In testy interview with GOP, Hunter Biden says father was not involved in business deals

Hunter Biden repeatedly told House investigators behind closed doors that his father was not involved in his business deals as part of an hours-long and, at times, contentious interview.

Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees released the nearly 230-page transcript on Thursday, about 24 hours after they concluded their private deposition that is part of a sweeping impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. Much of the GOP investigation has focused on the business deals of Joe Biden’s family members, as lawmakers have struggled to find a smoking gun linking official actions he took as president or vice president to those financial agreements.

Hunter Biden — in a theme he previewed in a defiant opening statement on Wednesday morning — told lawmakers and congressional aides that his father had no involvement in his business arrangements as he fielded questions on years-old financial deals and his own well-publicized struggle with addiction. Republicans have said they now want to have a public hearing with Hunter Biden — something neither he nor his legal team has committed to this week, after pushing for one last year before they agreed to the private deposition.

“All I know is this: My father was never involved in any of my business, ever. Never received a cent from anybody or never benefited in any way. Never took any actions on behalf in any way. And I can absolutely, 100 percent state, that is not just in my case but in every family member’s case,” Hunter Biden told lawmakers, according to the transcript.

Republicans largely used the closed-door interview to press Hunter Biden on his business deals with companies in China and Ukraine, as well as testimony from previous business associates that he would put his father on speakerphone or that Joe Biden dropped by dinners or lunches. Those same associates have testified that business was not discussed.

Hunter Biden didn’t deny that he put his father on speakerphone when at dinner with business associates, saying that he always answers when his dad calls and quipping to investigators: “Over the course of the last 30 years when speakerphone was invented on a cell phone? I’m certain my dad has called me.”

He also confirmed that he would invite his father to stop by for lunch or dinners and didn’t contest testimony from former business associate Rob Walker that Joe Biden had stopped by a lunch in 2017, but tried to draw a bright line between his father briefly meeting someone and having a meeting with them. Walker previously told investigators that Joe Biden wasn’t involved in their business deals and characterized his appearance at the lunch as exchanging pleasantries.

“He was not involved with any business activity. Would you call it involvement if my dad was in New York City at the same time I was in New York City and I was having lunch with some of my business associates, and I said, ‘Hey, dad, come by for lunch?’” Hunter Biden asked congressional investigators.

Hunter Biden also addressed a 2017 WhatsApp message where he claimed to be with his father. He told lawmakers that that his father was not sitting next to him, that he had sent the message to the wrong person and that the IRS agents who had handed over the message had conflated it and a separate message from a person with the same last name.

“Addiction is not an excuse, but I can tell you this: I am more embarrassed of this text message, if it actually did come from me, than any text message I’ve ever sent. The fact of the matter is, is that there’s no other text message that you have in which I say anything remotely to this. And I was out of my mind,” he said.

The hours-long interview at times turned contentious, as Republicans pressed Hunter Biden on details, including dates, of his struggle with addiction.

When Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), as part of a lengthy back-and-forth over addiction, asked him if he was on drugs while serving on the board of Burisma, Biden shot back: “Mr. Gaetz, look me in the eye. You really think that’s appropriate to ask me?”

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