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Seeking to further allay criticism that he used his father’s powerful position for financial gain, Hunter Biden told “Good Morning America” it was “poor judgment” to accept a position in a Ukrainian natural gas company, but that it was not an ethical lapse.
“In retrospect, look, I think that it was poor judgment on my part,” Biden told ABC News’ Amy Robach in the interview broadcast Tuesday morning.He said he “did nothing wrong at all,” but added: “Was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is … a swamp in many ways? Yeah.”
“I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father. That’s where I made the mistake,” Biden said in the exclusive interview. “So I take full responsibility for that. Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever.”
The younger Biden’s overseas business dealings have consumed the last few weeks of Joe Biden’s third bid for the presidency, and they have been raised repeatedly by President Donald Trump in apparent efforts to tarnish his chief rival and sidetrack an impeachment inquiry. The House is investigating whether Trump leveraged U.S. military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to get the country to investigate the family of a political opponent.
Joe Biden and his son have both denied any wrongdoing.
Beginning in 2014, Hunter Biden served as a paid board member of a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, at the same time that Joe Biden, then vice president, was shepherding U.S. policy toward that country. Hunter Biden also later worked as a director and a part-owner of a Chinese investment company.
On July 25, Trump asked Ukraine’s president to “look into” the Bidens, particularly whether, as vice president, Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma. Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry to determine whether Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to get ammunition against Biden.
As the House’s impeachment inquiry continues, Trump and his supporters have accused the Bidens of corruption — in tweets, at a profanity-laced campaign rally in Minneapolis and in an ad blitz worth millions of dollars. The claims are untrue and have been largely debunked, but it remains unclear how much the quagmire of foreign names and overseas business dealings might affect voters who attend Trump rallies and Biden town halls.
Even as the president is enmeshed in an impeachment inquiry, Trump and his allies have repeated false claims and argued that Joe Biden is corrupt, including in an advertisement that CNN and other networks have refused to air.
At the Minneapolis rally Thursday night, Trump attacked the Bidens in crass, personal terms, highlighting the unsubstantiated claims about Hunter Biden and using profanity to describe Joe Biden’s tenure as vice president.
“Hunter, you know nothing about energy. You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything, frankly,” Trump said. “Hunter, you’re a loser.”
In the ABC News interview, Hunter Biden said that he had been on several boards, including Amtrak’s.
“I had as much knowledge as anyone else that was on the board, if not more,” he said.
As a result, the Bidens have been put on the defensive as the former vice president faces a fire hose of accusations.
And questions have remained about Hunter Biden’s actions: particularly whether his overseas business associates were more drawn to his legal and technical expertise or to making a connection to his powerful father.
The controversy hits at the image Joe Biden is presenting of himself as he tries to become president. On the campaign trail, he repeatedly tells voters he spent decades as the poorest member of the U.S. Senate and boasts of the nickname earned by his modest income: “Middle Class Joe.” Hunter Biden has refused to say how much he made as a board member for Burisma, but some reports say he was paid as much as $50,000 a month.
A statement released Sunday morning by Hunter Biden’s attorney said he had stepped down from the Burisma board and planned to step down from the board of BHR, a Chinese limited-liability company that aims to invest Chinese capital outside China.
The statement did not specify what will happen to an equity stake valued at $420,000 that Hunter Biden holds in the Chinese company.
To avoid conflicts or the appearance of conflict if his father is elected president, Hunter Biden said he would restrict overseas business activity and not work on behalf of foreign-owned companies.
“Hunter makes the following commitment: Under a Biden Administration, Hunter will readily comply with any and all guidelines or standards a President Biden may issue to address purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts, including any restrictions related to overseas business interests,” the attorney, George Mesires, said in the statement. “In any event, Hunter will agree not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign owned companies.”
Joe Biden, speaking to reporters hours after his son’s statement was released, emphasized that numerous news organizations have found that he and his son did nothing wrong. He said his son’s statement was an example of Hunter Biden doing the right thing and that it was not issued in concert with the campaign.
Joe Biden, who has called for Trump’s impeachment, said the president’s actions were motivated by fear that Biden would “beat him like a drum” in the general election.
He also pledged that, if elected president, no one connected with him would work for foreign governments.
“And I can tell you now, if I am your president, the next president, I’m going to build on the squeaky-clean, transparent environment that we had in the Obama-Biden White House,” he said. “And no one in my family or associated with me will be involved in any foreign operation whatsoever. Period. End of story.”
But in the ABC News interview, Hunter Biden opined that his father’s political career likely played a role in his appointment — as it has affected many things in his life.
“I think there’s a lot of things that wouldn’t have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden,” he said.