WASHINGTON - Hunter Biden, the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, on Sunday defended his work in Ukraine and China after calls by President Donald Trump that the two countries investigate his business dealings, pleas that have engulfed Trump in an impeachment inquiry.
The younger Biden, whose father is one of the leading Democratic candidates seeking to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election, said in a statement issued by his lawyer that despite Trump's accusations of improprieties while he was a board member of the Burisma energy company in Ukraine for five years, no foreign or domestic law enforcement agency has accused him of any wrongdoing.
Hunter Biden left the Burisma board last April and said, without giving an explanation, that he would leave the board of China's BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company at the end of October.
Published accounts say that he was paid as much as $50,000 a month to serve on the Burisma board, although his Sunday statement did not mention the salary he received. The younger Biden's lawyer, George Mesires, said the position with the Chinese investment firm was unpaid, but that Hunter Biden two years ago invested $420,000 for a 10% equity stake in the firm, which he still holds, although has not received any return on his investment.
"Hunter undertook these business activities independently," Mesires said. "He did not believe it appropriate to discuss them with his father, nor did he."
But Trump in a late July call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked for "a favor," that Ukraine investigate the younger Biden's business activities there and Joe Biden's efforts while he was President Barack Obama's second in command to get a Ukrainian prosecutor dismissed, a demand that by numerous accounts did not relate to Burisma's activities and at the time was supported by other Western countries. Trump subsequently publicly asked China to investigate the younger Biden.
With disclosure of Trump's demands by an U.S. intelligence community whistleblower, and the White House's subsequent release of a rough account of the Trump-Zelenskiy call confirming the U.S. leader's call for a Ukrainian investigation, Democrats in the House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry against Trump. The elder Biden says Trump "has convicted himself," and "should be impeached."
Mesires said that when Hunter Biden "engaged in his business pursuits, he believed that he was acting appropriately and in good faith. He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the president of the United States."
The lawyer said that if Joe Biden is elected president, Hunter Biden "will readily comply" with any White House strictures on "purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts," along with refraining from serving on any boards of foreign companies or working for them.
Until Sunday, the younger Biden had remained silent as Trump called him "a loser" with few business skills and assailed him at a political rally last week for being kicked out of the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2013 for cocaine use.
"Hunter, you know nothing about energy," Trump said. "You know nothing about China. You know nothing about anything, frankly. Hunter, you're a loser."
On Sunday, Trump tweeted, "Where's Hunter? He has totally disappeared! Now looks like he has raided and scammed even more countries!"