Joe Biden downplays, dismisses reports on Hunter Biden's business dealings

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden keeps deflecting or downplaying reports about his son Hunter Biden’s high-flying business dealings and alleged influence-peddling — the type of questionable financial arrangements they have explained away since at least the 2008 presidential campaign.

An attorney for Hunter Biden also dismissed out of hand as “conspiracy theories” questions about his eyebrow-raising business deals.

The elder Mr. Biden has refused to address questions about a New York Post report on his son’s emails purportedly found on an abandoned laptop. Those emails suggests that the elder Mr. Biden, as vice president, met with a Ukrainian businessman with financial ties to his son — a possibility he’d repeatedly denied before.

“I have no response,” Mr. Biden said before turning his fire on the CBS News reporter who asked the question. “It’s another smear campaign. Right up your alley.”

A day earlier, Mr. Biden told donors that President Trump would employ “lies and distortion” against him, though he didn’t refer directly to the paper’s reporting.

“I know these are anxious times,” the former vice president said. “He’s going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at me.”

The Post reported last week on an email purporting to show that Hunter Biden introduced his father to Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the Ukrainian energy company where the younger Mr. Biden had held a lucrative gig on the board of directors, despite having no experience in the energy industry.

Mr. Biden has repeatedly claimed that he and Hunter never discussed his son’s business dealings.

Mr. Biden’s campaign now says that previous investigations, including Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial and a recent Senate Republican report, have concluded that the former vice president “carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing.”

“Trump Administration officials have attested to these facts under oath,” campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said. “Moreover, we have reviewed ’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.”

However, according to Politico, the campaign allowed that Mr. Biden and Mr. Pozharskyi might have had some “cursory” interaction that wouldn’t have shown up on his official schedule.

The New York Post also reported last week that Hunter Biden was pursuing a deal with a Chinese energy company that would have paid him $10 million annually “for introductions alone.”

In the story, an attorney for Hunter Biden criticized Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for Mr. Trump who has helped facilitate the recent reporting.

Mr. Giuliani has said he got Mr. Trump’s blessing to travel to Ukraine to try to dig up dirt on the Bidens and has teased that additional damaging information will come out before Nov. 3.

“He has been pushing widely discredited conspiracy theories about the Biden family, openly relying on actors tied to Russian intelligence. His record of dishonesty in these matters speaks for itself,” lawyer George Mesires told the Post.

The Washington Times has not independently verified the authenticity of the supposed emails.

Neither the elder Mr. Biden, the Biden campaign nor Hunter Biden have directly denied the authenticity of the emails or other content on the laptop.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama’s team denied that one of Hunter Biden’s other corporate gigs influenced his father’s push to pass a law tied to consumer bankruptcy protection — changes supported by the company for which Hunter consulted.

“He took plenty of knocks from the largest employer in his state because he demanded changes in the bankruptcy bill,” Obama campaign spokesman David Wade said of the elder Mr. Biden at the time.

“It’s the sort of thing that Republicans who were already going to support Trump are seizing on,” Mr. Olsen said at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute. “I think most people are partisans and are viewing these stories through their own lenses.”

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said Tuesday that GOP committee staffers have independently authenticated through “numerous conversations” the emails discovered on the laptop were sent to or from Hunter Biden.

“These emails are real, they’re authentic,” Mr. Jordan told reporters on a conference call organized by the president’s reelection campaign.

The laptop on which they were discovered found its way into the hands of both the FBI and Mr. Giuliani before the former Trump campaign hand Steve Bannon ultimately relayed its contents to the Post, according to the paper.

Twitter and Facebook ended up putting restrictions on the extent to which the Post reporting could be shared on their platforms, saying it ran afoul of misinformation rules.

The Biden used that fact — despite Twitter later saying it was concerned about personal information being released — to call the articles untrue.

“Twitter’s response to the actual article itself makes clear that these purported allegations are false and they’re not true,” Jamal Brown, a Biden campaign spokesman, said in a recent interview on Cheddar. “Glad to see social media companies like Twitter taking responsibility to limit misinformation.”

But Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Hunter Biden’s laptop issue is not part of a “Russian disinformation campaign” despite claims to the contrary from congressional Democrats and former U.S. intelligence officials.

Mr. Giuliani, who is reportedly under investigation himself for being part of an overseas operation to influence the 2020 election, has said that there wasn’t a hack — which is also the account the Post gives — and that even if there was it wouldn’t matter.

Regardless of how the story came to be, much of the mainstream press has appeared uninterested in asking the former vice president about specifics.

Mr. Biden is laying low this week ahead of Thursday’s debate with Mr. Trump.

Neither ABC’s George Stephanopoulos nor Pennsylvania voters asked Mr. Biden about the New York Post’s reporting at a 90-minute town hall on Thursday, the day after the first story broke.

Mr. Trump lampooned the kid-gloves treatment.

“He’s committed crimes and they ask him about a milkshake, what flavor ice cream do you like? I never had a question like that,” the president said Tuesday on “Fox and Friends,” referring to a question Mr. Biden got, and happily answered, over the weekend.

At a campaign stop Sunday in North Carolina, someone also started to ask Mr. Biden about the FBI, but the candidate walked away.

Mr. Trump suggested that he could raise the issue at the debate Thursday if the moderator, NBC’s Kristen Welker, does not.

“I do my own debating,” he said.

The president and his GOP allies also have questioned whether Mr. Biden, as vice president, tried to oust a prosecutor because he was looking into corruption involving the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, where Hunter Biden landed a lucrative gig on the board of directors.

Mr. Biden bragged afterward about threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees unless the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was fired — a move that had broad, bipartisan support from U.S. lawmakers and other countries.

The Democrat-led House voted to impeach Mr. Trump in December for allegedly pressuring Ukraine to try to dig up dirt on the Bidens. The GOP-led Senate voted to acquit Mr. Trump earlier this year.

Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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