Economy 02-03-2024 01:02 6 Views

Hunter Biden’s point-by-point rebuttal of allegations against his father

It has been abundantly clear for months that the House Republican case suggesting that President Biden was corruptly involved in his son Hunter’s business engagements was a function of frenzied cherry-picking. When Hunter Biden came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to answer questions from legislators and investigators working on the impeachment inquiry targeting his father, he was presented with a number of those assertions.

In each case, he offered credible responses. You can read them below, in his own words.

What emerges when reading the transcript of the interview is how dependent the Republican effort is on three tactics. You’ll see those play out in the rebuttals Hunter Biden offered, but it’s useful to articulate them specifically.

First and most obvious is that cherry-picking. Republicans have gained access to countless financial and personal documents involving the Bidens and business associates of Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s brother. Sifting through that material like amateur internet sleuths, they’ve picked out a dozen or so things that might be framed as suspicious. This is how all investigations work, of course, with a few clues scattered among a lot of distractions. But when the allegations include such things as Joe Biden showing up at a dinner involving his son and a business partner, the frequency of his joining his son for dinner matters.

This is the second point: Republicans are trying to weaponize the schmoozing that politicians do. The allegations of Joe Biden meeting Hunter Biden’s partners centers on things like shaking hands at a reception or Hunter Biden’s associates being invited to White House events.

Third, the allegations center on two key conflations. The first and better known is using “the Biden family” as a proxy for “Hunter and James Biden.” Claiming that Hunter Biden’s income was going to “the Biden family” is a way to loop in the president unfairly. The same thing happens with “payments.” At times, the money involved in Hunter Biden’s transactions are for investments, not for his own benefit.

Those tactics in mind, here are the allegations that Republicans have made (in bold and with examples) and distillations of Hunter Biden’s rebuttals, including direct quotes from the transcript.

Hunter Biden flew with his father on Air Force Two to have him help close a deal in China. Biden had coffee with that partner, Jonathan Li. (example)

Hunter Biden said he traveled with his father many times. Reading an excerpt from his book, he said he did so to allow his daughter to spend time with her grandfather. In China, he met a friend with whom he’d later go into business. The friend shook hands with Joe Biden in a reception line.

The claim about coffee came from Devon Archer, who wasn’t there; Hunter Biden and Li went for coffee after the reception line.

“My father shaking Jonathan Li’s hand in a rope line in a hotel had nothing to do with my relationship with him. I had an over 10-year relationship with Jonathan Li. He was a friend, and he was also a very astute businessperson. He was educated in London, and we have become, not just friends, but I trusted him to be a very capable businessperson.”
“My father had absolutely no knowledge of, no involvement in, had no awareness of my business relationship with Jonathan Li.”

Joe Biden wrote a letter of recommendation for Li’s son. (example)

He did.

“Jonathan, as I said before, was a very close friend, became a close friend of mine. … There was a rule in my family, my dad was often asked to write recommendations for hundreds of people that — I’m sure over the course of the last 50 years. But the rule was is that, if you were going to ask, that they had to be close friends; you had to know them well. And I knew both Jonathan, and I knew his son, who was applying to universities here in the United States.”

Hunter Biden repeatedly put his father on speakerphone during business meetings. (example)

Because of the tragedies in the Biden family, both Hunter and Joe Biden would take calls from family members whenever they were received. Sometimes, that was during meetings. Joe Biden did not contribute to any discussion about business partnerships.

“In our family, when you have a call from — I call him or he calls me or I call one of my — his grandkids or one of my children, you always pick up the phone. It’s something that we always do.”
“Devon, I think, what did he testify? That over the course of our 10-year relationship I was — maybe 10 or 20 times that he can remember. He can’t recall the specific times that I put my dad on speakerphone when I was at a dinner or at a social event, so that means, over the course of 10 years, twice a year, my dad would call me, and I would be in the middle of a dinner, and I always answer his call. I always answer his call, based upon my life’s experience. And you’re telling me, so two times a year over the course of a 10 years, maybe more, or 15 years with Devon Archer, yes, that probably did happen.”
“I’m surprised my dad hasn’t called me right now, and if he did, I would put him on speakerphone to say hi to you and to Congressman Raskin and everybody else in the room.”

Hunter Biden introduced his father to business partners during dinner meetings in Washington. (example)

The restaurant where these two meetings were held is called Cafe Milano and sits roughly between the White House and the vice-presidential residence. His father would at times join him if he was eating dinner there. The meetings in question were centered on- Hunter Biden’s work for the World Food Program and a birthday celebration.

“I’ve had dozens of dinners at Cafe Milano for dozens — for many, many different reasons, whether it was just to be with family or whether it was to be with friends or whether it was to be with friends and associates or whether it was to do, for instance, a dinner that was a presentation for the U.S./U.N. World Food Program. And, in one of the occasions that you’re speaking about, the entire purpose of the dinner was to present, and there was a big screen at the end of the room. I got up and made a presentation.”
“I think another dinner you’re talking about was actually on my actual birthday, and my dad stopped by because it was my actual birthday.”
“If my mom wasn’t there or if my mom was home in Delaware, he would, you know, stop and have a bowl of spaghetti with me or whoever I was sitting with.”

One of the people at one of those dinners, Yelena Baturina, later paid Hunter Biden millions of dollars. Another attendee bought him a car. (example)

Baturina did attend a dinner, but did not give Hunter Biden any money. That investment was with Archer and went to the purchase of buildings in New York, as Archer testified.

The car, Hunter Biden said, was bought by Archer, who was working with a Kazakh businessman named Kenes Rakishev.

