The Justice Department’s investigation scrutinizing Hunter Biden’s taxes has been examining some of his Chinese business dealings, among other financial transactions, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The revelation puts a renewed spotlight on the questions about his financial dealings that dogged his father’s successful White House campaign. Hunter Biden was the focus of Republican complaints during the campaign for business dealings with Ukraine and China. But Hunter Biden hasn’t been charged, and two Republican-led congressional committees in September found no wrongdoing by Joe Biden.
Political adversaries including President Donald Trump accused the former vice president of benefitting from his son’s business. But Joe Biden denied any illegal or unethical dealings with his son.
Hunter Biden said Wednesday that he learned Tuesday that federal prosecutors were investigating his tax affairs.
“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,” Hunter Biden said in a statement.
The investigation was launched in 2018, a year before his father announced his candidacy for the presidency, but it isn’t clear which entities might be tied up in the probe, the Associated Press reported.
Federal investigators served a round of subpoenas on Tuesday, including for Hunter Biden, according to another person familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing probe. The tax investigation centers on his business dealings, the person said.
Investigators did not reach out in the weeks prior to the election because of a Justice Department policy surrounding elections that prohibits overt investigative acts, one of the people said.
Biden’s transition office said in a statement that the president-elect “is deeply proud of my son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”
The disclosure of the federal investigation, led by the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware, comes at an awkward moment for the incoming president, who is assembling his Cabinet. His pick for attorney general could have oversight of the investigation into the new president’s son if it is still ongoing when Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in the closing weeks of the campaign that a laptop recovered from a Delaware repair shop allegedly revealed a trove of evidence against Hunter Biden. But the FBI was investigating the laptop as potential misinformation from Russia to influence the election.
A story on Oct. 14 in the New York Post accused Biden’s son of corruption based on his work as an adviser to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
But the story – based on material from the laptop – has come under fire for relying on questionable sources and documents.
A central point of the article refers to an email from Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to Burisma, who thanked Hunter Biden for “giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent (sic) some time together.” If true, the claim would undercut Joe Biden’s repeated assertions that he never spoke to his son about business dealings in Ukraine.
But the Biden campaign categorically denied a meeting ever happened. “They never had a meeting,” Andrew Bates, a campaign spokesman, told USA TODAY. “I’ve literally never heard of this guy in my life,” Amos Hochstein, a former Biden staffer, told Politico.
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., had urged the Justice Department Monday to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden over the laptop. “This needs to be investigated free from political interference,” Buck said in a tweet. “No matter who is in the White House.”
The House impeached Trump and the Senate acquitted him of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after an investigation based in part on a 2019 call Trump made to the president of Ukraine, urging him to investigate the Bidens.
Congressional Democrats pursued the charges in an attempt to force Trump from office and called the demand for an investigation a smear of Trump’s political opponent.
Trump taunted Biden repeatedly during the campaign about the laptop. “Joe Biden is a corrupt politician, and everybody knows it,” Trump said in one tweet. “Laptop is devastating!” Trump said in another tweet.
Biden told reporters he had no response to the accusations in the days after the New York Post story. “Another smear campaign,” Biden said. “Right up your alley.”
A third person familiar with the matter said the tax investigation does not have anything to do with the laptop. Like the other people who spoke to the AP, the person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
At the first presidential debate on Fox News, Trump charged that Hunter Biden was thrown out of the military for cocaine use and later paid millions in Ukraine and China without working. But Biden said his son wasn’t dishonorably discharged and that accusations against him had been debunked.
“My son like a lot of people at home had a drug problem,” Joe Biden said. “He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him. I’m proud of my son.”
The former vice president raised recent reports that Trump has a secret bank account in China. “He’s talking about me taking money from China? I’ve not taken a penny from any country. Ever. Ever. Ever.”
“Nothing was unethical,” Joe Biden said of Hunter Biden’s role on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. “My son has no made money from China. The only guy who has made money from China was this guy,” he said, directing his comments at Trump.
Contributing: The Associated Press