Biden’s son makes awkward admission
IN A pivotal TV interview, Hunter Biden has admitted he made a "mistake" by joining foreign companies while his father Joe was US vice president.
But he has also hit back hard at the people accusing him of "improper" conduct.
Foremost among those accusers is President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump is facing a congressional impeachment inquiry over the revelation he pressured the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to launch an investigation of the Bidens during a phone call earlier this year.
He has also publicly called for China to investigate Hunter Biden's business dealings.
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company called Burisma and a Chinese private equity firm called BHR. He left the former in April and has announced he will resign from the latter later this month.
The accusation from Mr Trump and his supporters is that Joe Biden abused his position as vice president to help his son's business interests. So far they have provided no evidence to back up that assertion.
Hunter Biden had been strikingly quiet in recent weeks, even as the President continued to attack him publicly.
Where’s Hunter? He has totally disappeared! Now looks like he has raided and scammed even more countries! Media is AWOL.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2019
That changed today, as he sat down for an interview with the ABC News show Good Morning America.
Hunter Biden said he did not regret joining the board of Burisma in 2014 but should have considered the potential political implications.
"I regret not taking into account that there would be a Rudy Giuliani and a president of the United States that would be listening to this ridiculous conspiracy idea, which has again been completely debunked by everyone," he said.
"It's crazy. They feel they have the licence to say whatever they want. Feels to me like living in some kind of Alice in Wonderland where you're up in the real world, then you fall down the rabbit hole and the President is the Cheshire cat asking you questions about crazy things that don't have any resemblance to the reality of anything that has to do with me."
Interviewer Amy Robach pressed him on whether he should have seen the backlash coming.
"You know what, I'm a human, and you know what, did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah. But did I make a mistake based upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not," Hunter Biden said.
"Did I do anything improper? No, and not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever. I joined a board, I served honourably."
.@ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: Hunter Biden on his relationship with his dad: “My dad doesn’t have to defend me. My dad only has to love me and my dad loves me unequivocally.” https://t.co/rmDKGz1o7O pic.twitter.com/fIoaZBWIUX— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 15, 2019
Robach asked Hunter Biden whether he would have been offered the board position at Burisma if his surname were different.
"I don't know. I don't know. Probably not, in retrospect," he admitted.
"But you know, I don't think that there's a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn't Biden."
He did pledge not to work for any foreign companies should his father win next year's election and become president in 2021.
"I don't know what to tell you. I made a mistake in retrospect as it related to creating any perception that it was wrong, and so therefore, I'm taking it off the table Amy. I'm making that commitment. We'll see if anybody else makes that commitment," he said.
That was a pretty obvious dig at Mr Trump's children, who have continued to pursue their own business interests overseas during their father's time in office.
Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka, who holds an official position in the administration, has sought and received lucrative trademarks in China, even amid the trade war.
Her brothers Donald Jr and Eric are still private citizens, at least, but have earned tens of millions of dollars from real estate deals, golf courses and other business associated with the Trump Organisation.
The President has been accused of hypocrisy - among other things - for so brazenly criticising Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings while his own children are doing the same thing.
Donald Jr and Eric, meanwhile, have both publicly criticised Hunter Biden in recent weeks.
"He didn't have any discernible duties, and he's getting paid $50,000 a month? And then he gets $1.5 billion from China? It's insane," Eric told Fox News.
In the interview with ABC News, Hunter Biden refused to reveal how much he had earned with Burisma but rubbished the claim he made $1.5 billion in China.
"This literally has no basis in fact, in any way," he said.
"No one ever paid me $1.5 billion, and if they had, I would not be doing this interview right now.
"Look, I'm a private citizen. What I don't have to do is sit here and open my kimono as to how it relates to how much money I make.
"I have to answer questions about accusations made by probably the most unethical group of people that we've ever seen in this republic."
Hunter Biden said he did not earn anything from his role on the board of BHR, which was unpaid. So where does the $1.5 billion figure come from?
Back in 2014, BHR was trying to raise $1.5 billion to invest outside China. As far as anyone can work out, that's probably where Mr Trump picked up the number.
Mr Biden bought a 10 per cent stake in the company in 2017, paying $420,000.
Mr Trump reacted to Mr Biden's interview on Twitter, saying he was "really bad" and it reminded him of "crooked Hillary".
Hunter Biden was really bad on @GMA. Now Sleepy Joe has real problems! Reminds me of Crooked Hillary and her 33,000 deleted Emails, not recoverable!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2019
Joe Biden's campaign for the presidency is at an interesting juncture.
He was long considered the frontrunner for his party's nomination, but that is now in doubt, as rival Elizabeth Warren has edged past him in the polls in recent weeks.
There is a critical debate between the Democratic candidates today. You can expect the accusations against Hunter Biden to come up.