NEW YORK — Amid intense scrutiny from US President Donald Trump and his Republican allies, Hunter Biden says he will step down from the board of a China-backed private equity firm later this month, as part of a pledge not to do so working for foreign-owned companies should his father win the presidency.
Biden, the 49-year-old son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, revealed his plan Sunday in a web post by his attorney George Mesires, who outlined a defense of the younger Biden’s work in Ukraine and China that has turned out to be one of Trump’s Main lines of attack against Hunter’s father, although there is no evidence of impropriety.
“Hunter makes the following commitment: Under a Biden administration, Hunter will willingly comply with any policy or standard that a President Biden may enact to address alleged conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts, including any restrictions related to foreign business interests. In any event, Hunter agrees not to serve on the boards of or work for any foreign-owned company,” Mesires wrote.
He continued, “He will continue to keep his father personally uninvolved in his business affairs and, if necessary and appropriate, will contact the Office of the White House Counsel to inform his application of the Biden administration’s guidelines or standards to his business decision– manufacture.”
Joe Biden told reporters after a union forum in suburban Des Moines, Iowa, that his son did not discuss that decision with him before releasing the statement.
“Nobody has said my son did a single thing wrong,” Biden added, banging his finger on the podium, “except a lying president.”
And Biden vowed to prevent his family members from occupying a White House office, saying they would “not sit in meetings as if they were cabinet members.” That was a blow to Trump, who is tapping daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner as advisors. Biden did not say whether his promise meant his wife, Jill Biden, would not get the office traditionally assigned to First Ladies should he win.
He further vowed that no one in his family “will have business dealings with anyone that involves a foreign company or a foreign country.”
Trump responded to the announcement on Monday.
“Wow! Hunter Biden is forced to leave a Chinese company. Now watch the Fake News wrap their greasy and very protective arms around him. Only softball questions from him please!” Trump tweeted.
Hunter Biden’s work abroad is at the center of the House impeachment inquiry into Trump, who has admitted to asking foreign powers to investigate Hunter Biden’s operations abroad.
The White House released a crude transcript of a call in which Trump asked Ukraine’s new President, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Biden’s family and Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election that put Trump in office. Trump has also encouraged China to look into Hunter Biden’s work in that country, claiming without any evidence that he made $1.5 billion there from a “sweet” deal.
The President’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is also coming under increasing scrutiny for his efforts to investigate Hunter Biden’s business background. Late last week, two businessmen involved in Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Hunter Biden’s operations in Ukraine were charged with federal campaign finance violations.
Still, Republicans reacted with great skepticism to the news of Hunter Biden’s decision to withdraw from China-backed BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Co.
“I think this is just another way to salvage a struggling campaign that’s coming to an end,” Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures channel. “He knows he’s in trouble and this is just another attempt to divert attention
On the same show, White House Counsel Kellyanne Conway said that Hunter Biden “should have done that quite a while ago.”
Mesires repeatedly noted that there is no evidence of wrongdoing against Hunter Biden, despite Trump’s mounting attacks ahead of the 2020 election.
“Despite extensive scrutiny, at no time has any law enforcement agency, domestic or foreign, alleged that Hunter committed any wrongdoing at any point during his five-year tenure,” Mesires said of Biden’s experience in Ukraine in his Sunday post.
The attorney wrote that Hunter Biden worked as an unpaid board member for BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Co. “due to his interest in exploring ways to bring Chinese capital to international markets.”
“To date, Hunter has not received compensation for serving on BHR’s board of directors,” Mesires said. “He has received no return on his investment; there have been no distributions to BHR shareholders since Hunter received his interest.”
One of Biden’s Democratic presidential rivals praised the move, noting that Trump’s children are openly trading on his behalf in business deals around the world while Trump occupies the Oval Office.
“I think it shows the difference in standards compared to the White House,” said Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
“I mean this is where Hunter Biden is stepping down from a position to ensure that while there is no allegation of wrongdoing, something is done just to make sure there is not even the appearance of a conflict of interest while in the White House, the President of the United States is a walking conflict of interest,” he said.