Former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice vaulted to the top of the presidential veepstakes in recent weeks as Biden draws near making his final pick just weeks ahead of the Democratic convention, which the former vice president pledged Tuesday would come next week.
It’s “absolutely serious,” said Biden co-chair and Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond of Rice’s consideration Monday in Politico. Since leaving public life, Rice has maintained a high profile with major media appearances and released a memoir earlier this year where the last few pages featured a call to action rather than an explainer of the Obama White House foreign policy.
At the same time, other candidates routinely seen at the top of the list at least appear to have fallen by the wayside as more comes public over who stands in favor amid the process.
Biden already promised in March he would pick a woman running mate, narrowing down potential candidates to a single gender while the current political climate since then has placed added pressure that the vice presidential nominee be a woman of color in particular, though Biden has made no such commitment public.
Another top contender, California Democratic senator and former presidential rival Kamala Harris seems to have lost support from key players on the selection committee. When asked by the campaign about her remarks on the Democratic debate stage last summer when she ambushed Biden on race, Harris reportedly brushed it off to the distaste of committee members.
“She laughed and said, ‘that’s politics.’ She had no remorse,” former Connecticut senator and longtime Biden ally Chris Dodd told Politico.
That puts Rice, one of the most accomplished high-profile women of color in the Democratic Party who enjoys close relationship with the Biden family at the top of the list in Biden’s search.
A Rice selection however, also comes with raised questions over the Biden family’s shady overseas business dealings that has attracted the attention of government watchdogs and even a years-long investigation by the Senate that is still ongoing.
In addition to her previous role as the U.N. ambassador, Rice most recently served as the White House national security adviser in the Obama administration from 2013 until President Donald Trump took office. Rice, therefore, was the principle security advisor for the Obama White House as the Biden family operated under questionable arrangements involving foreign powers overseas and raising concerns from even those within the administration.
Rice entered the role in July of 2013. Several months later, then-Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, flew aboard Air Force Two on an official government trip to China where Hunter participated in a series of meetings with Chinese businessmen to build a Chinese private equity firm. Shanghai authorities approved then a Chinese business license for the firm with Hunter serving on the board just days after the trip. For the past six years, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows the firm has channeled at least $2.5 billion into automotive, energy, mining, and technology deals on behalf of investors. One of those deals includes a joint acquisition of the Michigan motor company Henniges in 2015 while Rice was still national security advisor marking “the biggest Chinese investment into U.S. automotive manufacturing assets to date.”
In 2014, Hunter Biden then joined the executive board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma raking in upwards of $50,000 a month while his father was the “public face,” of the Obama White House dictating U.S. policy towards Ukraine. A Federalist analysis of Hunter Biden’s pay reveals he was being showered in excess compensation nearly double the salaries of board members with larger corporations within the same industry. Biden meanwhile, possessed no prior experience in the energy business.
Rice must answer then, whether she knew of Hunter Biden’s position, what she knew about it, and whether she ever discussed the issue with the vice president.
The arrangement even raised red flags by some in the State Department, where Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent who was the top official on Ukraine told congressional lawmakers during impeachment testimony last fall that he voiced discomfort over the situation with the White House in 2015 but was brushed aside.
“I raised my concerns that I had heard that Hunter Biden was on the board of a company owned by somebody that the U.S. Government had spent money trying to get tens of millions of dollars back and that could create the perception of a conflict of interest,” Kent told House members during a private deposition in October. “The message that I recall hearing back was that the vice president’s son Beau was dying of cancer and that there was no further bandwidth to deal with family-related issues at that time… That was the end of that conversation.”
The presence of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) within the Treasury Department over Hunter Biden’s overseas business activity also came public in February in the course of a Senate probe led by Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Whether Kent’s complaints or the knowledge of the Treasury Department’s existing reports made it to Rice remain unknown.