WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that President Biden still maintains he never discussed overseas business deals with his son Hunter — despite significant and growing evidence to the contrary.
“The president has said that he never spoke with his son about his overseas business dealings. Is that still the case?” Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Psaki at her daily press briefing.
“Yes,” Psaki replied, tersely affirming that Biden stands by the 2019 claim that he’d “never spoken” with his son about “his overseas business dealings.”
The answer concluded an extended dialogue between Psaki and Doocy focused on new reporting from the Washington Post and New York Times that belatedly verified emails from a laptop that formerly belonged to Hunter Biden, which The Post first reported in October 2020.
The first son recently paid a tax bill of more than $1 million in a bid to avoid prosecution, the Times reported last month. The back taxes applied to a financial windfall he reaped from countries where his father held sway as vice president.
“A lot of stories about Hunter Biden are surfacing this week. So to ensure the independence of the investigation, would the president support the appointment of a special counsel?” Doocy asked.
“Well first, the president has never had a conversation with the Department of Justice about any investigations into any member of his family,” Psaki said.
“He said that during the campaign and he will continue to abide by that. So I appointed the Department of Justice for any additional steps they would take. They would make those decisions independently.”
Doocy followed up, noting that White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said in a Sunday interview that President Biden believes Hunter Biden didn’t break the law.
“Well, that’s something the president has said and certainly we would echo,” Psaki replied. “But in the same answer to that question, Peter, during an interview this week on ABC, Ron Klain also said the Justice Department is independent and they will make their own decisions.”
The US attorney’s office in Delaware is probing Hunter Biden for possible tax fraud, money laundering and foreign lobbying crimes. US Attorney David Weiss is a Trump administration holdover who was allowed to continue in his role because of the probe.
The Washington Post reported last week that Hunter and his uncle Jim Biden received $4.8 million from CEFC China Energy. A May 13, 2017, email from Hunter Biden business associate James Gilliar said that the “big guy” would get a 10 percent equity stake in a corporate entity established with CEFC.
Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski alleges that he met with Joe Biden to discuss the CEFC venture on May 2, 2017, and that the president was the “big guy.”
Hunter Biden reportedly paid some of his father’s bills and the extent of his dad’s involvement in his overseas deals often is murky.
In an email first reported Tuesday by Fox News, Klain asked the then-second son in 2012 to help raise $20,000 for a charity to maintain the official vice presidential residence.
Biden has more than one entanglement with his son’s Chinese ventures.
Hunter Biden cofounded an investment firm called BHR Partners just 12 days after he joined then-Vice President Biden aboard Air Force Two for a 2013 trip to Beijing. The firm is controlled by Chinese state-owned entities and facilitated the 2016 sale for $3.8 billion of a Congolese cobalt from a US company to the firm China Molybdenum. Cobalt is a key component in electric car batteries.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said in November — less than a week after President Biden’s 3 1/2 hour virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping — that his client had finally divested his 10 percent stake in BHR Partners, but offered no further details. The White House declined to share any details on the alleged transactions and referred reporters to Clark, who did not respond to inquiries.
Joe Biden’s role as vice president also intertwined with his son’s business relationships in Kazakhstan, Mexico and Ukraine.
In Ukraine, Hunter Biden was paid a reported $1 million per year to serve on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma, founded by corrupt pro-Russia oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, while his vice president dad led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
House Democrats impeached former President Donald Trump in 2019 for pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Trump was acquitted by the Senate after a trial in which Trump defense attorney Pam Bondi argued that White House visitor logs appeared to link Biden to his son’s employment because he met with Hunter’s business partner Devon Archer at about the same time as the second son joined Burisma.
Biden’s claim that he’d “never spoken” with his son about his foreign deals was directly contradicted when The Post reported in October 2020 that Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi emailed Hunter in 2015 to thank him for the opportunity to meet his father.
Photos and emails subsequently reported by The Post indicate Joe Biden attended a 2015 dinner at DC’s Cafe Milano with a group of his son’s associates — including Pozharskyi, a trio of Kazakhs and Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina and her husband, ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. Baturina is Russia’s richest woman and a 2020 report from Republican-led Senate committees alleges that in 2014 she paid $3.5 million to a firm associated with Hunter Biden.
In 2015, Joe Biden hosted a group of his son’s Mexican business associates at the vice president’s official residence — posing for a photo with Hunter and a group that included Mexican billionaires Carlos Slim and Miguel Alemán Velasco.
In 2016, emails indicate that Hunter Biden messaged Velasco’s son from Air Force Two, which was en route to Mexico for an official visit, to complain that he hadn’t received reciprocal business favors after “I have brought every single person you have ever asked me to bring to the F’ing White House and the Vice President’s house and the inauguration.”
When his dad moved to the White House, the 52-year-old first son began a new career as an artist — seeking as much as $500,000 for his novice works. The White House arranged for those sales to be anonymous, purportedly to prevent possible influence-peddling, despite the concern of ethics experts that non-transparency actually increases the potential for corruption.
In October, Hunter Biden earned $375,000 from the unknown buyers of five prints of his art ahead of a Hollywood show. It’s unclear if he made additional sales.