Director of White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro said Friday that he won’t “confirm or deny” whether he “personally” raised investigating Joe Biden or his son during contacts with Chinese officials.
“Me, personally? Now, here’s the thing, I will never talk about what happens inside the White House,” Navarro said during a contentious exchange with CNN’s Jim Sciutto, calling the interview an “interrogation.”
Navarro added, “Okay? Not confirm or deny. Because that’s the slippery slope.”
CNN first reported on Thursday that during a phone call with China’s Xi Jinping on June 18, President Donald Trump raised Biden’s political prospects as well as those of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to two people familiar with the discussion.
The White House record of that call was later stored in the highly secured electronic system used to house a now-infamous June 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president. That call helped spark a whistleblower complaint which led House Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
Asked earlier this week about Trump’s call with Xi, the White House did not deny that he raised the topic of Biden. In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet on Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed.
On Thursday, Trump singled out China to investigate the Bidens. “China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters during a news conference at the White House.
Navarro repeatedly bashed CNN’s reporting and use of “anonymous sources,” calling it “bad journalism” during his Friday interview. He called the Ukraine/China issue “witch-hunt Part 2.” Sciutto repeated that CNN stood by its reporting.
Navarro also touted the latest numbers on the economy, telling Sciutto: “We have 3.5% unemployment rate, impeach that.” In September, the unemployment rate fell to the lowest rate since December 1969, as employers added 136,000 jobs to the US economy – amid signs that the global economy is slowing.
CORRECTION: The headline and story have been updated to accurately reflect Navarro’s statement about whether he ever personally raised investigating Joe Biden or his son during contacts with Chinese officials.