White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to discuss a 2018 voicemail from President Biden that reportedly was recovered from a laptop that belonged to his son Hunter — further undermining Biden’s claim that he never discussed foreign business deals with his son.
“Why is there a voicemail of the president talking to his son about his overseas business dealings if the president has said he’s never spoken to his son about his overseas business dealings?” Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre at her regular briefing Tuesday.
“Well, first I’ll say that what the president said stands. So if he — that’s what the president said, that is what stands,” Jean-Pierre replied.
“He’s leaving a voicemail about a New York Times article concerning Hunter Biden’s business dealings and he says, ‘I think you’re clear,’ ” Doocy interjected. “How is that not him talking to his son about his overseas business dealings?”
“We’re not, from this podium — I’m not going to talk about alleged materials from the laptop,” Jean-Pierre replied.
“Are you disputing that this is the president’s voice on the voicemail?” Doocy pressed.
“I am not going to talk about alleged materials from the laptop,” Jean-Pierre maintained. “Peter, I refer you to his son’s representatives.”
Later, Jean-Pierre was pressed by RealClearPolitics reporter Philip Wegmann about how the White House could refuse to even address questions about the first son’s dealings, since the president routinely says that he will “level” with the public.
“We have all heard the president likes to say, ‘I will always level with you,’ ” Wegmann said. “Moments ago, though, you seemed to dismiss Peter’s question about his conversations with his son with regards to his business dealings. And I’m wondering how is that silence consistent with the president’s promise to always level with the American public?”
“At least according to the voicemail that’s been obtained by The Daily Mail and The Washington Examiner, it certainly seems like he was seeking to do exactly that: have a conversation about his business dealings,” Wegmann went on. “Is he leveling with the American public on this?”
“So I hear your question, but what I can tell you from here, standing at this podium is that I cannot comment on any materials from the laptop and I would refer you to the representatives of Hunter Biden,” Jean-Pierre added.
The White House has repeatedly said President Biden is sticking to his 2019 claim that he had “never spoken” with Hunter Biden about “his overseas business dealings” — despite mounting evidence to the contrary, including the recently published 2018 voicemail in which Joe Biden mentioned a Times article about his son’s Chinese business partner.
The first son’s overseas dealings gained significant attention this year when the Washington Post and New York Times in March belatedly verified documents from a former Hunter Biden laptop that were first reported by The Post in October 2020.
The US attorney’s office in Delaware is investigating Hunter Biden’s finances and the first son recently cut the IRS a check for about $2 million in unpaid taxes, according to reports.
Emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop indicate that Joe Biden repeatedly met with his son’s business partners, including while still vice president when he attended a 2015 DC dinner with a group of his son’s associates from Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan.
A photo shows Joe Biden posing with the Kazakhstani group at the dinner and one day after the gathering, Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive at Ukrainian gas company Burisma, emailed the then-second son to thank him for the opportunity to meet his father. Hunter Biden earned a reported $1 million per year to serve on Burisma’s board while his dad led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
The guest list also included Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina and her husband, ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, according to an email. A report drafted by Republican-led Senate committees in 2020 said that Baturina in 2014 paid $3.5 million to a firm linked to Hunter Biden.
Baturina has not yet faced US sanctions in response to the more than four-month-old Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite Biden sanctioning many other members of Russia’s elite.
In China, Joe Biden allegedly was involved with his son’s dealings with CEFC China Energy, which the Washington Post reported paid Hunter Biden and his uncle Jim Biden $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018.
Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski says that he spoke with Joe Biden in May 2017 about the Chinese venture. A May 13, 2017, email indicated that the “big guy” would get a 10 percent equity stake in a corporate entity established with CEFC.
Bobulinski alleges that the president was the “big guy” and emails show that in September 2017, Hunter Biden asked for a new sign and more keys to an office he was renting in DC’s House of Sweden office building. The sign was to say, “The Biden Foundation and Hudson West (CEFC-US)” and the keys were for his father, Jill and Jim Biden, and a Chinese executive named Gongwen Dong. A spokeswoman for the agency that oversees the property said, however, that the sign was never changed and the keys were not picked up.
Also in China, Hunter Biden cofounded an investment firm called BHR Partners in 2013 less than two weeks after flying with his father to Beijing aboard Air Force Two. Hunter introduced Joe Biden to BHR CEO Jonathan Li in the lobby of a hotel in China’s capital. The fund is controlled in part by state-owned entities and facilitated the 2016 sale for $3.8 billion of a Congolese cobalt from a US company to the firm China Molybdenum. Cobalt is a key component in electric car batteries.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said less than a week after President Biden’s November summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the first son divested a 10% stake in BHR Partners. Hunter Biden and the White House provided no further details on who may have acquired his stake and for how much money.
Photos and emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop further indicate that Joe Biden in 2015 hosted his son and a group of Mexican business associates at the vice president’s official residence. The elder Biden posed for a photo with Hunter and a group that included Mexican billionaires Carlos Slim and Miguel Alemán Velasco.
In 2016, Hunter Biden apparently emailed one of his Mexican associates while aboard Air Force Two for an official visit to Mexico, complaining that he hadn’t received reciprocal business favors after “I have brought every single person you have ever asked me to bring to the F’ing White House and the Vice President’s house and the inauguration.”
Hunter Biden’s business partner Eric Schwerin visited the White House and vice president’s residence at least 19 times while Joe Biden was vice president, visitor logs show, casting further doubt on Joe Biden’s claims to have been unaware of his son’s business ventures.
During then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 impeachment trial, the defense team cited visitor logs that showed Biden met with his son’s business partner Devon Archer on April 16, 2014, around the time Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma. Archer joined Burisma weeks before Biden’s son.
Since his father became president, Hunter Biden has launched an art career seeking as much as $500,000 for his novice works.
The White House developed a plan for those sales to be theoretically anonymous to prevent possible influence-peddling, but ethics experts say that the arrangement actually creates greater corruption concerns. Hunter received at least $375,000 last year for five prints at a Hollywood art show attended by one of his father’s ambassador nominees, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. It’s unclear how many additional sales he may have made.