Image of Trump's face and coin with the flag of China

Media Matters / Andrea Austria

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New evidence shows China spent millions on Trump’s properties while he was in office, after years of right-wing media failing to prove that Biden was “compromised” by Chinese money

House Democrats produced evidence last week showing that the Chinese government and state-controlled entities spent over $5.5 million at Trump properties while he was in office. Former President Donald Trump did not divest himself from his businesses, breaking from precedent, and instead put his adult sons in charge. This development comes amid continuous efforts by the right to incriminate President Joe Biden and his family for alleged foreign influence, despite a clear lack of evidence.

  • As Republicans continue their baseless bid to impeach Biden over alleged foreign influence, Democrats report on foreign spending at Trump’s businesses

    • Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released a report last week offering “concrete evidence that the former president engaged in the kind of conduct that House Republicans have labored, so far unsuccessfully, to prove that President Biden did as they work to build an impeachment case against him.” The report includes documents obtained from Trump’s former accounting firm that revealed his businesses received $7.8 million from foreign governments, $5.5 million of which came from China. [The New York Times, 1/4/24]
    • Forbes reported in April that the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had rented space in Trump Tower while he was in office and left soon after Trump’s term ended. Forbes estimated ICBC to have spent approximately $7 million in rent during Trump’s presidency. (The House Oversight Committee placed this figure at a more conservative $5.4 million.) During this time, “Trump chose not to impose sanctions on ICBC, a Chinese bank that the Justice Department alleged was helping North Korea avoid sanctions.” [Forbes, 4/10/23, 1/4/24; U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Accountability, 1/4/24]
    • For years, the right has insisted that Biden is “compromised” by foreign payments to his son’s businesses, using flawed and convoluted logic to draw unsupported conclusions. Republicans “have not presented any clear evidence of impeachable offenses by President Biden” in their impeachment inquiry. [Media Matters, 1/4/24; NPR, 12/13/23]
  • The right has long criticized members of the Biden family for their business dealings in China and has accused Joe Biden of taking bribes

    • Fox News contributor and former congressman Jason Chaffetz claimed on Fox & Friends Weekend that “more money is flowing into the Bidens' bank accounts from China than all the other countries. We have to know why and where is the president compromised.” Host Rachel Campos-Duffy responded, “Absolutely.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 10/22/23]
    • Fox News contributor Joe Concha stated, “You now have a president that could be compromised by the likes of China, Ukraine, Romania, you could go down the list in terms of where he is compromised, but obviously, most important … is China. And if that’s the case, then this makes Watergate look like a smash-and-grab.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 8/7/23]
    • Fox host Laura Ingraham suggested on her Fox News show that Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China are causing Joe Biden to allow Chinese nationals to cross the southern border illegally. Author Gordon Chang, Ingraham’s guest, also claimed that Biden is “allowing thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of saboteurs into the United States.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 12/5/23]
    • The Daily Mail’s Josh Boswell told Fox News host John Roberts that “there is a lot of evidence that points towards” the “potential conclusion” that “Joe Biden was receiving money from some of these allegedly corrupt business deals that his son was doing.” He later added, “The more we dig into this, the more we see links to Joe Biden, and I think, you know, through what’s happening in Congress now and through the potential impeachment proceedings, I think we may find that evidence. [Fox News, America Reports, 12/20/23]
    • Fox contributor and National Review Institute senior fellow Andy McCarthy claimed on America’s Newsroom that CEFC, a Chinese energy conglomerate with which Hunter Biden had business, “started to trade on the Biden name while Joe Biden was vice president.” He continued, “Right after he got out of office in around March of 2017, there was a $3 million payment, $1 million of which went to the Bidens. Then they discussed this deal that was going to involve the Biden family — not just Hunter but Jim Biden and Joe Biden as well.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 12/18/23]
    • Jesse Watters asked his co-hosts on The Five, “What about if you fly your son to China, he meets all your clients, you come back with the bag of cash, and then your dad does favors for China. And then after you leave the vice presidency, you were supposed to share an office with the Chinese guy named Dong. What is that?” He added, “How about when Joe's sister cuts him a check for 40 grand from the Chinese and then the day before, takes out 50 grand in cash. What is his sister-in-law doing taking 50 grand in cash? It wasn't even Christmas tip time.” [Fox News, The Five, 12/14/23]
    • Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum claimed that banks are “watching this money come in from China. They're seeing where it's going. It's getting distributed to these shell companies.” Contributor Ari Fleischer claimed that Joe Biden “denied that he did business with China, and of course now we have bank statements showing he made millions from China. So why lie? Why would Joe Biden lie, why would Hunter Biden lie unless there's something there?” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 12/13/23]
    • Watters claimed on his primetime show, “OK, so the media has gone from the laptop’s fake, to the Bidens never took money from China, to the Bidens never took money while Joe was vice president, to yes, the whole Biden family took foreign bribes while Joe was VP, but none of the cash hit Joe Biden's checking account.” He continued, “As long as the politician doesn't physically take the bribe, it's kosher. That's it. And that's why Biden is the chairman. Remember? The Big Guy? That's the whole point. It doesn't have to hit his bank account. His entire family gets bribed because of him.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 5/10/23]
    • Last January, Watters claimed on The Five, “So China can launder millions of dollars through UPenn to pay Joe? Joe was bringing in a $1 million-a-year salary. That came from the Chinese. That came directly from the Chinese.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/11/23]
    • On his radio show, Mark Levin told his listeners, “I encourage you folks to continue to dig into the Biden crime family, the mobsters, and how they sold Joe Biden's public office for $30 million to our enemies." He then claimed that Hunter Biden told the “communist Chinese … ‘Hey, look. I'm a druggie. I'm sick. I'm hooked on pornography. Now give me $2 million right away.’ Now everybody knows where he got that money.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 12/13/23]
    • Levin also claimed on his show, “It is indisputable. It is unequivocal. That the Biden family made tens of millions of dollars from foreign entities, including many of our worst enemies.” He then stated, “Joe Biden claims he didn't know anything about any of it, America. … He didn't know that when he was asked to speak, scores and scores of times to foreign CEOs, foreign governments, front groups for the communist Chinese and others, that he was even speaking to them or that there was any implication whatsoever.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 9/29/23]
    • Right-wing podcast host Benny Johnson editorialized while reading a Daily Mail headline on his show, “‘Bank investigator flagged unusual and erratic activity in Hunter Biden's financial transactions from China that Republicans say funded a $40,000 loan repayment’ — bribe, 10% for the big guy — ‘to Joe’ Biden, directly.” He later stated, “You're now looking at the direct and clear evidence of what banks and banking institutions say is money laundering — the Chinese government paying off the kids of politicians.” [The Benny Show, 11/30/23]
    • BlazeTV host Glenn Beck told fellow right-wing radio personality Stu Burguiere, “Joe Biden received $40,000 from Chinese Communists. … Well, here's your smoking gun, media. Let’s see if any of them report on this. He got $40,000 from the Chinese communists. It was funneled through his son, his brother, their businesses.” Burguiere later said to Beck, “There are many times those suspicions are wrong and they're overblown. But like, this one actually happened. This money was going through Hunter Biden and was getting to Joe Biden. This was a real thing. This isn't a fever dream of the right who wants to take him out because he's president of the United States.” [BlazeTV, The Glenn Beck Program, 11/2/23]
  • Right-wing media have also claimed that the media and the justice system would never let Trump get away with accusations of foreign influence

