trump's China request as "a grotesque choice of lies over truth and self over the country", and compared it to his call to Russia during the 2016 campaign to find his opponent Hillary Clinton's 30,000 missing e-mails.
Senator Kamala Harris, who is one of the Democrats running for the party's presidential nomination, demanded that the White House turn over records of Trump's conversations with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
The impeachment proceedings were set off by a complaint to authorities from a whistle-blower, who had not listened to the July 25 conversation between Trump and Zelensky but said that he had heard about it from others.
The person's identity has been kept a secret, but according to media reports he is an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Another whistle-blower has emerged claiming that a Treasury Department official had interfered with the audit of the tax returns of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, according to The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
That person also based the complaint on what others had said, rather than from direct involvement.
Former Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, became the first person Congressional investigators called in to give a deposition.
After the closed-door meeting that lasted about nine hours, a Democratic Representative who was there, Eric Swalwell, told reporters that Volcker, who had resigned his position last week, gave evidence that Trump had withheld aid to Ukraine and asked for an investigation of the Bidens and issues involving the 2016 elections.
But two Republicans, Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes, said in a statement that Volker's testimony "undercut the salacious narrative" presented by Schiff.
Trump's request to China is based on Hunter Biden accompanying his father on an official trip to China in 2013 during which they met a Chinese financier, Jonathan Li.
Li was an investor in an investment fund, BHR Partnership, with which Hunter Biden was involved through Rosemont Seneca Partners, a fund started by him, Christopher Heinz, the stepson of former Secretary of State John Kerry, and others.
Hunter Biden has been on BHR's board from 2013.
Trump said: "When Biden's son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund, and the biggest funds in the world can't get money out of China, and he's there for one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two, I think that's a horrible thing."
It was not clear that Hunter Biden received an investment of $1.5 billion and his lawyer has denied he received any money.
Hunter Biden, who had a drug problem and was removed from the Navy Reserve because of cocaine use, has had a quick rise in the world of finance and is worth millions.
In Ukraine, he became a member of the board of Bursima Holdings, a gas company, which Trump wants investigated.
The Washington Post said that according to a spokesperson for Heinz, he considered Hunter Biden joining the Bursima board was a bad idea and broke off his business relationship with him.
As Vice President, Joe Biden had demanded that dismissal of Ukraine's Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others have alleged that this was done to prevent an investigation of Mykola Zlochevsky, a former minister and the owner of Bursima.
Former President Barack Obama's administration withheld a loan guarantee for $1 billion to pressure the government to fire him.
Joe Biden's supporters say that this was done because Shokin was not considered hard enough on crime, a view shared by the International Monetary Fund.