President Biden claimed in a rare one-on-one interview that he hasn’t “observed” a “single thing” about his son Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals that create conflicts of interest for him — despite a variety of examples cited by Republicans as they prepare to launch investigations.
Biden gave a concise one-sentence brush-off when asked by CBS “60 Minutes” anchor Scott Pelley about GOP inquiries into “conflicts for you or for the United States” in places such as in China, Russia and Ukraine.
“There’s not a single thing that I’ve observed at all that would affect me or the United States relative to my son Hunter,” the president said.
Biden also said, “I love my son, number one. He fought an addiction problem, he overcame it, he wrote about it.”
But Republicans have cited many apparent conflicts of interest as they prepare for probes with subpoena power next year if they retake the House or Senate.
“This false statement further highlights urgent need for special counsel,” tweeted Tom Fitton, president of the conservative transparency group Judicial Watch.
Columnist Derek Hunter tweeted, “This is embarrassing for both @ScottPelley and @60Minutes. No question about Joe’s numerous meetings with Hunter’s business partners after repeatedly saying he’d never once met them? Nothing? Not one, Scott?”
Congressional Republicans have highlighted many apparent conflicts of interest for the president.
For example, Biden this year sanctioned a broad swath of Russia’s business elite in an effort to end the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine — but left off the list billionaire Yelena Baturina.
While vice president, Joe Biden attended a 2015 DC dinner whose guest list included Baturina and her husband, former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, according to records from a Hunter Biden laptop. Baturina paid $3.5 million in 2014 to a Hunter Biden-linked firm, according to a 2020 report from GOP-led Senate committees.
At the same 2015 dinner, Joe Biden met with an executive from the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which paid Hunter Biden up to $1 million per year to serve on its board despite no relevant industry experience, according to laptop records. The then-VP led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy at the time.
It’s unclear why Biden has not sanctioned Baturina. The president heard but didn’t respond to a question shouted in June about the matter and the top Republican on the House oversight committee, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), in April demanded an explanation from the Treasury Department.
Hunter Biden’s work in China also presents potential conflicts of interest for Joe Biden as he dictates US policy toward the authoritarian nation, whose state-owned enterprises partnered with the first son as well as first brother James Biden.
Hunter Biden cofounded the investment firm BHR Partners in 2013 about two weeks after flying with his father to Beijing aboard Air Force Two for an official trip. Hunter introduced Joe Biden to BHR CEO Jonathan Li in the lobby of a hotel in China’s capital and Joe Biden later wrote college recommendation letters for Li’s son and daughter.
Hunter’s 10% stake in BHR, which is controlled in part by Chinese state-owned entities, has continued to attract attention as his father interacts with Chinese President Xi Jinping and often takes a softer stance toward China than his predecessor Donald Trump and even other Democrats, such as in July when he publicly discouraged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from visiting Taiwan.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark claimed less than a week after President Biden’s November 2021 virtual summit with Xi that Hunter divested his 10% stake in BHR, which facilitated the 2016 sale for $3.8 billion of a Congolese cobalt mine — essential for making electric car batteries — from a US company to a Chinese one. But Hunter Biden and the White House provided no further details and online records indicate that Hunter Biden still owns the stake.
In a different Chinese deal, energy company CEFC paid first son Hunter Biden and first brother Jim Biden $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018, according to the Washington Post.
Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski alleged one month before the 2020 election that Joe Biden was directly involved with the CEFC deal before launching his presidential campaign.
Bobulinski said that he spoke with the future president in May 2017 about the project and that Joe Biden was the “big guy” described in an email the same month as due a 10% stake in the initiative. A different business associate, James Gilliar, also identified Joe Biden as the “big guy.”
Emails show that in September 2017, Hunter Biden asked for a new sign and more keys to an office he was renting in DC’s House of Sweden office building. The sign was to say, “The Biden Foundation and Hudson West (CEFC-US)” and the keys were for his father, Jill and Jim Biden, and a Chinese executive named Gongwen Dong. A spokeswoman for the agency that oversees the property said, however, that the sign was not changed and the keys weren’t picked up.
Republicans have blasted Biden for not taking a tougher stance toward China on a variety of issues, including on trade as Biden openly considers rolling back Trump-era tariffs and on Chinese exports of fentanyl, which drove a record 107,000 US drug overdose deaths last year. Biden also rarely mentions an interest in determining the origins of COVID-19, which killed more than 1 million Americans after possibly leaking from a Chinese lab.
On various other occasions Joe Biden appeared to be involved with his son’s business pursuits.
Photos and emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop further indicate that Joe Biden in 2015 hosted his son and a group of Mexican business associates at the vice president’s official residence. The elder Biden posed for a photo with Hunter and a group that included Mexican billionaires Carlos Slim and Miguel Alemán Velasco.
In 2016, Hunter Biden emailed one of his Mexican associates, apparently while aboard Air Force Two for an official visit to Mexico, complaining 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.”
Hunter Biden’s business partner Eric Schwerin visited the White House and vice president’s residence at least 19 times while Joe Biden was vice president, visitor logs show, casting further doubt on Joe Biden’s claims to have been unaware of his son’s business ventures.
At his 2020 impeachment trial for pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, Trump’s defense team cited visitor logs that showed Joe Biden met with his son’s partner Devon Archer on April 16, 2014, around the time both Hunter Biden and Archer joined the Burisma board.
Since his father became president, Hunter Biden launched an art career seeking as much as $500,000 for his novice works.
The White House developed a plan for those sales to be “anonymous” to prevent possible influence-peddling, but ethics experts say that the arrangement actually creates greater corruption concerns. Hunter received at least $375,000 last year for five prints at a Hollywood art show attended by one of his father’s ambassador nominees, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. It’s unclear how many additional sales he may have made.
The first son is under federal investigation for potential crimes linked to his overseas influence-peddling, including tax fraud, money laundering and unregistered foreign lobbying. He recently paid the IRS about $2 million in back taxes in an effort to avoid prosecution.