    • On his radio show, Fox host Sean Hannity claimed that the supposed “fact that [the Bidens] are being protected” by the media and the Department of Justice proves that “we don't have equal justice and application of our laws, and we have a dual justice system in America.” [Premiere Radio Network, The Sean Hannity Show, 5/4/23]
    • Later on his radio show, Hannity said that “the media is not telling you the truth” about the Biden family’s supposed corruption and that he couldn’t imagine “the left in this country not going insane” over similar allegations made against Trump. Hannity mused, “I cannot, for the life of me, you know, imagine what the media and how the country and the left in this country would be reacting if Donald Trump and the Trump Organization or the Trump family were making tens of millions of dollars from our top geopolitical foes like China and Russia.” [Premiere Radio Network, The Sean Hannity Show, 12/11/23]
    • Laura Ingraham claimed that media outlets “simply refused to cover the Hunter Biden China enrichment scheme” despite them going “nuts” over Melania Trump’s plagiarized 2016 Republican National Convention speech. Ingraham added, “Do you think Bob Costa or Jake Tapper would have looked the other way if Trump family members — and they had a laptop that just turned up at a store, had all this interesting information on it?” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/5/21]
    • After discussing the supposed evidence of Joe Biden’s corruption in a later edition of her show, Ingraham stated, “We all know what would be happening if these facts involved a Republican president and his son.” She went on to claim that there would be “breathless wall-to-wall media coverage, calls for impeachment, talk of treason, and demands for jail time. MSNBC and CNN — they’d have special graphics packages all ready for the occasion.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 6/22/23]
    • Hannity claimed that the Justice Department “can't even be bothered to investigate Hunter's drug and prostitution crimes,” while engaging in “political targeting” against Trump. While claiming that Hunter and Joe Biden’s supposed corruption had not been investigated, Hannity scoffed that “if you’re Eric Trump, if your name’s Donald Trump Jr., and a judge in New York with no real estate experience thinks your property in Florida that he’s never been to is overvalued, well, you better buckle up.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/2/23]
    • Appearing on The Faulkner Focus, Fox News political analyst Gianno Caldwell claimed that if a Republican was facing the same accusations as Biden, “Democrats would already be willing to impeach, right now, no inquiry.” He also speculated that the increased calls from Democrats for Biden to not run in 2024 were “the very polite way to push him out of the picture” without having to investigate Hunter Biden’s dealings. [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 9/13/23
    • Watters claimed that, in calling Trump corrupt, Biden had “[accused] the other guy” of what he’s supposedly guilty of himself, and that “the press runs with it.” Watters also accused Biden and the media of intentionally directing attention away from the Bidens, stating, “This has always been about ‘look the other way, don’t look here, look at that guy.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/15/23]
    • Appearing on America’s Newsroom, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingerich claimed that there was a “very weird parallelism of: anything that Donald Trump does is terrible, anything that Hunter Biden does is excusable.” He also alleged that the Justice Department was ignoring Hunter Biden’s dealings because “the Obama Justice Department and the people who are still there who are Obama people were never going to go after Hunter. Ever.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 8/3/23]