In mid-December, President Joe Biden’s troubled son Hunter ignored a House Oversight Committee subpoena to appear for a closed-door deposition. Instead, Hunter Biden held a news conference to bitterly denounce the House for demanding he appear to answer questions about his shady overseas business dealings.
As is his practice, Hunter asked for special treatment. He refused to show up for a closed-door deposition where committee members and staff could explore what he did for what foreign business interests and how he might have involved or invoked his father.
These questions would likely have included how often he used his father’s name with foreign clients or potential clients. For example, Hunter emailed Raymond Zhao of CEFC China Energy in 2017 that he was "sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why" a commitment to cut Hunter in on lucrative deals "has not been fulfilled."
Hunter told his Chinese business associate he wanted to "resolve this now before it gets out of hand. And now means tonight." If Hunter didn’t get his slice, he’d "make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction."
Hunter didn’t want to go on record last week on problematic questions such as whether the senior Biden was actually present when that email was sent. If not, was he aware of it? How often did the junior Biden invoke his father?
To avoid these questions, Hunter demanded that the committee immediately hold a public hearing, otherwise he wouldn’t comply with its subpoena. He knew this was a non-starter: Congressional investigations routinely begin with witnesses being questioned behind closed doors.
But Hunter’s news conference was a convenient place to play the victim. He denounced House Republicans, saying they’d attempted to "impugn my character" and "dehumanize me – all to embarrass and damage my father."
Actually, it was Hunter who impugned his own character and damaged his father by getting in bed with suspect foreign partners in deals he should have stayed a thousand miles away from.
Hunter and his business partner, Devon Archer, should not have gone on the board of Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, in 2014. Neither he nor Archer had experience in the natural gas business, Ukraine or in corporate governance.
They were on Burisma’s board because the company was under investigation for corruption and Hunter was the son of the American vice president and Archer a long-time associate of the American secretary of State. What better way to discourage authorities in Kyiv from pursuing Burisma than to suggest the company had influence in Washington?
If Hunter wanted not to damage his father, he should not have responded when CEFC China Energy, a company tied closely to the Chinese Communist Party, tried recruiting him in December 2015, when his father was still vice president. China Energy eventually paid Hunter $4.8 million in fees, some while his father was readying a run for the White House.
Indeed, Hunter Biden’s ill-considered ventures into international business raise interesting questions. Did the Obama White House have indigestion about Hunter going on the Burisma board? Did someone talk to the vice president about it since the senior Biden was in charge of administration efforts to diminish corruption in Ukraine?
Was the White House concerned about Hunter accompanying his father to China in 2013 where Hunter met with his Chinese partner in a new private equity fund? Did anyone on Team Obama caution the Veep about how that looked?
Hunter’s latest stunt won’t improve public perceptions about him or his dad. An Oct. 9 Associated Press/National Opinion Research Center poll found when asked "when it comes to the overseas business dealings of Joe Biden's son, Hunter," 35% of Americans believe the president "has done something illegal," 33% think he "has done something unethical but not illegal" while only 30% said "he has not done anything wrong."
Still, Republicans must be careful. There is yet no evidence the president was cut in on deals, though family members apparently repaid loans from him with foreign cash they received. And trying to impeach the president now for his son’s actions when the senior Biden was vice president or out of office will rightly strike most Americans as a stretch. The best path for GOP investigators is to avoid suppositions, conjecture and wild accusations. Just lay out the facts. Those are bad enough.