President Joe Biden is ‘confident’ that his son Hunter Biden ‘didn’t break the law’ even as a federal probe into the 52-year-old recovering drug addict’s foreign business dealings heats up, Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on Sunday.
The senior White House official appeared on ABC’s This Week two days after it was reported that a federal grand jury has been hearing testimony in recent months about Hunter Biden’s cash flow while serving on the board of Ukraine energy company Burisma.
During his television interview Klain vehemently denied that the White House has reached out to the Justice Department about the probe, which is being conducted out of the president’s home state of Delaware.
‘Of course the president’s confident that his son didn’t break the law,’ Klain said.
‘But most importantly, as I said, that’s a matter that’s to be decided by the Justice Department, by the legal process. It’s something that no one at the White House has involvement in.’
Klain was also asked about a recent Washington Post report that revealed entities controlled by Hunter and his uncle James Biden were paid nearly $5 million over the course of 14 months by a Chinese energy firm.
The payments allegedly began in 2017 and were made by CEFC China Energy, a company with strong ties to Beijing’s communist government.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain was forced to defend his boss President Joe Biden amid an onslaught of ethical questions prompted by the New York Times authenticating a laptop allegedly belonging to his son Hunter
In its report the Post cited newly revealed government records, bank statements and emails obtained from a hard drive supposedly belonging to Hunter — which had until very recently been discredited by most media outlets as ‘Russian disinformation.’
‘Is the president confident his family didn’t cross any ethical lines?’ host George Stephanopoulos asked on Sunday.
Klain replied, ‘George, the president is confident that his family did the right thing.’
‘But, again, I want to just be really clear, these are actions by Hunter and his brother. They’re private matters. They don’t involve the president,’ he added.
‘And they certainly are something that no one at the White House is involved in.’
The contents of the laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter were first reported on by the New York Post in October 2020, and was authenticated by DailyMail.com early the next year.
It contains a vast tranche of email correspondences shedding light on Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China — many while his father was vice president — as well as lewd images of sex acts, prostitution and drug use.
However, what Republicans hoped would be a massive roadblock in Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign was quickly dismissed and ignored by most mainstream media outlets until the New York Times claimed to have authenticated it last month.
The Washington Post’s subsequent report using evidence recovered from the laptop has forced a reckoning within the news media and prompted an onslaught of scrutiny for the White House over what exactly Biden knew and when.
An ongoing federal probe into Hunter Biden’s business dealings has heated up in recent months. That combined with the newly-granted legitimacy of the laptop hard drive that was first reported upon by the New York Post in October 2020 have posed new ethics headaches for the White House
To date, however, the president has not been implicated in any wrongdoing whatsoever.
And despite maintaining very public distance from the federal investigation, Biden’s aides have been forced to defend Hunter when questioned about the matter.
At the daily press briefing on Friday, NBC reporter Kristin Welker asked Communications Director Kate Bedingfield about the president’s last 2020 debate against Donald Trump, where he declared ‘My son has not made money in terms of this thing about, talking about China.’
‘We absolutely stand by the president’s comment,’ Bedingfield replied.
‘And I would point you to the reporting on this, which referenced statements that we made at the time, that we gave to the Washington Post, who worked on this story. But as you know, I don’t speak for Hunter Biden so there’s not more I can say on that.’
In its story revealing the $4.8 million in payments to the Bidens, the Post said the White House ‘declined to respond on the record but pointed to previous statements that Joe Biden “has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever’.”
However, at least one email unearthed from the hard drive appears to show a prospective agreement breaking down ownership stakes in the Chinese energy deal with 10 percent of profits allocated to someone only known as ‘the big guy.’
The monicker is found in an email on the hard drive to Hunter Biden from his business partner James Gilliar.
It’s not confirmed who the ‘big guy’ is, but some Republican lawmakers have speculated it to mean the president.
The breakdown of the stake in the business, including the 10% to the ‘Big Guy’, were revealed in an email last year. Stefanik said finding out who that is could be ‘the most critical question’ that Republicans have for Hunter Biden
Extracts from one email published show how Hunter Biden was to be paid $850,000 in part of his arrangement with the Chinese firm
Tony Bobulinski, another former business partner of Hunter Biden’s, also previously pointed the finger at Joe Biden.
House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-most powerful Republican in the lower chamber of Congress, told the New York Post last week that her party would subpoena Hunter Biden if they took back control fo Congress in the midterms.
It remains unclear whether Hunter might be charged in the ongoing federal probe. But the grand jury activity underscores that a federal tax investigation that began in 2018 remains active as prosecutors continue to examine foreign payments and other aspects of his finances.
A lawyer for Hunter Biden did not return a phone message and email seeking comment on Friday.
A Justice Department spokesman deferred a request for comment to the US attorney’s office in Delaware, which is handling the investigation. A spokesperson for the office did not return a phone message seeking comment.
The people familiar with the investigation and shed light on the grand jury activity could not discuss details of the ongoing probe publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.
The laptop, which the New York Times recently authenticated long after right-wing media outlets were blasted for reporting about it, contains compromising and embarrassing images of Hunter Biden
In some of the pictures, Hunter Biden is seen with a crack pipe hanging out of his mouth. His past struggles with drug addiction have been well documented
Attorney General Merrick Garland has not shed any light publicly on the investigation. But the Justice Department did leave in place the top federal prosecutor in Delaware – -David Weiss, a Trump administration holdover — presumably as a way to ensure continuity.
Hunter Biden confirmed the existence of an investigation into his taxes in December 2020, one month after the presidential election.
He said in a statement at the time that he was ‘confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.’
The Associated Press reported later that month that a subpoena served on the younger Biden sought information related to more than two dozen entities. One was Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company whose board he had joined when his father was vice president.
That move sparked concerns about a potential conflict of interest given that elder Biden was deeply involved in US policy toward Ukraine during the Obama administration.
The breadth of the subpoena highlighted the wide-ranging scope of the investigation into Hunter Biden, though there is no indication that the probe includes any scrutiny of the president himself.
Biden has said he did not discuss his son’s international business dealings with him and has denied having ever taken money from a foreign country.
Witnesses in recent months have been questioned about payments Hunter Biden received while serving on the Burisma board, the people familiar with the probe said.