In mid-December, Hunter Biden — the president’s troubled son, ignored a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee to appear for a closed-door deposition. Instead, Hunter held a news conference to denounce the House bitterly for insisting he seems to answer questions about his questionable overseas business dealings.
Hunter Biden, as is his regular practice, asked for special treatment. He refused to appear at a closed-door deposition where staff and committee members could explore what he did for specific business interests and how he may have invoked or involved his father.
The questions would have likely focused on how he used his father’s name with potential or foreign clients. In one example, the president’s son emailed Raymond Zhao of CEFC China Energy in 2017 that he was “sitting there with my father and we would like to understand why” a commitment made to Hunter on profitable deals “has not been fulfilled.”
Hunter told his Chinese associates that he wanted to “resolve this now before it gets out of hand. And now means tonight.” If Hunter Biden didn’t receive his piece of the money, he would “make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to hold forever a grudge that you will regret not following my direction.”
Last week, the younger Biden didn’t want to go on record on dubious questions, including whether his father was actually present when the email was sent. If he wasn’t, was he aware of it? How often did the younger Biden invoke his father’s name?
To avoid the questions, Hunter demanded the committee immediately have a public hearing, or he would not comply with the subpoena. The son of the president knew this would not happen. Congressional investigations commonly start with witnesses being questioned in closed-door sessions.
But for Hunter Biden, holding a news conference was a convenient place to play the victim. He denounced GOP House members and said they would attempt to “impugn my character” and “dehumanize me — all to embarrass and damage my father.”
It sounds like the pot is calling the kettle black. Hunter impugned his character all on his own and damaged his father by participating in dealings with suspect foreign partners, deals he should have stayed far away from.
In 2014, Hunter and his business partner, Devon Archer, shouldn’t have gone on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. Neither he nor Archer had any natural gas business experience, corporate governance, or expertise in Ukraine.
They were placed on Burisma’s board because the company was under investigation for corruption. Hunter was the son of the at-the-time vice president of the United States, and Archer was a long-time associate of the American Secretary of State. What better way could Ukrainian authorities be discouraged from pursuing Burisma than to suggest the company had Washington influence?
If Hunter didn’t want to damage his father, he shouldn’t have responded when CEFC China Energy, a company closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party, tried to recruit him in 2015, when his father was still vice president. Eventually, China Energy paid Hunter $4.8 million in fees, some while his father was readying a run for the White House.
The president’s son’s ill-conceived international business ventures raise interesting questions. Was the Obama White House aware of Hunter’s position on the Burisma board? Did anyone talk to the vice president since he was in charge of the administration’s efforts to diminish Ukraine’s corruption?
Was the White House concerned when Hunter accompanied his father to China in 2013, where he met with his Chinese associates in a new private equity fund?
Hunter’s most recent stunt will not improve public impressions about him or his father. An Associated Press/National Opinion Research Center poll conducted on October 9, found that when asked “when it comes to the overseas business dealings of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter,” 35% of Americans believe President Biden “has done something illegal,” while 33% believe he “has done something unethical but not illegal,” while 30% said “he has not done anything wrong.”
However, Republicans must still be careful. Trying to impeach the president for his son’s actions when the elder Biden was vice president or not in office could strike many Americans as a stretch. The best path for the GOP investigations is to avoid wild accusations, suppositions, and conjecture. They must lay out the facts only — they are bad enough as it is.