What Hunter Biden's troubles could mean for the president's 2024 reelection campaign
Addiction haunted Hunter Biden for much of his life. His brother Beau helped him stay sober during recovery.
“Then his brother dies … he has a relapse. And that alcoholism problem quickly morphs into a serious drug addiction. He becomes addicted to crack cocaine,” reporter Adam Entous says.
“I like to think of Hunter as almost like a guy in a toboggan going down a hill.”
His decisions in those following years have become the subject of a Justice Department investigation and GOP-led Congressional inquiries.
Troubles over taxes, lying to get a handgun and his involvement in a Ukrainian holding company.
Today, On Point: Understanding Hunter Biden, beyond the headlines.
Adam Entous, investigative reporter at the New York Times. Co-author of a piece titled “Hunter Biden’s Tangled Tale Comes Front and Center.”
The New Yorker: “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father” — “In today’s political culture, people running for President may announce their candidacy on the steps of their home-town city hall or on ‘The View,’ but the full introduction comes with their book.”
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI: The U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware has been investigating Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, since 2018. The question at the beginning of the investigation five years ago was about potential violations of tax, foreign lobbying and money laundering laws.
Hunter Biden began working for foreign interests, particularly involving Ukraine, China and Kazakhstan during his father’s vice presidency in the Obama administration. While he had registered as a domestic lobbyist, Hunter Biden failed to disclose his foreign relationships to the Justice Department, as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act. However, prosecutors struggled to prove that Hunter Biden intentionally violated the law.
But the investigation has since narrowed. The Washington Post first reported last October that federal agents may have gathered what they believe is sufficient evidence to charge Hunter Biden. The potential charges involve three tax crimes and a false statement related to a gun purchase. Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who’s been supervising the case, has yet to indict Hunter Hunter Biden. But new reporting suggests that prosecutors are nearing a charging decision.
Meanwhile, since January of this year, House Republicans began their own investigations into President Joe Biden and his family. While it resurfaced some of Hunter Biden’s business deals, the interim GOP report released this month found no evidence of wrongdoing tied to the president. But it did allege that members of the Biden family, including Hunter Biden, received millions of dollars in payments from foreign entities in China and Romania.
Today, we want to further examine the details behind the headlines surrounding the president’s son. What are the facts behind the narrative and how could they impact, if at all, the president himself as he prepares for reelection in 2024?
Adam Entous joins us. He’s an investigative reporter for The New York Times. He’s followed the Hunter Biden story for many years, including a 2019 profile titled “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize his Father’s Campaign?” that appeared in The New Yorker magazine. More recently, this year, he co-wrote a piece for The New York Times on the federal investigations into Hunter Biden. And Adam joins us from Washington. Welcome to On Point, Adam.
ENTOUS: It’s great to be here.
CHAKRABARTI: So, first of all, I’d like to unfold in as much detail as possible what’s going on with the current U.S. attorney’s investigation. Can you tell us what they’re looking at regarding, first of all, the potential tax violations?
ENTOUS: Like you said in your introduction, at the very beginning of this investigation, there was thought that maybe he violated lobbying rules and money laundering. You had all these very strong-sounding charges that were being discussed. And just to clarify, I’m not aware of him ever registering as a lobbyist. I think he avoided doing so by limiting his role with these companies so he didn’t have to register as a lobbyist.
What happens is the Justice Department looks at these instances. For example, he’s on the board of a company called Burisma in Ukraine, an energy company there. He takes an equity stake after his father is vice president in a company called BHR in China. He tries to do a deal and begins to do a deal with a Chinese energy company run by this tycoon from China. And so they look at these things and they’re looking to see was there money laundering? Was he lobbying? They don’t find that.
They find interactions, some interactions between his father and some of his business associates. They have occasional meetings at dinners, but no substantive engagement. And what they come down to in the end, the investigation, is really much narrower issues, very banal issues, such as his failure to file in a timely basis two of his tax returns. Did he take business expenses of approximately $30,000? Were those business expenses or personal expenses? Those sort of questions.
