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Family Matters: Biggest developments in the Biden finances story this year

This year has been full of big developments in the Biden story. Yet, overshadowed by the speaker fight and war in Israel, we are still waiting to get to the bottom of it. A new $200K direct payment to Joe Biden uncovered last week shows that the investigation has only just begun.

Published: October 22, 2023 11:32pm

Since 2014, when American news media began inquiring into Hunter Biden’s role with a Ukrainian gas company, the first son’s international business ventures and Joe Biden’s knowledge of them have come under scrutiny. His business dealings also played a part in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment and were a significant a focus during the 2020 presidential election.

Now, House Republicans are conducting an impeachment inquiry in President Joe Biden’s conduct surrounding his son’s business dealings, though it is currently overshadowed by Hamas attacks on Israeli citizens and the fight over who will succeed Kevin McCarthy as speaker. We are still waiting to get to the bottom of the story as Chairman James Comer of the House Oversight Committee promises the investigations will continue. 

It is a good time for a reminder of where the Biden story stands. After years of reporting, investigations, and public scrutiny, here are six of the biggest developments in the Hunter Biden story since he first became public:

1. Hunter Biden did do something wrong

As recently as May of this year, President Joe Biden defended his son, claiming that he did nothing wrong. “First of all, my son's done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him. And it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him,” Biden told MSNBC

Yet, Hunter Biden’s now defunct plea agreement, negotiated by his lawyers and the Department of Justice,  directly contradicts his father’s claims. In that deal, Hunter Biden had agreed to plead guilty to cheating on his taxes by failing to pay what he owed on millions in income in 2017 and 2018 alone. The deal also included a diversion agreement for the first son to avoid prison time for lying on a federal background check form.

 

According to the plea agreement, during the time that the younger Biden is alleged to have committed tax crimes, he was raking in millions of dollars from foreign sources, including a $1 million yearly salary from Burisma Holdings in Ukraine and millions more from Chinese sources, most prominently from CEFC China Energy and its founder Ye Jianming.

2. Viktor Shokin was a threat to Burisma

Since Hunter Biden’s work for the board of Burisma, and his father Vice President Joe Biden’s role in pressuring Ukraine to fire the prosecutor investigating the company for corruption,  came to light, the story told by Biden and his aides—and parroted by the media—was that the prosecutor Viktor Shokin was not a threat to Burisma or that he was fired because he was not properly investigating the company.

However, Hunter Biden’s own communications, internal Burisma documents produced by Blue Star Strategies, and Devon Archer’s testimony to Congress all call this narrative into question. In fact, these sources show that Burisma was acutely concerned about Shokin’s investigation and wanted it shut down.

During the 2020 presidential election, CNN fact-checked President Donald Trump’s asserted that Shokin was investigating Burisma when Joe Biden pushed for his ouster. The news site concluded: “Shokin was not prosecuting Burisma.”

However, in November 2015, weeks before Vice President Biden visited Kyiv in early December, a Burisma executive emailed Hunter Biden, reiterating the scope of what he wanted from Blue Star Strategies—a government relations firm Hunter Biden connected with Burisma—regarding the investigations into and pressure on the company.

“The scope of work should also include organization of a visit of a number of widely recognized and influential current and/or former US policy-makers to Ukraine in November aiming to conduct meetings with and bring positive signal/message and support on Nikolay's issue to the Ukrainian top officials above with the ultimate purpose to close down for any cases/pursuits against Nikolay in Ukraine,” Burisma executive and Hunter Biden associate Vadim Pozharskyi wrote the Burisma and Blue Star team.

You can read that email, released by the House Ways and Means Committee last month, here:

 

After Shokin’s ouster in early 2016, his successor in the Prosecutor General’s office closed down the investigation into Burisma. An email chain between Blue Star Strategies executives, Karen Tramontano and Sally Painter, and Eric Schwerin, Hunter Biden associate at his company Rosemont Seneca, shows that the team was celebrating the end of the investigations into the company and its founder, Mykola Zlochevsky.

“We won and in less than a year. Yea!!!!” Painter wrote to Schwerin in the email:

 

Longtime business associate of Hunter Biden and fellow Burisma board member Devon Archer told congressional investigators this summer that Burisma officials were pressuring Hunter Biden to deal with the Ukrainian prosecutor in late 2015, before Vice President Biden visited Ukraine.

 

In a later interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, posted to X (formerly Twitter), Archer said more explicitly that Shokin “was a threat” to Burisma. “He ended up seizing the assets of, of, Nikolai (Mykola Zlochevsky)… house and cars, a couple of properties and, and Nikolai actually never went back to Ukraine after Shokin seized all of his assets,” he continued.

3. Joe Biden changed “official” US policy

A longtime first Trump impeachment narrative and Biden team defense for Joe Biden’s involvement in the ouster of Viktor Shokin while his son worked for a company the prosecutor was investigating revolved around the claim that Biden was only executing official U.S. policy.

During his impeachment testimony, George Kent, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv at the time, told Congress that Joe Biden was "following U.S. policy." During the 2020 election, Joe Biden claimed he “did nothing wrong” when he called for Shokin’s firing. “I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. And that’s what we should be focusing on,” he said during the 2019 CNN-New York Times debate.

