Moving the Goal Posts on the Hunter Biden Investigation

From a Wall Street Journal column by Kimberley A. Strassel headlined “Moving the Goal Posts on the Hunter Biden Investigation”:

The speed at which the White House and press corps are moving the goal posts for what counts as shameful Biden family business is remarkable, though it doesn’t change the facts. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s release of evidence of family payments to Joe Biden are a problem for the White House, no matter the spin.

Mr. Comer has produced images of two checks made out to Joe Biden, both drawn from an account held by his brother James and sister-in-law Sara. Both entangle Joe in his family’s sordid financial dealings and undercut his claims that he knew nothing. It’s a far cry from Candidate Biden’s claim in 2019 that there was an “absolute wall” between himself and the Biden family business.

The committee’s account is as follows: The first check to Joe was written on Sept. 3, 2017, although the money trail begins earlier with his son Hunter. In the first half of 2017, Hunter and business associates negotiated a joint company with CEFC, a Shanghai-based energy company linked to the Chinese government. One email from a Hunter associate that discussed equity stakes suggested 10% of the joint venture be held by Hunter for “the big guy.”

CEFC was asked to commit $10 million in capital. When the money didn’t come, a frustrated Hunter sent a July 30, 2017, WhatsApp message to Raymond Zhao, a CEFC associate. It said he was sitting with his dad, demanded payment and warned: “I will 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.”

A week later, a Chinese company affiliated with CEFC sent $5 million to a joint venture between Hunter and a CEFC associate. The same day, that joint venture sent $400,000 to an entity controlled by Hunter. Less than a week later, Hunter wired $150,000 from his entity to a company owned by James and Sara Biden. On Aug. 28, 2017, Sara withdrew $50,000 from said company. The same day, she deposited it into a personal bank account that belonged to her and her husband. Prior to this deposit, the balance on that personal account was $46.88. On Sept. 3, she cut a $40,000 check from that account to Joe Biden. Graduates of elementary-school math will note that $40,000 is 10% of $400,000.

The second check to Joe Biden was written on March 1, 2018, again from James and Sara. In 2018 James convinced a hospital operator, Americore Health, to lend him $600,000, which according to a later corporate bankruptcy filing was “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.” On March 1, 2018, Americore wired $200,000 to James and Sara Biden’s personal account. That same day, James wrote the $200,000 check to Joe.

House Democrats have a ready answer for all this, with records showing an attorney trust account maintained by Joe’s attorneys wired $40,000 to James and Sara in July 2017 and $200,000 to the couple in January 2018. The transfers, the Democratic lawmakers say, were “short-term loans,” and James and Sara’s checks back to Joe were simply repayments and in fact read “loan repayment” on the memo lines. The White House adds that the loans were made when Joe was out of office, and asserts that because the checks merely repay Joe “his own money,” there is no bribery or financial gain.

Maybe, maybe not. Mr. Comer’s committee has asked the White House for records related to the loan—purpose, interest, repayment plan? So far, none have come. The committee is also still receiving records from its subpoenas for certain Hunter and James accounts.

The bigger point is that this destroys the president’s longtime claim that he was walled off from the family business. Even if James’s $40,000 check to Joe was a repayment, that transfer was underwritten by Hunter’s Chinese dealings. It was Hunter’s “work”—taking advantage of his dad’s name—that enabled Joe to be “repaid.”

Similarly, it’s highly likely that Joe’s “loans” were enabling James to engage in business deals. Hunter’s and James’s shenanigans were a headache even when Joe was vice president. Does the White House really expect Americans to believe that Joe didn’t ask for any information as to his brother’s request of nearly a quarter-million dollars, or naive enough to think that float wasn’t in aid of the Biden family cash register?

As House Republicans have dug in, Team Biden’s explanations have shifted. First, Joe had “never spoken” to Hunter about business. Then, the president was “not in business” with his son. Now, as per ranking Oversight Democrat Jamie Raskin, Joe “did not profit from his family members’ business ventures.” The goal posts are now on another field altogether. Yet the evidence—ranging from proof that Joe was on Hunter’s business calls to these latest checks—is that Joe knew about the family cash-in on his name and lent both his presence and his money to that cause.

That’s the line any Republican opponent will go with in the 2024 presidential race, and Democrats had best be honest about Joe’s liabilities.

Kimberley Strassel is a member of the editorial board for The Wall Street Journal. She writes editorials, as well as the weekly Potomac Watch political column, from her base in Alaska.

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