Then at the height of his addictions, he buys a handgun and he has to fill in a form to get the gun. And on that form, it asks him if he is using drugs. It’s a very frankly, poorly written form. The wording is very much suggesting like, “Are you currently using drugs?” My understanding is, from talking to him and those around him, he had recently come out of rehab and sort of was in and out of addiction. Maybe he thought he wasn’t using actively when he fills out the form, maybe he was lying on the form. It’s unclear. But that’s a very sort of novel case. Usually they bring charges related to that form to try to basically flip a witness against somebody else. It would be an unusual case to bring and we’re going to see what what Weiss decides to do. And we don’t know how soon he’s going to make these decisions.
CHAKRABARTI: Right. And I’m understanding that Biden’s lawyers are saying that usually for that potential gun violation, the charges are dealt with civil actions instead of criminal charges. We’re going to get to the the sort of the background on Hunter Biden and how that plays into where he and the president find themselves right now. But just to stick with this most urgent moment: He could get charged, right? I mean, we don’t yet know if Weiss is going to bring or not bring charges. And again, for, as you said, two years of failing to meet tax return filing deadlines in 2016 and 2017, and lying on the form when he wanted to purchase a handgun in 2018.
I understand that Hunter Biden recently met with his attorneys, I mean, at the Justice Department, or in the Justice Department in anticipation of possibly being charged? Is this truly an urgent situation for him?
ENTOUS: I don’t believe Hunter accompanied his lawyers to that meeting. This was sort of — what happens at various points is the attorneys for Hunter Biden want to get a chance to talk to the prosecutors to make a presentation about why they think they should not proceed with these various charges. And I think this most recent meeting that took place at the Justice Department was mainly an opportunity for his lawyers to try to argue for why the gun charge should not be brought based on precedent in history of it not being brought as a standalone charge.
But you’re right, that meeting maybe is one of the final steps before Weiss and the Justice Department make their decisions. But frankly, for people that have been following this closely, it’s very hard to make predictions about timing. It could be that they’re waiting for an opinion in a in another case to be issued, which may clear the way for the gun charge. But honestly, we just don’t know how quickly or how long it’s going to take.
CHAKRABARTI: That big investigation five years ago narrowed down at the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware to these two potential charges. But nevertheless, regardless of how those go — and we’ll talk a little later, Adam, about if if Hunter Biden actually gets charged, what impact that could have on his father, President Biden. But I wanted to just step back a little bit and return to where you started with the sort of web of connections and business dealings that Hunter Biden has had. I mean, you pointed out Ukraine and China.
I want to spend a minute really understanding the details about that, the Burisma board membership in Ukraine, because, of course, that brings in President Donald Trump when he put pressure on then new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to open an investigation into Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. Remind us how Hunter Biden actually ended up on the Burisma board.
ENTOUS: For many years, Hunter was working with domestic companies. His father becomes vice president. There’s pressure for him to stop the work that he’s doing as a lobbyist. So he needs to find new ways to make money to support his family. And they have a rather expensive lifestyle in Washington. And so he has a business partner. The business partner is very active around the world. He’s got business deals that he’s working on in China. He’s got business deals that he’s working on in the in the in the former Soviet Union countries.
He is in Moscow and and he meets the oligarch that controls this company in Ukraine, Burisma. They have a meeting and basically what happens is Burisma decides it’s going to bring Hunter’s business partner and put him on the board. What happens is they learn that that the business partner’s partner is Hunter Biden, the son of the vice president, and they offer Hunter a seat on the board.
Hunter decides he’s not going to tell his father about this. They’re keeping it from his father because they sort of have this “don’t ask, don’t tell” tradition in the family. Hunter’s business stuff, his father doesn’t want to be involved in that because of his role, originally in the Senate, on key committees. So they just kind of had this firewall tradition in the family. So he doesn’t tell his dad. And he joins the board of this company. And they’re going to pay him a lot of money every month for being on the board.
The reason why Hunter wants to do it is obviously, it’s a lot of money. At this point in time, Russia has intervened militarily in Ukraine and has seized Crimea. So in his mind, he believes that the energy security of Ukraine and its independence from Russia is in not only Ukraine’s interests, but in the West’s and the United States’ interest. So he thinks what he’s doing for Burisma is aligned with U.S. policy.
Some of the State Department officials who worked on Ukraine matters were very uncomfortable with Hunter’s decision to take this position on the board because they thought it undermined their message about the importance of combating corruption in Ukraine, something that Joe Biden himself said frequently.
