- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 13, 2019

Hunter Biden will step down from the board of a Chinese-backed firm in the coming weeks and will avoid appearances of conflict of interest if his father, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, wins the White House, his attorney announced Sunday as the Biden campaign fended off corruption accusations from President Trump.

He made the promise as House Democrats pressed forward with their impeachment inquiry into allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens and their business dealings in the former Soviet republic.

Hunter Biden’s attorney issued a statement saying he was severing ties with BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Co., but he also declared that his client was the victim of “false charges” of corruption.

“Under a Biden Administration, Hunter will readily comply with any and all guidelines or standards a President Biden may issue to address purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts, including any restrictions related to overseas business interests,” lawyer George Mesires said in the statement.

“In any event, Hunter will agree not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign owned companies,” Mr. Mesires said.

Hunter Biden will resign from BHR’s board of directors, an unpaid position, by Oct. 31, according to the statement.

His lucrative overseas business ventures in Ukraine and China while his father was vice president have come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks.

Until Sunday, he had largely stayed out of the public eye, leading Mr. Trump and other Republicans to ask, “Where’s Hunter?”

The former vice president bragged last year about threatening to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if Ukraine didn’t fire a prosecutor who reportedly was eyeing a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden held a $600,000-a-year job on the board of directors despite having no previous experience in the energy sector.

The former vice president, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said Sunday while campaigning in Iowa that he did not discuss his son’s decision to resign from the board of the Chinese equity firm before the attorney posted the statement.

“No one has asserted my son did a single thing wrong, except a lying president,” Mr. Biden added. The Associated Press reported that he pounded his finger into the podium to emphasize his point.

Mr. Biden also promised to bar his family members from occupying any office within the White House and said they won’t “sit in meetings as if they are a Cabinet member.” That was a jab at Mr. Trump, who tapped daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, as advisers.

But Mr. Biden did not say whether his pledge meant that his wife, Jill Biden, would not get the office traditionally assigned to first ladies should he win.

He further vowed that no one in his family will have “any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or foreign country.”

The Obama White House in 2016 defended Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, where his father was the point man for U.S. diplomatic efforts, by saying Hunter Biden was a private citizen and was free to work where he chose.

Hunter Biden’s attorney said he undertook those business ventures independently and didn’t discuss them with his father.

“When Hunter engaged in his business pursuits, he believed that he was acting appropriately and in good faith,” said Mr. Mesires, his attorney. “He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the president of the United States.”

The president and his allies have aggressively gone after the Bidens. Presidential son Eric Trump presided over a “lock him up” chant at a recent rally in Minnesota, and Republicans have been pushing messaging emails asking, “Where’s Hunter?”

Congressional Republicans, who have treaded carefully on questions about Mr. Trump and Ukraine, say Hunter Biden’s business ties are fair game for scrutiny.

“In this case, I have a huge issue with the fact that Hunter Biden, with no energy experience, with no Ukraine experience, gets paid at least $50,000 a month from a corrupt company run by a corrupt oligarch solely because he is the vice president’s son,” Rep. Lee M. Zeldin, New York Republican, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

On Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Hunter Biden “should have done this quite a while ago.”

“This is a part of how Donald Trump won in the first place, saying that we’re going to get rid of these sweetheart deals … where someone like Hunter Biden gets a $50,000-a-month retainer for a Ukrainian energy company when everybody knows that he doesn’t have that skill set,” she said.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, also is looking into whether the Obama administration intervened when the Chinese government teamed in 2015 with a company with ties to Hunter Biden to buy a U.S. car technology firm with potential military applications.

House Democrats are pressing forward with their impeachment inquiry into whether Mr. Trump abused his Oval Office power by pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating Mr. Biden, one of the front-runners to be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Sunday that his panel is looking to protect a whistleblower whose complaint has helped House Democrats move to pick up the pace on their impeachment probe.

“Here you have a president of the United States abusing his power to the detriment of our national security and doing so to get yet another foreign country to intervene in our election. It’s hard to imagine more of a corruption of his office than that,” Mr. Schiff said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

The House is scheduled to hear this week from Gordon Sondland, a key figure in the ongoing Ukraine situation after he did not show up on orders from the White House.

Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers Friday that she was abruptly removed from her post after the president lost confidence in her. She said she never met Hunter Biden or had anything to do with the controversy over Burisma Holdings.

“Although I have met Vice President Biden several times over the course of our many years in government, neither he nor the previous administration ever, directly or indirectly, raised the issue of either Burisma or Hunter Biden with me,” she said.

Congressional Republicans have questioned the process surrounding the expanding inquiry and have called for the full House to vote on the matter.

Mr. Trump said he would consider cooperating with the inquiry if the House took a formal vote and approved “fair” rules.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat, said Sunday that it wouldn’t bother him if the full House took a vote on the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump but suggested that it wasn’t necessary at this point.

“Doesn’t bother me to vote,” Mr. Engel said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But, you know, the Republicans would rather talk about anything else than about what’s really happened, so they throw this out that there should be a vote.

“If we had a vote on that, they’d come up with six other things. There needs to be a vote,” he said. “I think there needs to be an impeachment inquiry and we should stop the delaying tactics of the Republicans.”

He said the House can go on the record “by actually having impeachment hearings.”

“I don’t know that we need another step to kind of push it further back,” he said.

⦁ This article was based in part on wire service reports.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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