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New evidence reveals how Hunter Biden paid debts with loans from Democrat donor, art sales

Money flowing to Hunter Biden from various sources helped pay off first son’s tax debts, child support, and high-dollar rent since Joe Biden began running for president

Published: November 17, 2023 2:58pm

Updated: November 18, 2023 6:06am

When Hunter Biden's foreign business deals began drying up amid his recovery from addiction and his father’s 2020 presidential campaign, he tapped a rich new source of money that has kept him afloat: Democratic supporters of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, according to hundreds of pages of documents reviewed by Just the News.

Evidence gathered by federal and congressional investigators show Hunter Biden collected over $6 million since his father began running for the presidency in 2020. The assistance flowed predominantly from prominent Democratic donor and respected Hollywood lawyer Kevin Morris, whom the first son reportedly befriended at one of his father’s fundraising events, according to The New York Times. 

In response to Just The News' fact-checking queries and seeking comment from Morris, his lawyer, Bryan Sullivan, responded that "we believe we know the identity of the source and that it is an individual who has been engaged in a campaign of harassment against Mr. Morris that includes doxing that has resulted in threats on Mr. Morris’ life. We further believe that this individual has only disclosed certain information to cause Mr. Morris public embarrassment and may have outright misrepresented facts and statements about Mr. Morris as part of this campaign of harassment. In short, we do not believe that this source is credible, and certainly cannot be relied upon for any accurate information."

Sullivan did not disclose any details about the "credibility" of any particular source, did not detail any incidents of "doxxing" or threats to Kevin Morris' safety. He also failed to contradict any of the factual assertions made in this story and brought to his attention.

Hunter Biden’s lead lawyer, Abbe Lowell, did not respond to messages sent via text and email seeking comment.

In addition to Morris' help, Hunter Biden grossed over $1 million in the sale of his paintings under a deal with an art gallery that was first brokered by one of his father’s fundraisers in California, according to interviews and documents reviewed by Just the News.

The records show the financial assistance from Morris to Hunter Biden began during the height of his father's presidential campaign in early 2020 and mushroomed over the years to include many aspects of Hunter Biden’s lifestyle, including five-figure monthly rents at California homes, child support payments, some travel, legal bills, and federal and local tax debts totaling over $2 million.

Twenty months after the funds began flowing, Morris and Hunter Biden October 2021 committed to paper the transactions as loans. Federal and congressional investigators have identified promissory notes between them exceeding $5 million, many covering payments that Morris sent directly to vendors and debtors of Hunter Biden totaling at least $4.4 million, documents show.

The flow of money from Morris, one of Hollywood’s most respected talent lawyers whose projects range from the South Park TV franchise to the "Book of Mormon" musical, raised questions among federal agents, inside an Arkansas courtroom and within the Biden family, numerous government documents show.

Presidential brother James Biden, Hunter’s uncle, told IRS agents and federal prosecutors in a Sept. 29, 2022, interview he did not know why Morris had been so helpful to his nephew, the president’s son, who was identified in the IRS interview report by his initials “RHB.”

“Morris was helping RHB a lot, but James B didn’t know why,” the IRS summary of the James Biden interview stated. “James B thought that this might have been because of his ego. RHB asked James B to thank Morris because Morris requested a thank you” according to the IRS summary.

“James B had no understanding of what the team of people means and has no knowledge of what Morris had done for RHB,” the interview summary stated. “James B was not sure if there was a loan between Morris and RHB. James B thought that the money was significant enough that RHB asked his uncle to say something to Morris and thank him. James B didn’t recall a specific discussion, only to say thank you on behalf of the family.”

Details of that interview were made public by the House Ways and Means Committee, and you can read that interview here.

 

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer on Wednesday sent a letter to Morris asking him to volunteer information and consent to an interview about his assistance to Hunter Biden.

 

“Public reporting and evidence reviewed by the Committees suggest that you have personally lent money to, or otherwise satisfied debts on behalf of, Hunter Biden,” Comer wrote.

Comer told the Just the News, No Noise television show Friday night that the new evidence opens an important line of inquiry and heightens his committee's interest to secure an interview with Morris soon.

"We've all wondered how Hunter Biden's continued to live this lavish lifestyle. We wondered who was buying the artwork. We wondered how he was paying his child support payments and getting by on a lifestyle fit for the rich and famous," Comer said."Now we know."