“I had nothing to do with Rosemont-whatever entity, the realty or whatever it is. That was Devon’s. I never received a dime from Ms. Baturina. I didn’t have any involvement with her in any way.”
“Kenes Rakishev was a guest at the dinner that I had for the presentation about the World Food Program. My dad stopped by. I never did anything on behalf of Kenes Rakishev or asked anyone to do anything on behalf of Kenes Rakishev.”

A $40,000 check to Joe Biden was money that had come from a deal involving a Chinese company. (example)

Hunter Biden and his uncle were partners in a venture that saw Hunter pay James Biden for his work. James Biden later paid back a loan that Joe Biden had extended him. (The Washington Post has seen documentation of the original loan.)

“This is the most ridiculous thing that — I mean, so far. Are you saying to me, do I understand the fungibility of dollars?”
“You’re saying that, because I paid my uncle from a Delaware corporation that was fully transparent as to the purpose of that corporation, that had a business partner that happened to be from China, and then that money moved over into my Owasco PC account, which didn’t just have that money but had other money in it, you’re acting as if there’s, like, a dollar here that somehow was traced all the way down to here to repay a loan that you guys say that my father made to him.”

Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma came despite his lack of experience. (example)

The value to Burisma came from Hunter Biden’s experience as a lawyer working on corporate governance issues. He’d been encouraged to join the board by the president of Poland, who viewed Burisma as an important bulwark against Russia in the wake of the seizing of Crimea in 2014.

“They became a client of mine initially at Boies Schiller Flexner. And in that time I asked them, because I wanted to do a background and security check on them to make certain that they are who they say they were.”
“I would like you to understand what a board is. If you look at any board, most boards do not pick board members that are necessarily members of the particular industry in which they are in. What they do is they pull from different areas in which there is a need. They didn’t need anyone to tell them about how to drill natural gas. What they needed someone to do is to be able to help them with oversight and accountability and to do corporate governance.”

Hunter Biden called his father to get him to relieve investigatory pressure on Burisma. (example)

Every part of this is disputed. Hunter Biden says he didn’t call his father; Archer suggested he did before admitting he wasn’t privy to such a call. There was no known investigation into Burisma that needed to be addressed; in fact, Burisma viewed Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor general, as an asset. Joe Biden and others in the international community were already calling for the ouster of Shokin. Joe Biden was already planning to travel to Ukraine at the time of the purported call.

In his response, Hunter Biden invoked the name of Alexander Smirnov, charged last month by the Justice Department with having invented a story about the Bidens being bribed.

“There is not a single person other than Alexander Smirnov who says that Shokin, that Shokin was fired because I was on the board of Burisma. It’s literally the exact opposite, and that has been a fact now since it was first claimed.”
“The one thing also to make absolutely clear is I never spoke to my dad about it. Never had any discussions with him about it, because the only honest — the only thing that would be of value here would be for Viktor Shokin to stay in place, not the opposite.”

An email suggesting that money be held for the “big guy” indicates that Joe Biden had a financial stake in a deal. (example)

The email was written by a third party who was speculating that maybe Joe Biden could get involved. Hunter Biden said that he didn’t remember seeing the email but that he would have rejected the idea out of hand if he had. The consummated deal did not include Joe Biden.

This was bolstered by text exchanges between that man and Tony Bobulinski, who was very briefly an associate of Hunter Biden’s. One message suggested they “get the company set up” and then “tell H and family the high stakes and get Joe involved.”

“James [Gilliar] is probably, like, wow, wouldn’t be great if a former vice president could be in our business together? ”
“If I had seen it, I’m certain that what I would have done is I would have picked up the phone and said, ‘You’re out of your mind.’ ”
“I told Tony literally weeks after I met him that he was out of his mind, that he was going around, trying to promote the idea that my dad was somehow going to be involved in this. And that’s why I never did business with Tony.”

A message from Hunter Biden referring to “my chairman” was a reference to his father. (example)

Hunter Biden and his business partners were each working with one of two Chinese business executives, each of whom was referred to as chairman. This is a reference to the chairman with whom Hunter was working.

“Tony and James were talking to Zhang. I was talking to Ye, which is one of the conflicting things between us to begin with. That’s the chairman I’m referring to.”
“Now, you have my answer under oath that I did not refer and never have referred to my father as ‘chairman’.”

In one message, Hunter Biden tried to pressure a business partner by noting that his father was sitting next to him. (example)

Biden testified that, if legitimate, the message was apparently sent when he was intoxicated, since he sent it to the wrong person. He insisted that his father was not with him when it was sent.

“I am more embarrassed of this text message, if it actually did come from me, than any text message I’ve ever sent. The fact of the matter is, is that there’s no other text message that you have in which I say anything remotely to this. And I was out of my mind. I can also tell you this: My father was not sitting next to me. My father had no awareness. My father had no awareness of the business that I was doing. My father never benefited from any of the business that I was doing.”

Hunter Biden sought out a shared space for him and his father to do business. (example)

Biden says that this occurred during the worst period of his addiction and that he hoped to demonstrate that the family could go back to normal. There ultimately was no shared space.

“My lease was up for renewal, and they were not going to renew my lease. And I said to them, ‘Look, I’m not going to be the sole person that’s in this. I want it for the Biden Foundation, and this could be an office space. It was a beautiful office space. It can be for my mom and my dad.’ ”

There were other issues presented to Hunter Biden, but those didn’t centrally allege wrongdoing by his father. This was the intent of the hearing after all — and as Biden and his attorney had to remind Republicans at times — not to tear down Hunter Biden but to show how Joe Biden allegedly benefited from these business deals.

Now more than ever, there’s no evidence he did.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post
Other news