Heading into the second and final presidential debate tonight, with less than two weeks until Election Day, voters deserve some straight answers from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. And if debate moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News won’t ask Biden the tough questions — and we all know she won’t — then President Trump should.
First and foremost, Trump should ask Biden about the trove of emails uncovered last week by the New York Post. Earlier this week, Trump’s campaign said that if the media didn’t ask Biden about this, Trump would, “and there will be no escape for Biden.”
The emails expose a massive foreign corruption scheme, showing how the younger Biden was profiting off his family name in a series of overseas business deals that appear to have involved his father. The elder Biden has so far refused to answer any questions about the substance of those emails, instead angrily attacking anyone who brings up the Post’s reporting and claiming it’s all part of a “smear campaign” against him and his family. Last year Biden insisted, “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”
But now, that’s not good enough. Biden managed to get through a town hall last week without having to talk about the emails because no one asked him about it, but he shouldn’t get off so easy in Thursday’s debate. Trump might point out that Biden really should address the issue now, given that a Washington Examiner/YouGov poll out Wednesday found a plurality of voters say that Biden “has not been honest about his son Hunter’s business activities in foreign countries.”
If Biden’s telling the truth, that he never spoke to his son about his overseas business dealings, then it should be easy to answer a few simple questions and clear things up. Toward that end, Trump should ask him about a May 13, 2017, email, since corroborated by Fox News, that discusses “renumeration packages” for six people as part of a deal with a now-bankrupt Chinese energy firm. The email mentions an equity split, referencing “20” for “H” and “10 held by H for the big guy?”
Obvious questions for Biden might be: Are you “the big guy” referenced in this email? Did your son ever discuss with you a deal with this Chinese energy firm? Did you ever receive payments from this deal your son made? How about for any other deals your son made?
Another important email uncovered in the Post’s reporting is from Vadym Pozharskyi, a top executive at the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, which reportedly paid Hunter Biden $50,000 a month to sit on its board despite his lack of experience or qualifications. The April 2015 email thanks Hunter for introducing Pozharskyi to then-Vice President Joe Biden.
At the time, Biden was the Obama administration’s point-man in Ukraine, and he later pressured the Ukrainian president to fire a prosecutor named Victor Shokin who was investigating Burisma and had just seized property from Burisma’s owner. In 2018, Biden bragged that he got Shokin fired by threatening to withhold a billion-dollar loan guarantee to Ukraine.
So, more obvious questions for Biden might be: did you ever meet Pozharskyi? What did you discuss? Who else was at the meeting?
The Biden campaign has since claimed that the official schedule of the then-vice president shows no such meeting, but that doesn’t mean an unofficial meeting didn’t take place. Voters deserve a straight answer directly from Biden on this point. Did he meet with Pozharskyi or not? If so, how could it be true that the former vice president never spoke to his son about overseas business dealings?
This is important because an earlier email, also uncovered by the Post, shows Pozharskyi asking Hunter Biden for “advice on how you could use your influence” on Burisma’s behalf.
We all know that Hunter Biden’s career is based on him being Joe Biden’s son and having access to his father. He admitted as much in that ABC News interview with Amy Robach last year, saying, “It is impossible for me to be on any of the boards that I just mentioned without saying that I’m the son of the vice president of the United States.”
So maybe Trump could skip all the aforementioned questions and simply ask Biden: How do you think your son makes money?
Will Biden Pack the Supreme Court?
The Hunter Biden emails aren’t the only subject about which voters need answers from Biden. Trump should also demand that Biden give a clear answer about his position on packing the Supreme Court. Biden’s ongoing refusal to answer this is unacceptable. Earlier this month, he said he would wait until after the Nov. 3 election to state his position, then last week lamely said during a town hall that his response will depend on whether Senate Republicans “rush” the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Sorry, that doesn’t cut it. The future of the Supreme Court is a major issue for some voters on the right and the left. They deserve to know Biden’s plans. It’s like saying you’ll reveal your tax plan or your immigration plan after you get elected. That’s not how it works, and Biden knows it.
The question itself is simple enough: Do you support adding additional justices to the Supreme Court? The answer should also be simple: “yes” or “no.” Biden’s mealy-mouthed response at the town hall, “I’m open to considering what happens,” is a non-answer and Trump shouldn’t let him get away with it.
In the past, Biden has suggested he opposes court-packing, but recently he’s been dodging the question, acting as if his position on an issue that’s vitally important to millions of American voters is somehow a “distraction.” It’s not a distraction. Given the growing importance, rightly or wrongly, of Supreme Court decisions to the lives of ordinary Americans, voters need to know whether the Democratic presidential nominee supports turning the court into a partisan institution by packing it with justices that will support Democratic schemes—many of which have not been realized because the Supreme Court is standing in the way, for now.
Trump shouldn’t let this go. If Biden again brings up the impending Barrett confirmation, Trump should interject: “Assuming Barrett is confirmed, which will happen in a few days, do you support court-packing? Yes or no.”
Can Anyone Get a Straight Answer Out of Biden?
Biden has made a big deal about claiming Trump has botched the coronavirus response, but he’s never been forced to give a clear answer on what, if anything, he’d have done differently. The only substantive thing Biden has said about his coronavirus “plan” that differs from what the Trump administration has done is that he would impose a “mask mandate.”
Okay, Biden, so besides your national mask mandate, exactly how would your federal coronavirus response plan differ from the Trump administration’s? Also, can you explain what you mean by a “mask mandate,” and how something like would be implemented and enforced at the federal level?
There are plenty of other questions Trump might ask that the moderator never will. Does Biden support Trump’s relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Would he undo it? Does he support the deals the Trump administration has brokered between Israel and its Arab neighbors? Would he continue that work or roll it back for the sake of reviving the Iran nuclear deal?
On and on we could go. The truth is, the reason so many questions remain unanswered by Biden is that the press won’t ask him anything substantive. So here we are, two weeks from a presidential election, relying on the sitting president to grill his opponent during a debate for answers to basic questions.