"We look very forward to bringing Mr. Morris in and asking him about these loans and if he has any intention of the president son ever paying him back," Comer added.

In addition, the House Ways and Means Committee may question IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joe Ziegler at a public hearing next month about what they knew about Morris – after the committee this fall made public documents showing FBI and IRS agents investigated the transactions for a while.

In addition to Morris’ support, Hunter Biden scored sales of at least a dozen of his paintings from the Georges Berges gallery in New York City and Berlin, ranging in prices from $13,000 to $85,000, the documents show.

The artwork sales generated over $1 million in gross income for Hunter Biden since 2020 before revenue splits, the records show. One bundle of 11 paintings delivered an $875,000 windfall from a single buyer, documents also disclose.

Morris purchased one painting in 2020 for $47,500, the records show. Another painting, the documents show, was purchased by Liz Naftali, a Los Angeles real estate investor and Democratic donor who has visited the White House since Joe Biden took office and was also appointed by the president to the federal Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.

Morris and Naftali donated significant sums to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign efforts. Morris gave $2,800 directly to Biden for President, according to Federal Elections Commission (FEC) records. He also gave $45,000 to a pro-Biden political action committee and $10,000 to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, according to those same FEC records.

Naftali gave $5,600 directly to Biden’s campaign and thousands in contributions to Democratic campaigns, party organizations, and PACs during the 2019-2020 campaign cycle, including a $50,000 contribution to a pro-Biden PAC.

An art sales agreement in October 2020 first secured the partnership between Berges, and Hunter Biden, and listed Hollywood agent and longtime Democratic fundraiser Lanette Phillips as the talent agent who was entitled to a 10% commission on sales of Biden’s artwork. Phillips donated approximately $6,000 total between Joe Biden's campaign and the Democratic National Committee in the 2019-2020 cycle, according to FEC filings. 

A later agreement from October 2021 revised that arrangement and shows Phillips dropped out of any revenue share of the sales, leaving a larger share for Hunter Biden.

Phillips has been a visitor to the White House for events such as Christmas and Independence Day since Joe Biden took office, according to social media photos she posted and Secret Service entry logs reviewed by Just the News.

Phillips did not respond to emails seeking comment from Just the News.

Just the News pieced together the millions in financial assistance from Morris and art buyers to Hunter Biden through federal government records, interviews with vendors, court records from Hunter Biden's high-profile child custody case, FBI and IRS interviews with witnesses such as Hunter Biden’s tax accountant as well as evidence released publicly by Congress in Joe Biden’s ongoing impeachment inquiry.

The payments included several months of rent payments – each between $17,500 and $20,000 – for two California homes Hunter Biden rented between 2020 and 2022, monthly child support payments and attorney’s fees, according to documents reviewed by Just the News.

Even mundane expenses like insurance payments were sometimes covered, the memos show.

Documents reviewed by Just the News state that Morris and Hunter Biden agreed to treat the financial assistance as loans when the assistance started flowing in early 2020 and began committing them to writing with promissory notes starting in fall 2021.

The first note was executed on Oct. 13, 2021, in the amount of $1.4 million and included the assistance that Morris had given the first son in calendar year 2020. The note called for an annual interest rate of 5% but did not require repayments to begin until October 2025, well after Joe Biden would face his final reelection bid.

Two days later, Hunter Biden and Morris executed a second promissory note totaling $2.6 million that covered Morris’ assistance to the first son in 2021, the lion’s share of which went to pay off tax debts and penalties to the IRS as well as state and local authorities dating to 2016, the memos show.

That agreement carried the same interest rate as the first but stretched out re-payments to begin in October 2025 and end by October 2029.

Biden and Morris executed at least two more promissory notes in 2022 covering over $1.32 million in additional assistance from Morris, according to documents and interviews. Interest was again at 5% annual, and repayments are required between October 2025 and October 2028 under those agreements, the documents show.

Morris and Hunter Biden jointly engaged in other transactions tracked bv federal investigators.

In November 2021, Morris acquired the first’s son stake in a joint venture with a Chinese company called BHR, the memos show, In so doing, Morris “assumed” a $250,000 loan Hunter Biden received in summer 2019 from a Chinese business executive named Jonathan Li, the memos stated. 

