The release of a joint report by the Senate committees on homeland security and finance raised important questions about obviously unethical foreign profiteering by members of the Biden family.
In particular, former Vice President Joe Biden’s ne’er-do-well son Hunter received a remarkable amount of money from highly suspect foreign entities, including ones controlled by the Chinese government. On at least one occasion, the elder Biden appears to have directly facilitated his son’s tawdry dealings. On another, the current Democratic presidential nominee ignored an obvious appearance of a conflict of interest that compromised the moral authority of U.S. diplomacy.
Not to be outdone, Joe Biden’s brother James and sister-in-law Sara cashed in as well, creating an international financial web that Politico a full year ago dubbed “Biden Inc.” Finally, and rather sickeningly, the new report shows multiple payments from Hunter to Russian and Eastern European women suspected of links to an “Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring.”
The legality of some of these dealings is at least questionable. But the ethical stench is undeniable. And while a father is not responsible for the actions of his grown son, Joe Biden’s role as at least a silent enabler raises serious questions about his judgment, not to mention his susceptibility, at least at the margins, to forms of foreign emotional blackmail.
The Senate committees’ report is a compelling account of Biden Inc., and even then, it isn’t exhaustive — because it alludes to plenty of other disturbing material related to Hunter’s dealings with China that remain to be analyzed. But what’s there already should concern every voter enough as it is. The dealings of Hunter, James, Sara, and Hunter’s business partner Devon Archer involved arrangements not just with multiple Chinese government-controlled entities and the People’s Liberation Army but also with corrupt Ukrainian oligarchs, the wife of Moscow’s former mayor, and a Kazakh power player, with millions upon millions of dollars flowing among numerous Biden family and foreign holdings.
None of this is immaterial to Joe Biden’s fitness for the presidency. As his son sought all this business with Chinese entities, the vice president ferried Hunter Biden on Air Force Two when Joe took a diplomatic mission to China. Again, Hunter Biden was no child accompanying his father: He was a wheeler-dealer adult with no obviously legitimate role on the trip. Hunter Biden emerged afterward with a deal estimated to approach $1.5 billion, of which an unknown amount apparently entered his own pockets as the deal’s broker.
Joe Biden should be forced to explain why he took his son on that trip and also why he didn’t ask him to avoid such sketchy financial arrangements with elements of a communist, largely hostile major global rival.
Meanwhile, the report makes clear what Washington Examiner writers long have explained — namely that Hunter Biden’s membership on the board of the Ukraine-centered Burisma company created significant headaches for U.S. diplomacy. With Joe Biden as the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine, two top diplomats told the vice president’s team (or, once, the vice president directly) that his son’s position created “the perception of a conflict of interest” and “enabled Russian disinformation efforts and risked undermining U.S. policy in Ukraine.”
Biden knew full well of his son’s board service, but he did not recuse himself from heading the administration’s Ukraine-related efforts. In failing to recuse himself, he showed woefully deficient judgment. A supposed statesman as experienced as Biden obviously knows that merely by trumpeting connections to powerful U.S. officials, corrupt foreign actors can leverage those connections for favors or for immunity from sanction or prosecution — even if the American official is genuinely pushing anti-corruption measures, as Biden did in Ukraine. In other words, the son’s business dealings might have directly retarded the father’s legitimate goals for U.S. foreign policy.
There is no good excuse for Joe Biden’s ethical blindness about his son’s and his brother’s sleazy foreign profiteering. It is not enough to say that the vice president himself neither profited from those dealings nor deliberately changed U.S. policy because of them. Due to the very nature of those business arrangements, Joe’s tacit enabling of them necessarily compromised U.S. interests. In terms of moral capital, the damage continues still.
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