In a healthy Democratic Party, Joe Biden’s primary opponents would have cared about his family’s documented habit of trading on their powerful last name, almost certainly with the former vice president’s knowledge. People can disagree over the scale of the corruption, whether it reflects only on Hunter and James or on Joe as well, but it’s unequivocal that influence peddling has been a steady pursuit for the Bidens.
Even as the corporate media downplays recent revelations about Hunter, The New York Times reported new documents from Tony Bubulinski that “show that the countries that Hunter Biden, James Biden and their associates planned to target for deals overlapped with nations where Joe Biden had previously been involved as vice president.”
“The records make clear that Hunter Biden saw the family name as a valuable asset, angrily citing his ‘family’s brand’ as a reason he is valuable to the proposed venture,” the Times noted. That name trading seems to have been explicit in some cases, as even Ben Smith of the Times tweeted on Tuesday.
Here’s part of an NBC News report from last October:
[A]s he accompanied his father to China, Hunter Biden was forming a Chinese private equity fund that associates said at the time was planning to raise big money, including from China. Hunter Biden has acknowledged meeting with Jonathan Li, a Chinese banker and his partner in the fund during the trip, although his spokesman says it was a social visit.
The Chinese business license that brought the new fund into existence was issued by Shanghai authorities 10 days after the trip, with Hunter Biden a member of the board.
Hunter Biden took Air Force Two to meet with a Chinese banker who also happened to be his business partner, and 10 days later their fund’s license was approved, but we’re supposed to believe it was a “social visit”? And we’re supposed to believe the veep had no clue his son was meeting with business partners on their trip to China?
Crucially, we know Joe Biden lied about his knowledge of Hunter’s overseas business. There is, unfortunately, even some evidence he received financial benefits from it. The lie alone is reason for suspicion.
The point is that Democrats were negligent not to press this issue during the primaries. The evidence had been clearly reported by The New York Times, NBC, and other major outlets.
We’re certainly learning more now about Hunter’s work in places like Ukraine and China, but his intent to make money off the Biden name in either country was known to Democrats and media while his father was running in the primary. Curiously, however, Biden’s opponents pretty much ignored the entire story. This is incredible given that merely demonstrating Biden’s knowledge of the dealings would have been damning.
It’s also incredible given that Biden was competing against a slate of staunch, allegedly anti-establishment progressives who decried the influence of money in politics. Meanwhile, the son of their opponent, who happened to be the former vice president, was caught selling access to his father’s administration, raking in hefty sums based on this perceived ability to influence policy for a fee. Beyond being a powerful campaign attack, the issue raises serious questions about Joe Biden’s commitment to ethical conduct.
But nobody wanted to touch it. The negligence was so glaring that even Ezra Klein wrote a story last October headlined, “Sorry, but Democrats need to talk about Hunter Biden.”
“Democrats are afraid to talk about Hunter Biden. Trump won’t be,” said the subheading. In the piece, Klein argued, “Biden’s vulnerability here needs to be tested in the primary, when Democrats have other choices, rather than in the general, when they won’t.”
The New York Times described the Democratic field as “Tiptoeing Around Hunter Biden,” listing the gentle rebukes and firm disinterest Joe’s opponents mustered. So why the silence?
Writing in CNBC last December, Jake Novak contended, “It’s not a mystery why the Democrats who supposedly want to defeat Joe Biden for the nomination are so quiet about all this. They clearly don’t want to be seen as advancing President Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate the Hunter Biden deal.”
I think that’s correct. With the possibility that Biden would win the primary, the other candidates were also probably terrified of being cannibalized for damaging him beyond viability in the general election.
The result, however, is the second cycle in a row in which the Democratic Party has failed to use the primary process to vet its perceived frontrunner, which means it’s also the second cycle in a row in which Democrats have nominated an entrenched career politician weighed down by the baggage of corruption. This is exactly what happened in 2016, when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refused to really take off his gloves against Clinton, leaving the party ill-equipped for the general election.
As Klein predicted last year, Biden’s baggage hampers Democrats’ ability to knock the president over questions about his business too. As a self-styled enemy of the political establishment, Sanders alone should have torched Clinton and Biden over these issues.
It’s bad politics, sure. But it’s also an incredible disservice to voters, and this time it’s not merely the fault of the party’s establishment. Of course, finding a clean politician in a field of people vying for the presidency is like looking for a needle in a haystack. That’s still no excuse to leave the issue off the table.
I agree with Sen. Ted Cruz’s, R-Texas, assessment of the new email release. “I don’t think it moves a single voter,” he told Axios this week. I think that’s also probably true of Trump’s tax returns. On the right, voters’ cost-benefit-analysis is that any allegations of corruption against Trump are secondary to his policies and attitudes. On the left, honest voters admit allegations of corruption against Biden are secondary to his ability to oust Trump.
In a way, it’s fitting that Biden is running to “Build Back Better,” channeling nostalgia for the bipartisan glad-handing and smoke-filled backrooms of yore. If Democrats truly abhor the alleged corruption they’ve spent four years decrying, you’d think they might have shown a little more interest in following the money straight to Hunter.