President Biden said Tuesday that his son Hunter Biden is “on the straight and narrow” and denied his offspring committed a gun-purchase crime that the US attorney in Delaware reportedly is considering charging.
CNN host Jake Tapper asked Biden to give his first public response to reporting last week by the Washington Post that the FBI believes there’s enough evidence to charge Hunter, 52, with tax fraud and lying on a gun-purchase form by denying his drug use.
“Personally and politically, how do you react to that?” Tapper asked Biden, whose own involvement in his family’s overseas dealings will be a top focus of Republicans if they retake Congress in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
“Well, first of all, I’m proud of my son. This is a kid who got, not a kid — he’s a grown man. He got hooked on — like many families have had happen, hooked on drugs. He’s overcome that. He’s established a new life,” the president told Tapper.
“He is — I’m confident that he is — what he says and does are consistent with what happens. And for example, he wrote a book about his problems and was straightforward about it. I’m proud of him.”
Biden added, “He came along and said, by the way, this thing about a gun — I didn’t know anything about it. But turns out that when he made [an] application to purchase a gun, what happened was he say —- I guess you get asked, I don’t guess, you get asked a question, are you on drugs or do you use drugs? He said no. And he wrote about saying no in his book.”
“So I have great confidence in my son,” Biden concluded. “I love him and he’s on the straight and narrow and he has been for a couple years now. And I’m just so proud of him”
A Hollywood attorney associated with the first son recently paid the IRS about $2 million in back taxes on foreign consulting income in an effort to head off criminal charges, though doing so does not absolve the crime of non-payment.
Critics say the potentially limited charges against Hunter Biden would be a best-case scenario for the Bidens.
“Neither prosecutors nor the press have seemed interested in pursuing allegations of criminal or corrupt practices by some members of the Biden family. Now we have this FBI leak,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote last week. “Those charges may be the best-case scenario for the Bidens — and many others in Washington. Indeed, the reported narrow scope of the indictment is strikingly similar to what I previously described as the ideal ‘controlled demolition’ of the scandal.”
Authorities reportedly have considered bringing charges against Hunter Biden for money laundering and illegal foreign lobbying, but the status of those inquiries is unclear.
Republicans say that President Biden was involved in his son’s business dealings, resulting in either corruption or conflicts of interest in his pursuit of foreign affairs.
While vice president, Joe Biden attended with his son a 2015 DC dinner whose guest list included Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina and her husband, ex-Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, according to Hunter Biden laptop records. Baturina is one of a dwindling number of Russian oligarchs yet to face US sanctions over Russia’s seven-month-old invasion of Ukraine. She 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, a document indicates 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 as his VP father led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy. And a photo apparently taken at the dinner venue shows Joe Biden and his son with a trio of the then-second son’s Kazakhstani business partners.
Hunter Biden reportedly still owns a 10% stake in the Chinese investment fund BHR Partners, which is controlled in part by Chinese state-owned entities. Hunter Biden co-founded BHR in 2013, about two weeks after flying with his father to Beijing aboard Air Force Two. While in Beijing, Hunter introduced his dad to BHR CEO Jonathan Li. Joe Biden later wrote college recommendation letters for Li’s son and daughter.
In a different Chinese deal, government-linked energy company CEFC paid 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 claimed one month before the 2020 election that Joe Biden was directly involved with the CEFC deal before launching his presidential campaign.
Bobulinski said 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.”
Republicans say Biden is too soft toward China on a variety of issues, including 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.
Photos and emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop also indicate that Joe Biden in 2015 hosted his son and a group of Mexican business associates at the vice president’s official residence. Joe and Hunter Biden posed for a group photo with 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, Obama administration 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, then-President Trump’s defense team cited visitor logs that showed Joe Biden met with his son’s partner Devon Archer in 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 theoretically prevent possible influence-peddling. Hunter received at least $375,000 last year for five prints at a Los Angeles 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.