The White House is standing by then-candidate Joe Biden’s October 2020 assertion that his son had not made money in China despite clear evidence that his son had received millions from Chinese businessmen.
When Kristen Welker of NBC News, who moderated the presidential debate in which Biden made the claim, asked White House communications director Kate Bedingfield on Thursday whether the White House stood by Biden’s debate comments that there was nothing unethical about Hunter Biden’s business dealings and that his son had not made any money in China, Bedingfield confirmed the White House would “stand by“ the statement.
“We absolutely stand by the president’s comment, 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,” Bedingfield said. “But as you know, I don’t speak for Hunter Biden, so there’s not more I can say on that.”
But executives from the Chinese Communist Party-linked CEFC energy company “paid $4.8 million to entities controlled by Hunter Biden and his uncle,” James Biden, the Washington Post confirmed earlier this week following reporting by the Washington Examiner and others. New documents, which include “a signed copy of a $1 million legal retainer, emails related to the wire transfers, and $3.8 million in consulting fees that are confirmed in new bank records and agreements signed by Hunter Biden — illustrate the ways in which his family profited from relationships built over Joe Biden’s decades in public service,” the outlet said.
Bedingfield was asked whether there had been discussions inside the White House about possible pardons for James or Hunter Biden, a possibility she dismissed as a “hypothetical” she wouldn’t address from the podium.
Welker had asked Joe Biden during the 2020 debate, “There have been questions about the work your son has done in China and for a Ukrainian energy company when you were vice president. In retrospect, was anything about those relationships inappropriate or unethical?” Joe Biden would then falsely deny his son had made money from China.
“Nothing was unethical,” Joe Biden replied, arguing at length he had done no wrong during his son’s lucrative time on the board of Ukrainian energy giant Burisma, before adding, “My son has not made money in terms of this thing about — what are you talking about — China. I have not had it. The only guy that made money from China is this guy. He’s the only one. Nobody else has made money from China.”
Bedingfield said before the 2020 debate that “if we see tonight from Donald Trump these attacks on Vice President Biden’s family, I think we need to be very, very clear that what he’s doing here is amplifying Russian misinformation,” adding she would not “dignify” the question of whether the emails on the Hunter Biden laptop were authentic.
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson expounded upon the conclusions of a September 2020 report they had released that detailed extensive financial connections between Hunter Biden and China, Ukraine, and elsewhere — a report dismissed by Democrats as part of an effort to spread Russian disinformation.
“Our report exposed extensive financial relationships between Hunter and James Biden and Chinese nationals connected to the communist regime,” Grassley said in a floor speech from Capitol Hill on Monday.
Much of his condemnation was trained on CEFC, whose since-imprisoned energy tycoon leader, Ye Jianming, was linked to the Chinese military and which Grassley said “operated under the guise of a private company but was for all intents and purposes an arm of the Chinese government,” with Hunter and James Biden serving as “the perfect vehicle by which the communist Chinese government could gain inroads here in the United States through CEFC and its affiliates.“
Grassley presented a poster he said showed a newly public bank record, displaying an August 2017 wire transfer from CEFC through Wells Fargo Clearing Services for $100,000 that stated “further credit to Owasco” — a Hunter Biden firm.
Hunter Biden opened a bank account with CEFC deputy Gongwen Dong to fund a $100,000 spending spree with his uncle and his uncle’s wife, Sara, the 2020 Senate report concluded.
When Patrick Ho, one of Ye’s lieutenants, was charged by the Justice Department in 2017, he reportedly called James Biden, who has said he thought the call was meant for Hunter Biden. Ho was indicted and convicted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for his involvement in a global money laundering and bribery scheme.
Ho had tried reaching out to the president’s son for help because Hunter Biden agreed to represent him during efforts to work out a liquefied natural gas deal worth tens of millions of dollars with Ye.
In August 2017, CEFC Infrastructure Investment “wired $5 million to the bank account for Hudson West III,” which was linked to Hunter Biden. In March 2018, a $1 million payment was sent from Hudson West III to Owasco, with a memo line for “Dr. Patrick Ho Chi Ping Representation.” Hunter Biden was “well aware of Ho’s links to the communist Chinese government,“ Grassley and Johnson said.
In 2017, Ye was “actively working to build CEFC by making investments around the world,” and “these efforts involved cultivating ties with Russia and actors connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” a November 2020 follow-up GOP report said.
In 2017, ex-business partner Tony Bobulinski worked with Hunter Biden to create a business dubbed SinoHawk to establish a joint venture with CEFC, but millions of dollars were instead sent by CEFC to accounts linked to Hunter Biden, the Senate GOP report concluded.
Hunter Biden revealed he was under federal investigation for his taxes shortly after the 2020 election, and his foreign work is being scrutinized under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a New York Times report said earlier this month.
Business records continued to list Hunter Biden as a 10% owner of Chinese government-linked investment firm BHR Partners as of March, months after his lawyer said he had completely divested from the venture.
Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, along with many in the media, dismissed without evidence the Hunter Biden laptop story as a Russian disinformation operation. Joe Biden called the laptop story “garbage” and part of a “Russian plan” during the October 2020 debate with then-President Donald Trump, referencing a Politico report about a letter signed by 51 ex-intelligence officials in an article titled “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say.”
The title was misleading because the letter never called it Russian “disinformation” directly, though now-White House press secretary Jen Psaki shared the article and tweeted the disinformation claim.