CHAKRABARTI: Hunter Biden’s presence on the the Burisma board … I just want to understand clearly. There wasn’t anything necessarily about Hunter Biden in his own personal expertise in the energy sector that qualified him to be on that board, right?
ENTOUS: As you probably know, companies pick their board members for various reasons. Often it’s a figurehead. What was going on in the minds of the oligarch who decided to put Hunter on the board? I don’t know, because I’ve actually never spoken to him to find out. But from talking to people around him, he, you know, was concerned that his company– He was perceived in Ukraine as being pro-Russian. He was perceived this way. And he wanted to kind of reset the narrative.
He wanted Burisma to be seen as pro-Ukrainian, not pro-Russian. And maybe he thought by putting Hunter Biden, the son of the vice president, who was extremely popular in Ukraine as sort of the leading of the American effort to help Ukraine. By putting Hunter on the board, he probably thought that that was a way for him to demonstrate that he was not pro-Russian.
So I think it’s it’s hard to know why that oligarch made the decisions that he made. But I think that’s part of it. He also was under investigation inside of Ukraine. He had rivals in the government at the time in Kiev. And maybe he thought that having Hunter Biden on the board would maybe intimidate some of those rivals. But again, we don’t really know.
For Hunter, from his perspective, he went to Yale Law School. He was working you know, he was getting into the energy sector. That’s what he does also with China later, that also becomes a subject of scrutiny. His business partner, the person who initially got the deal with Burisma, he certainly is sort of a mover and shaker in the world of finance and Wall Street. And so at the time, Burisma was looking at basically raising funds to expand outside of Ukraine, including in the United States, in Mexico and other places. So I think part of the the play on the part of Burisma was not having this be a Ukrainian company anymore, but a global company. And so that was what they were thinking.
That said, I think it’s safe to say that, if not for who Hunter Biden’s father was, a vice president, I’m not convinced that Burisma would have been interested in putting him on the board. So I think he does clearly in this case and in some of the others benefit from who his father is — getting opportunities that he might not have gotten otherwise.
CHAKRABARTI: You’d said earlier that that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden didn’t necessarily talk about Hunter Biden’s business. But do we know if there was any conversation or contact between the two about his work on the Burisma board at all during the time he was on the board?
ENTOUS: Yeah, I mean, as best I can tell, Joe Biden, the vice president, finds out that his son is on the board because he gets these daily press clippings that are delivered him by members of his staff. And when he got the clippings the day after the board seat was announced for Hunter, there was a headline in the clippings that his son had joined the board. My understanding is, and what I’ve reported in in the original New Yorker piece, is at one point after that, Joe Biden calls his son and basically just says, “I hope you know what you’re doing, son.” And and Hunter says, “I do, Dad.” And that’s pretty much it in terms of interactions.
I think to understand the context of that conversation, one needs to understand the dynamics that are going on in the family at that stage. Hunter’s older brother and closest friend, Beau, has terminal cancer and the family is really in the grips of dealing with that. They’re really worried about money. How are they going to make ends meet if when Beau dies, which is inevitable? And he’s got two kids, how is Hunter going to be able to step in and basically step into the shoes that Beau has in the family? That was the context in which these discussions are being had.
There isn’t a lot of appetite for confrontation over these matters. The family has a real crisis on its hands. And that takes precedence, I think, over, you know, the potential political backlash or pressure that comes from the disclosure that Hunter takes the Burisma seat.
CHAKRABARTI: One last thing about Hunter Biden on the Burisma board because as Vice President Joe Biden did call for the removal of a high level Ukrainian prosecutor, but was that at the time that Hunter Biden was on the Burisma board? And if memory serves, Biden was calling for the removal of prosecutor, not because he was investigating Burisma, but because he was not investigating Burisma?
ENTOUS: Yeah. So this is sort of an interesting episode because I think it has been so mischaracterized. What happens is there’s a lot of frustration in the embassy, in the United States embassy in Kiev about whether the Ukrainians are going after oligarchs for corruption. And one of the one of several oligarchs that the Americans and the British government, you know, are accusing of potentially being involved in corruption is the oligarch that runs Burisma.
Some people at the embassy who are focused on these corruption issues are agitating to say something about this oligarch. But Hunter Biden’s now on the board of that company. And so what happens is the ambassador at the time, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, he gives a speech in which he basically criticizes the prosecutor general of Ukraine for not going after, for not being aggressive enough about going after corruption. And he singles out this particular oligarch.
