By Brett Samuels
Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, said in a rare interview broadcast early Tuesday that he made a mistake by getting involved with foreign companies, acknowledging that it provided an opening for critics to attack his father politically.
“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,” Hunter Biden told ABC News. “So I take full responsibility for that.
Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever.” “What I regret is 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,” he added.
President Trump and Republicans have engaged in a sustained campaign focused on Hunter Biden’s involvement with foreign businesses to accuse him of profiting off his father’s office and paint the former vice president as corrupt.
Joe Biden is among the front-runners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and he has consistently led Trump in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.
Hunter Biden told ABC News that he did not regret his business ventures in China and Ukraine, which have come under scrutiny from Republicans in recent weeks. He also insisted that he did not discuss his work with his father other than a “brief exchange.”
He did concede, however, that he likely benefited from sharing a last name with a former vice president, but defended his qualifications to work on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, given his experience as a vice chairman for Amtrak and work in the legal field.
“I think that I had as much knowledge as anybody else that was on the board — if not more,” he said. Tuesday’s ABC interview is likely to spur further criticism from Trump, who a day earlier preemptively attacked the media by predicting Hunter Biden would be asked “softball” questions. The interview is also likely to cast a shadow over Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate, where Joe Biden may have to answer questions about his son’s business entanglements and the resulting Republican attacks.
Trump has targeted Hunter Biden on Twitter and during recent campaign rallies and off-the-cuff remarks at the White House. After Trump wondered aloud “Where’s Hunter?” at a Minnesota rally last week, his campaign began selling T-shirts with the question printed on them.
Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas giant in Ukraine, in 2014. The company’s founder was under investigation by then-prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, who the U.S., United Kingdom
and other Western governments argued had failed to rein in corruption in the country.
The U.S. threatened to withhold roughly $1 billion in loan guarantees if Shokin was not replaced as prosecutor general, a message Joe Biden delivered to officials in Kiev while serving as vice president and recounted during a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations conference.
While many of the president’s allies have argued that there was minimally a conflict of interest at play in the case, the former vice president has denied acting with his son’s interests in mind and there is no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing by either of the Bidens.
Trump has also claimed that Hunter Biden got $1.5 billion from China, similarly alleging it is evidence of corruption involving the former vice president and his family.
Hunter Biden has business connections to China, but there is no evidence of how much he’s made or that it had any relation to his father’s work while in office.
Trump has publicly urged Ukraine and China to look into the Bidens. Those comments and government documents are at the heart of an impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats. Hunter Biden told ABC that Trump’s claims about his dealings in China have “no basis in fact.” He said he did travel with his father to China in 2013 and admitted he “probably” introduced his father to a business partner and longtime friend during the trip.
“I don’t know what to tell you. I made a mistake in retrospect as it related to creating any perception that that was wrong,” Biden said.
“My dad has never made a decision about anything, I’m absolutely certain, taking into account anything other than what is best for the American people and what the people that elected him want to do. I am 100 percent certain of that.”
Hunter Biden announced last week that he would step down from the board of the Chinese equity firm and that he would cut off foreign business ventures if his father won the presidency.
He told ABC he’s aware that the criticism of his work would likely only intensify if his father won the presidency, but that he’s undeterred by attacks from Trump and his family.
“What they do is they create just an enormous amount of noise,” he said. “I have to then answer questions — about accusations made by probably the most unethical group of people that we’ve ever seen in this republic.”
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign rolled out an ethics plan on Monday that would ban lobbying by foreign governments and require presidential candidates to release at least 10 years worth of tax returns.
The plan also calls for a set of procedures to eliminate “even the appearance that their financial holdings could influence decision-making.”