President Donald Trump alleged Wednesday that Hunter Biden got China to put $1.5 billion in a fund, an assertion flatly denied by Biden’s lawyer, who said earlier this year his client had not received anything from the investment.
Trump, who has made a similar allegation for months, is referencing information from a book by Peter Schweizer, “Secret Empires,” that first detailed how Hunter Biden flew to China on Air Force Two with his father in 2013.
His father, former vice president Joe Biden, had traveled to China at the time to meet with that country’s leaders while he was still in office. Schweizer wrote in a summary of the 2018 book that 10 days after the Bidens arrived in China, “Hunter Biden’s firm scored a $1.5 billion deal with a subsidiary of the Chinese government’s Bank of China.”
Trump on Wednesday put it this way: “When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China and he’s there with one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two. I think that’s a horrible thing. I think it’s a horrible thing.”
Trump made his comments on the day that the White House released a transcript of his conversation in which he urged the president of Ukraine to look into Hunter Biden’s work as a board member of a gas company in that country, a job that was given when Joe Biden was vice president and dealing with Ukraine policy.
House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, while Trump has tried to keep the focus on what he calls corrupt acts by the Bidens.
In bringing up the China episode, Trump did not provide any new evidence to back up his claims.
Hunter Biden did travel with his father on Air Force Two to China on Dec. 4, 2013.
Twelve days later, Hunter Biden joined the board of a just-formed investment advisory firm, known as BHR, whose partners included Chinese entities. Affiliates of the advisory firm said they planned to raise $1.5 billion.
Some media reports over the past five years have described Hunter Biden as an owner of a private equity company that sought to raise that amount.
However, George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, said in an interview earlier this year that his client’s role has been misconstrued. He said Hunter Biden was on the board of the advisory firm that did not directly invest, but instead advised those who did.
Moreover, Mesires said, it was not until October 2017 that Hunter Biden acquired a financial stake in BHR. Hunter Biden bought a 10 percent equity interest that was worth $430,000 in July, Mesires said. At least half of the firm’s stake is owned by Chinese entities, according to business records.
Mesires, asked about the matter in July, said: “To date, Mr. Biden has not received any return or compensation on account of this investment or his position on the board of directors. The characterization of Mr. Biden as owning a $1.5 billion private equity firm funded by the Chinese seriously misconstrues Mr. Biden’s role with BHR.”
Mesires did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Michael Kranish