What happens is there’s kind of shock at the company, Burisma. They feel like they’re being singled out and they don’t know why. And so what actually happens later is Biden, obviously at the urging of that ambassador, of other advisors, wants him to raise this issue with the with the leader of Ukraine at the time. And he does. And basically that prosecutor is removed.
So it’s not that Joe Biden fires the prosecutor to protect his son. He’s pushing for this prosecutor to be fired because people at the embassy don’t think he’s seriously going after the oligarchs, including the one who runs the company that’s paying Hunter Biden all this money. So it’s in some ways, it’s almost the opposite of the way that it has been presented.
Frankly, all of this puts a spotlight once again on Hunter Biden’s position on the board. And it’s very uncomfortable for the Bidens at this stage because of this spotlight. So that’s the story.
So the prosecutor, in the minds at least, of the U.S. officials who worked on corruption issues in Kiev was not going after this oligarch. And Joe Biden is asked by his aides to deliver this message to Poroshenko, the leader of Ukraine. And what happens is that guy is fired and somebody new is brought in. Shortly, by the way, after the new prosecutor general is brought in, the oligarch that runs Burisma actually leaves Ukraine. Again, I haven’t spoken to him. He hasn’t agreed to interviews. But after that prosecutor is gone, that’s when he becomes concerned that maybe he will be prosecuted in Ukraine.
CHAKRABARTI: A little later in the show, I want to again get as many details as you can about his China dealings, just as you did regarding his Ukraine dealings. And we’re going to talk about that laptop, too. But you’ve also done some rather unique reporting about the family context with the Bidens and again, the relationship between the president and his son.
And last October, as news of Hunter Biden’s potential criminal charges began to surface, President Joe Biden spoke with CNN’s Jake Tapper. And we have that tape here. And Biden said he was proud of his son for being straightforward about his battle with drug addiction.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN [Tape]: I have great confidence in my son. I love him. And he’s on the straight and narrow. And he has been for a couple of years now. And I’m just so proud of him.
CHAKRABARTI: That was President Joe Biden last October. And in a recorded conversation from December 3rd, 2018 — this conversation was leaked from Hunter Biden’s laptop — Hunter Biden reflected on the lifetime of support he’s received from his father.
HUNTER BIDEN [Tape]: The person that has lived that life, that has given me this life, is a person I most admire in the world. And I would never change it because it’s bigger than me. Everyone else thinks — talks about how how can you be as good as your dad? I’m better than my dad. You know why I’m better than my dad? Because my dad tells me I’m better than him. Since I was two years old.
CHAKRABARTI: Hunter Biden in a recorded conversation from 2018. Now, Adam, as people might know, the other Biden son, Beau Biden, he had this promising political career. He had served in the armed forces, dies tragically from a brain tumor. And to this day, President Joe Biden talks about Beau all the time. How would you describe in light of that, what is the true relationship between Joe Biden and Hunter?
ENTOUS: Well, I think you have to go back in time to, you know, when they were very young and there was a terrible car accident where their mother and their baby sister died. And so Joe Biden is a single dad as a young senator, and he’s got these two boys at that stage. And the family sort of all comes together to try to help him raise these these boys. And so you have this incredibly tight knit family.
Joe Biden, say what you will about his politics or whatever, he really, really loves his sons. And his sons adore him. And what happens is Beau, very early on, he’s the firstborn son. He’s going to be the one who’s going to follow in his funds, his father’s footsteps. And Hunter, he is going to sort of be the guy behind the scenes who’s helping his brother achieve his dreams. The family dream is Joe Biden is going to be president first and then Beau is eventually going to become president. And the two brothers are going to help their father become president. And after he’s president for two terms, Beau Biden, the fantasy, the family fantasy is he’s going to become president. And Hunter is going to help his brother achieve that. That is that’s the family story in a nutshell.
While Beau moves into politics and obviously we know Joe Biden is in politics. They’re not making a lot of money. Hunter goes into business and that’s sort of his thing. And he’s there to support the two politicians in the family that don’t have very much money. And I don’t mean support financially, although maybe sometimes he’s paying for, you know, vacation homes. I’m not really sure. But he is he is there to basically help them advance in their political ambitions, which he shares.
