Amid widespread criticism of his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin, former President Donald Trump publicly called on Putin on Tuesday to release any dirt he might have on Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
Trump, in an interview with Just the News, seized on an unsubstantiated claim about Biden’s obtaining a hefty payment from Elena Baturina, the former wife of the late former mayor of Moscow, and asked Putin to provide details.
“She gave him $3.5 million, so now I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it,” Trump said. “I think we should know that answer.”
Trump was referring to information from a partisan Senate report published just weeks before the 2020 election, which also focused on Biden’s role on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Hunter Biden’s legal team told NBC News in 2020 that Biden had “no interest” in that firm that received the money, so “the claim he was paid $3.5 million was false.”
In October 2020, Putin said he was unaware of any business ties between Biden and Baturina.
Trump reiterated his push for info on Biden in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "In time, Russia may be willing to give that information," he said.
The request of Putin, who has been widely condemned for launching an unprovoked and deadly invasion in Ukraine, was reminiscent of Trump’s asking the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign to find and release any emails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” said at a news conference in July 2016 even as he faced questions about whether he endorsed foreign meddling in U.S. elections.
Trump later pressured the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden and his father, President Joe Biden, who was then seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, leading to the former president's first impeachment.
Trump's remarks in Tuesday's interview come shortly after GOP lawmakers urged President Biden to more forcefully punish Putin for waging war on Ukraine, only to have Trump praise Putin.
“I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of Ukraine — Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful,” Trump told a conservative podcaster the week of Russia's invasion.
Trump recently shifted his tone by both blaming Biden and criticizing Putin for the war in Ukraine.
“Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, Joe Biden totally failed to deter Russia’s disgraceful invasion of Ukraine,” Trump said Saturday. “All of those people are dead. Putin’s heinous attack on a proud and sovereign nation shocks the conscience of every person of goodwill.”