This narrative has been contradicted by evidence. In August, Just the News published documents it obtained that showed internal State Department and European Union determinations in late 2015 that Ukraine had “made sufficient progress on its reform agenda” and that “the anti-corruption benchmark is deemed to have been achieved” in Ukraine, respectively, with regard to the Prosecutor General’s office then headed by Viktor Shokin and before then-Vice President Biden called for his removal.

After these new documents were uncovered by Just the News, the Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler revised his reporting, admitting for the first time that then-Vice President Joe Biden “called an audible,” or changed the plan, on the firing of Viktor Shokin when he was on board Air Force Two on the way to Kyiv in December 2015.

This new reporting from the same fact-checker who previously “debunked” this narrative, was a major step in showing how Joe Biden executed his power as the second highest official of the United States to benefit his son’s business dealings in Ukraine.

4. Joe Biden met with Hunter Biden’s business partners

In August, President Biden snapped at Fox News correspondent Peter Doocey when he asked about Devon Archer’s testimony that Joe Biden met and spoke with Hunter Biden’s business associates. “I never talked business with anybody. I knew you’d have a lousy question,” Biden said. Biden had made the assertion several times that he knew nothing about his son's business and had never met with his business associates.

The evidence says otherwise: Joe Biden is documented meeting on multiple occasions with Hunter Biden’s business partners. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Hunter Biden admitted that he introduced his father to his Chinese business associate Jonathan Li in the lobby of their hotel when he accompanied Joe Biden on an official Vice Presidential visit to Beijing.

The Biden story changed from "I never met them" to "I met them but we didn't talk business." “How do I go to Beijing, halfway around the world, and not see them for a cup of coffee?” Biden rhetorically asked the magazine, referring to his business partners.

More evidence shows that in other instances, then-Vice President Biden attended dinners with Hunter’s business partners, including Vadim Pohzarkyi of Burisma and Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina, according to Archer’s testimony and email from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

The saga of that laptop itself underscores Team Bidens' fluid approach to the truth. When it was first revealed that the crack-addled Hunter abandoned it at a Delaware repair shop, Anthony Blinken, then part of his father's election campaign, lobbied 51 former intelligence officers to sign a letter claiming the laptop was "Russian disinformation." Major media parroted that narrative until it was finally revealed that the FBI determined that the laptop was not fake as far back as 2019. Eventually, both The New York Times and The Washington Post backtracked and admitted that the laptop was not, as they had previously reported, "Russian disinformation."

Although Hunter Biden initially insisted he "didn't know" if it was his laptop or not, he later sued the computer repairman and later Rudolph Giuliani for distributing "private" information from an "unspecified electronic storage device."  

5. Hunter Biden did make millions from China

In a debate before the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden indignantly asserted that his son made no money from his business dealing in China. “My son has not made money from China. The only guy who has made money from China was this guy,” Biden said, pointing at President Trump.

Yet, Hunter Biden’s own failed plea agreement negotiated with the Justice Department contradicted his father’s claims. Additionally, several reports from congressional investigators have shed light on the vast sums of money that Hunter Biden raked in from Chinese Communist Party-connected entities and individuals.

According to the plea agreement, in 2017 Hunter Biden received $1 million from “a company he formed with the CEO of a Chinese energy conglomerate,” CEFC China. The following year, he would go on to receive even more: $2.6 million.

The funds from CEFC China Energy Co. Ltd. are especially concerning because the company’s founder, Ye Jianming, had close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. His group received funding from the China Development Bank and Ye served as the deputy secretary general of the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC), an arm of the People’s Liberation Army’s department dedicated to foreign propaganda.

Hunter Biden also received more payments from entities linked to Ye Jianming, CEFC Infrastructure Investment (US) LLC and from sources connected to Ye for the legal representation of his deputy Patrick Ho, who was arrested in the United States on bribery charges.

6. Joe Biden did get financial benefits from his family's ventures

On Friday, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer released new evidence showing a $200,000 payment to Joe Biden in 2018 from his brother, James, in connection with the failed healthcare company Americore. This conflicts with Joe Biden's previous claims that he "never discussed with my son, or my brother, or anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses period" and that he never talked to his brother about Americore specifically.

"In 2018, James Biden received $600,000 in loans from, Americore—a financially distressed and failing rural hospital operator. According to bankruptcy court documents, James Biden received these loans 'based upon representations that his last name, ‘Biden,’ could ‘open doors’ and that he could obtain a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections," Comer said in an Oversight Committee post to X. Comer provided bankruptcy court documents and a record of the check exchanged between the brothers.

"On March 1, 2018, Americore wired a $200,000 loan into James and Sara Biden’s personal bank account – not their business bank account. On the same day, James Biden wrote a $200,000 check from this same personal bank account to Joe Biden," Comer added.

While significant circumstantial evidence built up over time that Joe Biden benefited from his family's endeavors while he was the Vice President, and afterwards a public figure, this is the first piece of concrete evidence that Joe Biden recieved direct payments from family members.