What happens is Hunter has this — there’s this terrible kind of curse in the family, addiction, which goes, I did this whole history of the Biden family and this is like really, really bad on both sides of the family. It goes, you know, every generation, every generation has this problem. And Joe Biden never drank and he told his sons not to drink. He pleaded with them not to drink until they were 21.
And Beau was sort of the straight arrow. They called him the sheriff growing up. He did everything by the book. And he didn’t drink until after he was 21, there’s a brief period where he drinks. I don’t really consider him to be in in any way having a drinking problem, but he drinks like a normal person would. He drinks a lot sometimes, but then he suddenly stops. He stops that drinking.
Hunter, you know, really does drink a lot. But he doesn’t realize that he has a drinking problem until in the early 2000s when he realizes he has a drinking problem. And he decides he’s going to go into rehab because he realizes it’s causing problems between him and his wife, with the family, because he’s not there for the for the three kids they’ve got. And so he goes to rehab.
Beau is the one who takes him to rehab. Beau is the one who, when he comes back from that first rehab, accompanies Hunter, who’s definitely not as social, is a little bit more introverted than Beau. Beau takes him to the first AA meeting, Alcoholics Anonymous meeting here in Washington, D.C. when he gets back from rehab. Beau is the one that finds his sponsor. Hunter’s out smoking cigarettes and Beau’s in there trying to find somebody to help his brother. And that’s sort of the relationship that is sort of forged between the two where Hunter depends on Beau to help keep him sober. And occasionally he’s having relapses. This is a constant struggle for Hunter, staying sober. But Beau is always there to try to pull him back from the brink. He’s sort of the Hunter-whisperer in the family, if you will.
CHAKRABARTI: And then he dies, yeah.
ENTOUS: And so he’s doing this. He’s playing this role, and then he’s diagnosed with this cancer, which kills him in 2015. And then I like to see Beau as sort of like the safety net. He’s sort of the, you know, any time Hunter Hunter’s going to fall, Beau is there to kind of dust him off and get him going again. But, after Beau is gone, obviously, Hunter’s incredibly depressed about losing his brother and he has this relapse. And then Beau is not there to pick him up, to help him try to see the future in a positive way.
And Hunter’s wife, you know, he separates from his wife. He moves out of the house and he’s separated from his daughters. He’s sort of alone for the first time in his life. And he really descends into a deep depression. And now that money from Burisma is coming in every month. That’s allowing him to kind of keep those balls in the air, pay the mortgage, the jumbo mortgage bill he has, pay for his his three girls to go to this insane — I shouldn’t say insane — but very expensive school in Washington, D.C., private school. And so that money’s critical in kind of allowing him to maintain the lifestyle of his family.
CHAKRABARTI: Is this the period in which he’s making some of the decisions regarding the tax filing and that application to purchase a gun that are now hounding him as possible indictments that could come from the U.S. attorney in Delaware?
ENTOUS: Yeah. When he joins the board of Burisma, he is sober. He’s sober and he knows what he’s doing. You know, a lot of people say it was the wrong decision. It was definitely a questionable decision. But he was sober then. But once we’re in the summer of 2015, he’s an alcoholic again. And he is beginning to dabble with drugs. And eventually, you know, maybe the following summer, 2016, he becomes a crack addict. And yes, at that point, he is not in a good place.
And several of the encounters that Republicans point to between Joe Biden, who’s vice president at this point, and some of Hunter’s business associates from Burisma and some of the other places where he’s doing business or trying to do business, that’s where these encounters take place. So, for example, Hunter has a birthday party. They’re having a birthday dinner. He and his business partners invite some of their business associates and Joe Biden stops by, you know, to spend a few minutes with them. And these are the moments that Republicans are pointing to as examples where this line — to try to make the case that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s business activities.
The context here is that Hunter is becoming increasingly hard to control. He’s becoming increasingly erratic in his behavior because of his addictions. He is not really being responsive to his father, who is constantly texting him to see how he’s doing, because Joe Biden knows that his son is going through this difficult period. And so the context here is, frankly, that, you know, Joe Biden wants to do — he wants to see his son, even if it’s just for a few minutes. And so he’ll swing by the restaurant where these dinners are having, in order to basically just to see his son, to see how he’s doing because he’s worried about him. But there’s this other guy there who happens to be from Burisma and, you know, from talking to other people who were at these dinners, basically, Joe Biden will — he’s a politician. He’ll go around the room, shake people’s hands. But it was superficial interactions, as best I can tell, not substantive.
