President Donald Trump‘s adviser on China, Michael Pillsbury, said he received background information about Hunter Biden and his activities from China. When later asked to account for that statement, Pillsbury told a falsehood on national television that he never said it.
According to the Financial Times, Pillsbury told reporter Demetri Sevastopulo: “I got a quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese.” Pillsbury’s intelligence-gathering on the son of the president’s political rival occurred during the same week Trump said: “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.”
The 45th president was heavily criticized for his attempt to normalize foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election. The entreaty to the Chinese mirrors the same ask Trump made of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the infamous July 25 telephone call which has since led to the informal impeachment inquiry currently being pursued by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Pillsbury’s admission was followed up on by The Daily Beast in a story about the Trump China advisor’s Wednesday night appearance on the Fox Business Network. During an interview with Lou Dobbs, Pillsbury bragged about his efforts to dig up dirt on Joe Biden‘s son.
“I tried to bring up the topic in Beijing,” he said. “Just tell me what happened with Hunter Biden. I have never seen them get so secretive in my life. They would discuss ICBM warheads rather than talk about what Hunter Biden was doing in China with Vice President Biden. That is a big area now where the Chinese know they don’t want any American probe into what happened with Hunter Biden.”
That Daily Beast story was then referenced by C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” host Pedro Echevarria during a Thursday morning discussion about U.S.-China relations. Pillsbury is considered an expert on China and currently works for the Hudson Institute as the Senior Fellow and Director of the conservative think tank’s Center for Chinese Strategy.
Their brief discussion about that report follows [emphases ours]:
Echevarria: The story says reportedly–I’ll use the word “reportedly”–claims that you were given information there in a trip last week. Were you in China last week?
Pillsbury: I was in China right before the parade. October the 1st. I was there the previous couple of days. I did meet with some Chinese but I don’t think they gave–they did not give me any intelligence about Hunter Biden at all. I don’t know where the report came from.
Echevarria: I only say this because The Daily Beast, it says, it quotes the Financial Times as quoted as you saying: ‘I got a quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese,’ Pillsbury told the Financial Times.”
Pillsbury: I wonder what–I haven’t spoken to the Financial Times–for a month.
Echevarria: For a month. So, you’ve had a previous conversation with the Financial Times?
Pillsbury: I was interviewed by them at least a month ago about the trade talks. Not about Hunter Biden.
Echevarria: Hunter Biden didn’t come up?
Echevarria: So, just to clarify: no information from Hunter Biden–from the Chinese–concerning Hunter Biden?
Pillsbury: That’s right. They wouldn’t talk about Hunter Biden.
But that’s not what Pillsbury told the Financial Times via email the night before.
— Demetri Sevastopulo (@Dimi) October 10, 2019
Sevastopulo posted a screenshot of his conversation with Pillsbury after the highly-touted China expert denied ever having spoken with the Financial Times regarding the Biden-China issue.
“Mike – Is it accurate that you tried to raise the Hunter Biden issue with the Chinese?” the reporter asked.
“Actually I got a quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese,” Pillsbury wrote back.
Pillsbury walked back his C-SPAN denial later on.
“I have never had any conversation with President Trump about this at anytime,” Pillsbury told McClatchy. “The information the Chinese gave me is just from the newspaper stories — nothing new.” Note that he’s saying China did give him information on Hunter Biden, just not new information. [image via screengrab/C-SPAN]