Analysis | Why Hunter Biden Is Back in the News

Hunter Biden, the son of US president Joe Biden, has a way of staying in the headlines. His work in Ukraine was a topic of the 2019 phone call that led to the first impeachment of then-President Donald Trump. Emails and photographs taken from his abandoned laptop computer spurred a dispute over whether social media companies censor legitimate news. Most recently, a plea deal he reached with the Justice Department over unpaid taxes and a lie he told on a firearms application prompted cries of unequal justice because it would spare him any jail time. That plea was in limbo following a July 26 court hearing.

1. What are Republicans investigating?

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James Comer of Kentucky, says the Biden family “sold access for profit around the world to the detriment of American interests.” He also says the Justice Department gave Hunter Biden preferential treatment while investigating his past. And Comer has raised questions about Hunter Biden’s latest career turn, as a painter. Biden has offered prints and paintings for sale, some listed for hundreds of thousands of dollars, raising questions about whether buying his art could be seen as a way to curry favor with his father. 

2. Why so much attention to a president’s son?

Hunter Biden, 53, has led a troubled life. “I’ve bought crack cocaine on the streets of Washington, DC, and cooked up my own inside a hotel bungalow in Los Angeles,” he wrote in his 2021 memoir, Beautiful Things. “In the last five years alone, my two-decades-long marriage has dissolved, guns have been put in my face, and at one point I dropped clean off the grid, living in $59-a-night Super 8 motels off I-95 while scaring my family even more than myself,” he wrote. A lawyer by training, Biden pursued business opportunities with foreign parties after his father became vice president in 2009, often in ways that intersected with his father’s work. 

3. What proof have Republicans turned up?

It’s clear that Hunter Biden made money from foreign companies and individuals while Joe Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president. But there’s no proof that Joe Biden influenced or was aware of those dealings. Congressional Republicans say the Federal Bureau of Investigation received an allegation that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden each received a $5 million bribe. The FBI report documenting the allegation, released to the public on July 20, cites recollections by a confidential source between late 2015 and June 2022. Joe Biden dismissed that allegation as “a bunch of malarkey.” Comer’s committee plans to interview a onetime Hunter Biden business partner, Devon Archer, about any knowledge Joe Biden might have had about his son’s overseas business dealings. Also, citing testimony from two employees of the Internal Revenue Service, Republican lawmakers allege the Department of Justice interfered with the criminal investigation of Hunter Biden’s unpaid taxes. Attorney General Merrick Garland has denied interfering in the probe, which was conducted by a Trump appointee, David Weiss, the US attorney in Delaware. 

4. What was the result of the criminal probe?

Hunter Biden was accused of failing to pay more than $200,000 in income taxes in 2017 and 2018 and of lying when filling out a federal form before purchasing a handgun in 2018. (To a question about whether he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance,” he answered “no.”) Under a deal disclosed on June 20, he was to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges, avoid prison and avert prosecution on the felony gun charge. (He’s already paid his back taxes.) Republicans complained that the proposed punishment is too light and is evidence of a two-tiered justice system when contrasted with the criminal charges Trump is facing. At the July 26 hearing on the proposed plea deal, a federal judge directed prosecutors and defense lawyers to clarify the scope of immunity that will be granted to Hunter Biden.

5. What sort of work did Hunter Biden do?

Much of it involved corporate deal-making and consulting. In 2013, for instance, after flying to China with his father aboard Air Force Two, Biden joined the board of an investment fund co-founded by a Chinese private equity investor trying to raise $1.5 billion. Entities controlled by Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden, who ran a consultancy called the Lion Hall Group, were paid $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018 by Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy in relation to energy projects that never came to fruition, the Washington Post reported. A September 2020 report released by Republican members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee concluded that Hunter Biden’s foreign work had created a potential conflict of interest for his father — especially as it related to US policy toward Ukraine — but didn’t allege that any laws had been broken. That was one in a series of voluminous reports by Republican senators suggesting wrongdoing by the president’s son, in some cases with thin evidence.

6. What did Hunter Biden do in Ukraine?

Burisma Holdings, one of the largest private natural gas companies in Ukraine, named Biden to its board in 2014. He served until 2020, and records suggest he earned at least $50,000 a month. In 2016, his father, as the Obama administration’s point person on Ukraine, pressed successfully for the ouster of Viktor Shokin as prosecutor general. US allies, the International Monetary Fund and many Ukrainians had called for Shokin to be replaced on the grounds that he had failed to pursue corruption cases. But Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, alleged that Biden had targeted Shokin to derail an investigation into Burisma. Burisma issued a statement in 2017 saying that the investigation had been closed and that it had paid an extra 180 million hryvnias ($7 million) in taxes. In hindsight, Hunter Biden said, serving on Burisma’s board may have been “poor judgment.” 

7. How did that connect to Trump’s impeachment?

In a July 2019 phone call, Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to “look into” Hunter Biden and whether Joe Biden as vice president had shut down the investigation of Burisma. That call came just days after Trump announced he was withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine — prompting Democrats to allege that Trump was using the assistance as leverage to pressure Zelenskiy into releasing damaging information about the Bidens. Trump denied extorting the Ukrainian leader, describing the call as “perfect.” Democrats in the US House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. In the Senate, Democrats fell well short of the two-thirds super-majority needed to convict Trump and remove him from office. 

8. What happened with Hunter Biden’s laptop?

The owner of a computer repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware, says Biden dropped off but never reclaimed a damaged MacBook Pro that included explicit photos and videos of Biden taking drugs and engaging in sex acts. The owner says he turned the laptop over to the FBI and a copy of the hard drive to Giuliani, who shared it with the New York Post during the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election. The Post’s front-page article focused on emails suggesting that Biden may have arranged for Ukrainian business associates to meet his father when he was vice president; the Post also published several unflattering photos taken from the hard drive. Citing concerns over the private nature of the material and whether it had been hacked, Twitter Inc. and Facebook (now part of Meta Platforms Inc.) restricted the ability of users to share the Post story. Subsequent reporting by other news organizations backed the authenticity of the material cited by the Post, fueling criticism that social media platforms and mainstream media had suppressed legitimate news. In one of his early moves as Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk released internal emails showing there was dissension within the company over restricting access to the Post article.

9. What does President Biden say about all this?

He has denied knowledge or involvement in his son’s business dealings and said he is proud of his son’s recovery from addiction. “I love him and he’s on the straight and narrow, and he has been for a couple of years now,” Biden told CNN in October. After Hunter Biden struck his plea agreement with the Justice Department, the president denied ever discussing the case with Garland, the attorney general he appointed. Following criticism that he’d shunned a 4-year-old Alabama girl Hunter Biden fathered by not counting or treating her like his grandchild, Biden acknowledged her as family in a statement to People magazine in late July.

–With assistance from Billy House.

More stories like this are available on

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.


Sign up to receive the latest local, national & international Criminal Justice News in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Sign up today to receive the latest local, national & international Criminal Justice News in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This post was originally published on this site be sure to check out more of their content.