And so not really what Republicans are describing, but rather, you know, the actual story is really kind of a sad one of a father who is really worried about losing his second son after he lost Beau and wanting to keep him as close as possible and just make sure he’s okay. And that exposed him, created these liabilities that were obviously not intended by any of them, but just sort of happened because of the circumstances that were going on in the family at the time.
CHAKRABARTI: Now, I know these dealings are so entangled that it’s sort of hard to summarize them, but I’m wondering if you could just give us the brief summary of how we should understand Hunter Biden’s China business dealings, because there does seem to be an allegation there that Joe Biden himself may have somehow benefited from that? So set the record straight from what you know, Adam.
ENTOUS: Yeah. So basically what’s happening is Hunter’s got the Burisma money coming in, right. But he’s kind of falling behind on everything financially. He needs — He wants to try to get another big deal. And there was this Chinese oligarch that ran this energy company who was basically trying to get deals with all sorts of, you know, prominent people and people who are connected to prominent people. He mainly actually, frankly, focused on the Republican side of the aisle. At that point, Donald Trump was just elected president. And he’s doing deals with people who are close to Donald Trump. But he also at the same time is — and maybe he’s hedging, it’s not really clear what the oligarch is up to because he’s sort of disappeared later on. But he, you know, is courting Hunter Biden and Hunter Biden is courting him to try to try to get a deal.
And this kind of starts in earnest in 2017. Joe Biden is no longer vice president. He’s out of government. And Hunter is trying to get this deal with this oligarch, this Chinese oligarch. And frankly, the Chinese oligarch is like not really committing to it. And this is sort of what’s going on. Eventually, Hunter does get sort of a preliminary deal with this oligarch. And some, a few million dollars — I can’t remember if it’s three or five — is transferred to sort of a holding company here in the U.S. Hunter has several business partners in this deal initially, and then eventually it’s just him. And he brings his uncle, you know, Jimmy Biden, in on it. They’re trying to get this big deal with this Chinese oligarch.
And basically what happens is, separately, unbeknownst to Hunter and apparently unbeknownst to the oligarch, the Justice Department and the FBI were investigating one of his associates, one of the oligarch’s associates for allegedly paying bribes in Africa. And so what happens is the FBI goes and arrests this guy, this associate of the oligarch. And then the next thing you know, the oligarch who’s who’s sort of living in New York most of the time, jumps on a private plane, goes back to China, and then he’s arrested on allegations of corruption and that deal falls through.
This is the deal that Hunter was hoping was going to really be the biggest deal of his life and it doesn’t come together. This is at a time when he’s constantly smoking crack and drinking and the rest. So he is definitely not at his sharpest. He’s not thinking clearly at this stage. And that’s in a nutshell what happens with the Chinese oligarch.
CHAKRABARTI: Well, so then we have some tape from May 10, just a couple of weeks ago, from the House Oversight Committee. The GOP part of the House Oversight Committee held a press conference to discuss its investigations into the Biden family. And while the committee found no wrongdoings by President Biden, its report allegedly found that family members received millions of dollars without merit. And so here’s committee chair James Comer of Kentucky:
CONGRESSMAN JAMES COMER [Tape]: These were targeted and specific subpoenas. And each was different based on the information we believed the banks possessed. Every one of those subpoenas returned valuable information that had been unreported and that contributed to this committee’s understanding of how the Bidens conducted their businesses. The committee is concerned by the complicated, suspicious network of over 20 companies we have identified the Bidens and their associates used to enrich themselves.
CHAKRABARTI: So, Adam, is the money that Comer is talking about there the same money that you were just mentioning that Hunter Biden was receiving from his China business dealings?
ENTOUS: Well, Comer is talking about all of these various you know, he’s talking about Burisma. He’s talking about the China deal. There was an earlier China deal that Hunter was involved in an equity fund. You know, he briefly works as a lawyer representing a guy in Romania that you mentioned. So all these things that he’s involved in. And he’s also got these business associates who all have their own holding companies — these are consultants, basically. And they all have their own companies that when they make money, the money goes to these companies.
