The Justice Department is probing the finances of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, for his involvement in Chinese business dealings.
He’s formally under investigation — finally.
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Following a controversial media blackout in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, the DOJ’s investigation puts a renewed focused on Hunter Biden’s financial history, which dogged his father’s White House campaign and were a frequent target of President Donald Trump and his allies. They also come at a politically delicate time for the president-elect, who is weighing his choice to lead an agency that is actively investigating his son.
The tax investigation was launched in 2018, the year before the elder Biden announced his candidacy for president. Hunter Biden confirmed the existence of the investigation on Wednesday, saying he learned about it for the first time the previous day.
“I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors,” he said in a statement.
It is unclear which entities or business dealings might be tied up in the probe, though the person with knowledge of the matter said at least some of the focus was on his past work in China. Federal investigators served a round of subpoenas on Tuesday, including one for Hunter Biden, according to another person familiar with the investigation.
Investigators did not reach out until recently because of Justice Department practice against taking overt investigative actions in the run-up to an election, one of the people said. The people familiar with the investigation insisted on anonymity to discuss an ongoing probe.
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Hunter Biden has a history of international affairs and business dealings in a number of countries. Trump and his allies have accused him of profiting off his political connections and have raised unsubstantiated charges of corruption related to his work in Ukraine at the time his father was vice president and leading the Obama administration’s dealings with the Eastern European nation.
Late Wednesday, Trump tweeted a quote from New York Post columnist Miranda Devine claiming, “10% of voters would have changed their vote if they knew about Hunter Biden.”
“10% of voters would have changed their vote if they knew about Hunter Biden.” Miranda Devine @nypost @TuckerCarlson But I won anyway!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2020
Biden is actively assembling his Cabinet but has yet to name a nominee to lead the would-be Justice Department. That person could ultimately have oversight of the investigation into the new president’s son if it is still ongoing when Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.
The transition team said in a statement, “President-elect Biden is deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”
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The revelations could also add weight to Trump’s broad accusations that Biden was weak on China. Trump took a tough line on China during the campaign as he tried to deflect blame for the coronavirus. Biden has rejected the characterization that he was weak and said that, unlike Trump, he would rebuild global coalitions to check China’s power.
A New Yorker profile on Hunter Biden last year detailed some of his business work in China, including how he accompanied his father on a 2013 trip to Beijing, where he met with a business associate. He also acknowledged having received a diamond from a Chinese energy tycoon interested in liquified natural gas projects.
He downplayed the idea that the gift could have been intended to affect his father’s policy. He told the magazine he gave the diamond to an associate.
“What would they be bribing me for? My dad wasn’t in office,” he said.
Hunter Biden has been caught up in controversies before. While his father was vice president, Hunter joined the Naval Reserve and was discharged after testing positive for cocaine in his system, later revealing a yearslong struggle with addiction.
He also joined the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma in 2014, sparking concerns about the conflict of interest given the elder Biden was deeply involved in U.S. policy toward Ukraine.
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In the weeks before the election, Trump supporters used the existence of a laptop they said was connected to Hunter Biden — and the emergence of a former business partner — to raise questions about Joe Biden’s knowledge of his son’s activities in Ukraine and China.
The laptop surfaced publicly in October when The New York Post reported on emails that it said had come from Hunter Biden’s laptop and that it said it received from Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.
The tax investigation reportedly does not have anything to do with the laptop controversy.
The Associated Press contributed to this article