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Sen. Ron Johnson

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks with members of the media before meeting with the Middleton Chamber of Commerce at Serendipity Labs in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Amber Arnold)

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on Thursday said he sees nothing wrong with President Donald Trump's public call for the Chinese government to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. 

The Oshkosh Republican's comments come as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry from Democrats over allegedly using the office of the presidency to pressure another foreign government — Ukraine — to investigate former Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter. 

"I don't think there's anything improper about it," Johnson said. "We have proper agreements with countries to investigate potential crimes. I don't know what may or may not have happened with China and the Bidens, but I think an awful lot of those investigations can actually occur here in America." 

Despite Trump's rhetoric, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Biden or his son in either China or Ukraine. 

House Democrats in September launched an impeachment inquiry focusing partly on whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government to undermine Democratic foe Joe Biden and help his own reelection.

Trump has sought to implicate Biden and his son in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration's diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.

On Thursday, Trump again seized on unsubstantiated claims promoted by political allies as he seeks a foreign government’s help finding dirt on Democratic political rival Joe Biden.

In remarks to reporters outside the White House Thursday, Trump called on China to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, though he said he has not yet appealed to China’s president to do so.

Trump told reporters that Hunter Biden earned $1.5 billion from a “sweetheart” business deal in China. But while Hunter Biden had business ties to Chinese companies, there’s no evidence the claim is true.

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In Middleton, Johnson said there are a number of unanswered questions regarding Hunter Biden's business dealings in China, and that the American public, Democratic primary voters and Trump have a right to know about it. 

"If there’s some scandal sitting outside there, whether it’s in Ukraine, between Vice President Biden’s son or in China, I would think they’d want to know that before they start casting their ballots in the Democratic primary," Johnson said. 

When asked, he said he doesn't trust the Chinese or Ukrainians more than U.S. investigative authorities, but that it's sometimes necessary for U.S. authorities to work with foreign governments to investigate potential crimes. 

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2016 letter

Johnson said he had no knowledge of a 2016 letter he signed onto pushing Ukraine to reform its prosecutor general's office and judiciary. The bipartisan letter, unearthed by national media on Thursday, appears to undermine claims made by Trump and Republicans that Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire then Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin to stop investigations into a Ukrainian natural gas company that his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of.

The 2016 letter, sent by members of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, was signed by Republican Sens. Rob Portman, Mark Kirk and Ron Johnson, as well as Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Murphy, Sherrod Brown, and Richard Blumenthal and focused on longstanding issues of corruption in Ukraine and urged reforms of the government.

Johnson told reporters he didn't know which 2016 letter reporters were referring to. 

"I don't engage in hypocrisy," Johnson said. "I'm looking at getting the truth, I'm trying to be supportive of eastern European countries." 

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