And so, yes, there is a web of various companies. And Hunter has business partners for these various things. And in the case of the ones where he’s partnering with others, that money is then split evenly between the various partners, and Hunter gets a chunk and the other partner gets a chunk. And what happens is that Hunter gets his third, let’s say, of a payment. And you can see this in the emails that have emerged, his daughters are going to school — like they’re going to university, some of them. And they they need money. And so every month he is basically using Venmo or something else like like that to basically wire money to his daughters.
Jimmy Biden, who’s a partner in the China deal with Hunter, he has also kids and he’s sending money to kids. So when Comer talks about family members, you know, some of the people he’s talking about are basically the grandkids of Joe Biden, who are basically in their twenties, who are going to universities. So, yes, they get some money so that they can pay their rent and pay their tuition and buy books and stuff like that.
At some points, Hunter does transfer money to Hallie Biden, who he was in a relationship with — Hallie is Beau’s widow and Hunter later has a relationship with her. And she’s needs money and so he sends money to her. And there’s another relative Hunter’s sending money to. So there is you know, he’s not wrong that there’s money that he gets, that Hunter gets, his share of these various business deals that then Hunter then pays out to these other individuals. But as best I can tell from looking at those transactions, they’re very banal kind of family transactions where he’s, you know, supporting his own kids or Jimmy Biden is supporting his own kids.
CHAKRABARTI: Okay. But, you know, here we have the son of a vice president and now president who repeatedly gets involved in business dealings with oligarchs who, you know, their own business practices can be very shady. And some of whom, as you’ve described, Adam, have been under investigation not only in their own countries, but by the U.S. as well. I mean, he keeps doing this. Do you think that President Joe Biden, has essentially given his son a pass on his questionable business dealings because of what you said earlier, that he’s concerned about losing another son?
ENTOUS: Yeah. No, I think, I think that’s right. I mean, I think that the whole family or Joe Biden, I mean, regardless of whether — again, I don’t see any, I’m not expecting DOJ, there’s no information we have that that crimes were committed here with regard to Hunter working with that oligarch either in China or Ukraine or in Romania. So these are deals with these individuals that many other people are making as well. So there’s there’s really nothing unusual. There’s very little that I can see that’s unusual about these deals except for who his father is and the attention that comes with that.
And so the wisdom of him doing these things — let’s separate the legality question from it. But just the the wisdom of it, you know, was it the smart thing to do? I think Hunter himself acknowledges some of these were probably a mistake. But why doesn’t Joe Biden or other members of his family or advisors to Joe Biden step in to basically say to Hunter, you’ve got to stop doing this kind of stuff?
CHAKRABARTI: Yeah, because it doesn’t have to be a crime for it to redound back on his dad’s political career, right?
ENTOUS: Yeah. The threshold is obviously political damage, political liabilities rather than legal liabilities in these cases, in many of these cases. And so to me, one of the things I wanted to understand is why doesn’t Joe Biden say, “Hey, look, it just looks bad?” Like, “Don’t do it.” Why doesn’t he do that? And I think that comes back to what you mentioned, which is, you know, basically Joe Biden, maybe he feels a little guilty because a lot of the scrutiny that comes and is focused on his son is because of his choices to be in politics. Right? I mean, if Joe Biden wasn’t, you know, running for president or president or vice president or a senator, there wouldn’t be the scrutiny of Hunter Biden, his son.
And so maybe there’s an element of guilt. Maybe there’s — I think more my personal assessment, Joe Biden certainly hasn’t told me this, this is just my reading of it is that, you know, he was just very worried about pushing Hunter away at a time in his life where he was incredibly sensitive and liable to run. Hunter, I don’t think Hunter would have necessarily killed himself, but he thought that his lifestyle would eventually kill him. He knew that. And so if you’re the dad who loves the son and just — and the whole family loves Hunter, and they just, they’re afraid what’s going to happen. And so, again, I’m projecting here because I do not know what Joe Biden is thinking. But my personal assessment as a father myself is he was just afraid that if he pushed too hard, Hunter would would disappear from his life, maybe physically, if not, you know, geographically and emotionally.
CHAKRABARTI: Well, Adam Entous, investigative reporter at The New York Times, who’s been reporting on Hunter Biden and the Biden family for years now. Adam, thank you so much for giving us all the details, the important details behind the ongoing questions regarding Hunter Biden.
ENTOUS: It was a pleasure to be here.
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