Investigators found one other source of notable funding to Hunter Biden: $195,000 in gifts his father gave him in 2018 and 2019, mostly to pay for addiction treatment, according to the memos reviewed by Just the News.

Hunter Biden has acknowledged publicly in his book "Beautiful Things: A Memoir" and media interviews that he suffered from addiction and got clean through treatment. He did so most recently in an OpEd in USA Today that accused Congress and prosecutors of using his addiction problems against him to investigate him and charge him with gun crimes.

“I fought to get sober," he wrote. "Political weaponization of my addiction hurts more than me."

Federal agents developed evidence – including a media report -- that Hunter Biden likely connected with Morris at a late 2019 fundraiser in Los Angeles for his father’s presidential campaign. The event, congressional investigators are trying to determine, may have been headlined by actress/activist Alyssa Milano and hosted by Phillips, the Hollywood agent and Biden fundraiser.

FBI and IRS agents believed, according to government memos and interviews, that Joe Biden’s campaign played a role in facilitating the assistance to Hunter and also benefited from it because some of Morris’ monies went to pay off IRS and tax debts that were in danger of becoming public as liens in 2020 against Hunter Biden.

The campaign would be embarrassed by public disclosure of the liens, according to the agents’ own case files that were recently released by Congress.

Hunter Biden’s accountant, who cooperated with the probe, told agents there was an effort during the 2020 election to pay off some of the debts and that it became “prioritized” for fear that media might get wind of Hunter Biden’s tax woes, according to an IRS summary of the agents’ interview.

"Yeah, if there was going to be media attention because they were going to lien," accountant Jeffrey Gelfound told IRS agents in an April 2021 interview when asked whether erasing the tax debts had become prioritized.

 

IRS agents Shapley and Ziegler pitched prosecutors on the idea of bringing a criminal case against the Biden campaign, theorizing that Morris’ assistance amounted to a prohibited excessive contribution accepted by Joe Biden’s campaign. The IRS agents did not suggest that criminal charges be filed against Morris.

"This investigation has been hampered and slowed by claims of potential election meddling,” Shapley wrote in a May 2021 memo, according to his now-public transcribed interview with House Ways and Means in which he read verbatim a passage from the memo. “Through interviews and review of evidence obtained, it appears there may be campaign finance criminal violations.”

“AUSA Wolf stated on the last prosecution team meeting that she did not want any of the agents to look into the allegation,” Shapley’s memo stated, according to his interview. “She cited a need to focus on the 2014 tax year, that we could not yet prove an allegation beyond a reasonable doubt, and that she does not want to include their Public Integrity Unit because they would take authority away from her. We do not agree with her obstruction on this matter.”

 

A January 2022 set of handwritten notes by Shapley memorializing a meeting with federal prosecutors noted the agents “brought up campaign finance side case and evidence so far” but lead prosecutor Lesley Wolf  “said she is not personally interested in pursuing it.”

You can read those notes here.

 

The notes indicate Wolf was concerned such charges would be hard to secure a conviction on after the failed campaign finance prosecution a decade ago of former Democratic senator and presidential candidate John Edwards.

A source close to Hunter Biden confirmed his legal team believed the Edwards case would have been a boon to the defense had prosecutors brought the charges. Ironically, Hunter Biden’s lead lawyer, Lowell, successfully defended Edwards in the case.  

Lowell has been vocally critical of the IRS agents who testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

He also sent a nine-page letter to Missouri GOP Rep. Jason T. Smith, chairman of the House Ways and Means panel, that according to The Washington Post claimed that the IRS agents were “rogue actors and “disgruntled agents” who were upset that prosecutors did not move in the direction they wanted.

The agents’ lawyers dismiss such criticisms, noting most of what they told Congress has now been corroborated by documents and other witnesses.

It appears that FBI headquarters – like the IRS agents – did not like the Delaware prosecutor’s answer on the campaign finance case. Retired FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Thibault told Congress recently he received a call from a lead agent in Delaware and a headquarters supervisor asking him to pitch the case to a different U.S. attorney in Washington D.C.

“They called me and asked me some questions,” Thibault told House Judiciary Committee investigators. “And (they) asked, it's almost like, you know, my background was public corruption and what not. So it was about: ‘Hey, in your experience, what do you think about this?’”

