President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused his Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden of wrongdoing in regards to Ukraine and China while he was vice-president, which he denies.
The issue has resurfaced following a New York Post article about an alleged email in which an adviser from a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, apparently thanked Mr Biden’s son, Hunter, for inviting him to meet his father.
Asked about the allegations, Joe Biden told a reporter it was a “smear campaign”.
An article has appeared in the New York Post focused on an email from April 2015, in which an adviser to Burisma, Vadym Pozharskyi, apparently thanked Hunter Biden for inviting him to meet his father in Washington.
Hunter, Joe Biden’s second son, was a director on the board of Burisma – a Ukrainian-owned private energy company while his father was the Obama administration’s point man on US-Ukrainian relations. Hunter was one of several foreigners on its board.
In a statement to Politico, the campaign acknowledged that Mr Biden could have had an “informal interaction” with the Burisma adviser that did not appear on his official schedule, though it said any such encounter would have been “cursory“.
“Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as ‘not legitimate’ and political by a GOP colleague, have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official US policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr Biden.
Other US media say they have been unable to verify the authenticity of the emails. Hunter has neither confirmed nor denied that he dropped off a laptop at the location.
Hunter joined Burisma in 2014, and remained on the board until April 2019, when he decided to leave.
The New York Post cited a purported email from Hunter Biden in August 2017 indicating he was receiving a $10m annual fee from a Chinese billionaire for “introductions alone”, though it is unclear who was involved in the alleged introductions.
Another purported email, which Fox News said it had confirmed, reportedly refers to a deal pursued by Hunter involving China’s largest private energy firm. It is said to include a cryptic mention of “10 held by H for the big guy”.
Fox News cited unnamed sources as saying “the big guy” in the purported email was a reference to Joe Biden. This message is said to be from May 2017. Both emails would date from when the former US vice-president was a private citizen.
A former business associate of Hunter has come forward to say he can confirm the allegations.
Tony Bobulinski told Fox News that, contrary to Joe Biden’s statements that he had nothing to do with his son’s business affairs, Hunter “frequently referenced asking him for his sign-off or advice on various potential deals” in China. However, it is not clear if such alleged involvement occurred while the elder Biden held elected office.
In 2013, Hunter flew aboard Air Force Two with his father, who was then vice-president, on an official visit to Beijing, where the younger Biden met investment banker Jonathan Li.
Hunter told the New Yorker he just met Mr Li for “a cup of coffee”, but 12 days after the trip a private equity fund, BHR Partners, was approved by the Chinese authorities. Mr Li was chief executive and Hunter was a board member. Hunter would hold a 10% stake.
BHR is backed by some of China’s largest state banks and by local governments, according to US media. Hunter Biden’s lawyer said he had joined the board in an unpaid position “based on his interest in seeking ways to bring Chinese capital to international markets”.
His lawyer also said his client did not acquire his financial stake in BHR until 2017, after his father had left office in the US.
Hunter resigned from the board of BHR in April 2020, but still held his 10% stake in BHR as of July this year, according to the company report.
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