Thibault was asked whether he ever discussed the issue brought to him by Delaware and FBI headquarters with the office of Washington D.C. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, a Biden appointee. He said he reached out at the request of the Delaware FBI and the bureau’s headquarters.

“Not Mr. Graves. I spoke to a gentleman named J.P. Cooney,” he said. Cooney was an experienced public integrity prosecutor in Washington D.C. who worked on Jan. 6 prosecutions and is now a deputy to Special Counsel Jack Smith in the prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

There is no evidence that conversation advanced any further.

The agents’ aspiration for a criminal case aside, the sheer amount of money flowing to Joe Biden’s son from Democratic supporters – especially after Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals came to an end – are certain to become a larger focus in Congress and the impeachment inquiry.

Much of the public attention has focused on Hunter Biden’s foreign incomes that began when his father was Barack Obama’s vice president. Money from Chinese and Ukrainian companies and individuals as well as gifts ranging from a luxury Porsche car to an almost three-carat diamond raised eyebrows among investigators and GOP members of Congress.

Less attention to date has focused on how Hunter Biden has afforded to live since his father became president. This summer, the first hints emerged in court documents of how his foreign monies dried up and Morris’ generosity and art deals stepped in.

A transcript of a court hearing in Hunter Biden’s child paternity case in Arkansas – since settled – as well as records the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware filed in federal court as part of a now-rejected plea deal made clear references to Hunter Biden’s new sources of income.

According to the now-defunct plea agreement, Hunter Biden raked in about $4.9 million in income from foreign sources from 2016 to 2019. Millions of dollars flowed in to his accounts from the companies connected to Chinese energy executive Ye Jianming and his work with Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.

 

Exhibit 1 of the plea agreement describes “substantial income” in 2017, including about $1.6 million from Ye’s companies and about $500,000 from Hunter Biden's Burisma board seat. The exhibit shows that, despite having the funds to pay his tax liabilities, Hunter Biden spent wildly on personal expenses, including lavish travel and entertainment. 

This habit continued in 2018, when Hunter Biden “continued to earn handsomely and spend wildly,” according to the document. In 2018, he received over $2.6 million total from Ye’s companies and from Burisma, the prosecutors' court filing alleged. 

In 2019 Hunter Biden's sources of foreign income began to dry up. His deals with Ye were scuttled when Ye was detained by Chinese authorities in March 2018 on allegations that his company, CEFC China Energy, was a built by loans on top of loans. Hunter Biden also left the board of Burisma in 2019, according to his lawyer George Mesires, who penned a defense of his client’s actions and accounting.

In 2019, Hunter Biden worked on his paintings and began his memoir “Beautiful Things,” according to the agreement exhibit. He no longer had the cash infusions from his foreign business deals that he had become used to. 

But at the time when his infusions of foreign money dried up, the Democratic donors stepped in. 

Agents identified evidence of payments from Morris to pay Hunter Biden’s bills that began on or around Feb. 14, 2020, the height of the presidential election primaries, starting with a large payment to Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, a large payment to the mother of Hunter Biden’s daughter in Arkansas and several legal bills.

During a court appearance that escaped much public attention this past May in Hunter Biden’s now-settled paternity case with the Arkansas woman, the judge raised questions about Morris’ assistance as the woman’s lawyer and pressed for more information on the financial arrangement.

The promissory notes and the fact that Morris bought one of Hunter Biden’s art paintings were discussed openly in the courtroom. When pressed, Lowell told the court he believed Morris’ generosity was driven by friendship.

“I think the answer will be because he’s a friend,” he told the court. The judge snapped back: “Well that’s a pretty lame answer.”

You can read that transcript here.

The judge ordered that more information be disclosed to the court, according to the transcript. “I think the reason is relevant,” the judge declared, demanding he provide more insight into the “inquiries regarding Kevin Morris, promissory notes, money from friends.”

The New York Times raised the same question in a May 2022 article, and interviewed Glenn C. Altschuler, one of Morris' former professors at Cornell University, who allegedly told the Times "He’s got a heart as a big as a house, and as his wallet has expanded, he’s been able to make his sympathies, his empathy, manifest in a variety of ways,” Mr. Altschuler said at the time.

"If my friend gives me a bunch of money, there’s probably a reason,” the judge insisted.