WASHINGTON — Who are you gonna believe, the White House or your lying eyes?
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted Thursday that President Biden “is not lying about anything” regarding his interactions with his family’s foreign business associates — one day after the House voted to authorize an impeachment inquiry amid a pile of evidence the commander-in-chief has in fact been untruthful.
“Can you explain to people why the president interacted with so many of his relatives’ foreign associates and why he continues to deny any interaction? How should people think about this?” The Post asked Jean Pierre at her regular briefing.
“What we’re seeing from House Republicans is wasted time and it’s certainly a baseless political stunt,” Jean-Pierre replied after all Republicans supported the creation of the inquiry to compel testimony and the release of documents.
“House Republicans are leaving this week to go enjoy a nice holiday, as most Americans should, but what happened to Ukraine? … They haven’t been able to get that done,” she added. “They haven’t been able to help us fix what’s going on at the border, they haven’t been able to get that done. They haven’t been able to start a conversation about how we’re going to avert a shutdown in January.
“There has been zero evidence — zero evidence. You can ask me about engagement and what the president has done with his family in conversation, but there’s no evidence,” she went on.
“There is no evidence the president has done wrongdoing — there’s none. Absolutely none — none! And that is just a fact. You’ve heard that from Republicans themselves. So they are wasting their time. Instead of doing the work on behalf of the American people, they go after the president’s family. But that is a waste of time.”
“Is there an easy way to counter the central message, though,” The Post followed up, “that the president interacted with associates and has been lying about it since?”
“The president is not lying about anything when it — as it relates to what House Republicans are trying to do,” Jean-Pierre responded. “It is baseless, it is a political stunt and it has not proven that the president has done anything wrong — anything wrong. And so they are wasting their time. They are wasting the American people’s time.”
The White House stuck to Biden’s longstanding denial of contacts a day after first son Hunter Biden appeared to give a newly massaged framing of the elder Biden’s role, saying Wednesday “my father was not financially involved in my business” — a conspicuous update from the White House’s statement this summer that Biden “was never in business with his son.”
That framing is itself an evolution from Biden’s campaign-trail claim that “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses.”
Biden, 81, has steadfastly denied any contact with his relatives’ foreign business partners, despite evidence that he met while vice president with Hunter and first brother James Biden’s associates from China, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine, in addition to many of their US contacts.
The president told The Post last week that he did not interact with any of his son or brother’s associates, saying, “I did not. And it’s just a bunch of lies. They’re lies.”
Republicans countered that Biden was the one lying. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) tweeted, “The President just lied again to the American people. FACT: There are at least 22 examples of Joe Biden speaking with or meeting with Hunter Biden’s foreign business associates.”
There is documentation of Biden engaging in his relatives’ foreign relationships from at least 2011 through after he left office as vice president in 2017.
Joe Biden wrote to a letter to Hunter’s business associate Devon Archer in 2011 thanking him for attending a Chinese state lunch in Washington and expressing satisfaction that Archer and Hunter Biden were in business.
The then-vice president subsequently was on speakerphone for about 20 of Hunter’s foreign business meetings and joined two dinners at DC’s Café Milano — in 2014 and 2015 — with his son’s Kazakhstani, Russian and Ukrainian patrons, Archer testified July 31 to the House Oversight Committee.
Dinner guests included former Moscow first lady Yelena Baturina, who transferred $3.5 million to a Hunter Biden-linked entity in early 2014 and separately invested $100 million with Archer’s Rosemont Realty, with which Hunter Biden was briefly associated.
Kazakhstani businessman Kenes Rakishev, who purchased the then-second son a $142,000 sports car, also dined with Joe Biden and posed for a group photo with him.
Vadym Pozharskyi, board adviser to Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings, which paid Hunter up to $1 million per year beginning in 2014 when his father assumed control of US policy toward Ukraine, wrote Hunter a thank-you email the next day for the opportunity to meet his father.
Archer also testified that Hunter Biden stepped away from a gathering at the Four Seasons in Dubai to “call DC” with Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky and Pozharskyi in December 2015.
An FBI informant file released in July by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says Zlochevsky complained in 2016 that he was “coerced” into paying $10 million in bribes to Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for the then-vice president’s help in ousting Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin, who was removed from office that March after a sustained campaign by Joe Biden. The bribery claim has not been proven.
In still other contacts, Joe Biden in November 2015 hosted Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and members of the wealthy Mexican Aleman family, whom Hunter Biden and his associate Jeff Cooper courted with energy and technology pitches, at the official vice presidential residence and gave them a White House tour.
In China, Archer also said that Joe Biden had coffee — rather than a previously reported handshake — in December 2013 with Jonathan Li, the incoming CEO of Chinese state-backed investment fund BHR Partners, which Hunter cofounded within weeks of joining his father aboard Air Force Two for a trip to Beijing.
The then-second son put Joe Biden on speakerphone with Li during a subsequent business trip by Hunter to China, Archer said, and Joe Biden wrote college recommendation letters for Li’s children.
Hunter Biden held a 10% stake in BHR through at least part of his father’s first year in office as president and the terms of his divestment remain murky.
As part of a later Chinese venture with state-linked company CEFC China Energy, Joe Biden allegedly met twice with his son and brother’s partners and was even penciled in as the “big guy” due a 10% cut, as documented in a May 2017 email months after he left office as vice president. Joe Biden was also named in an October 2017 email about CEFC’s attempt to purchase US natural gas.
As part of the same Chinese business relationship, Hunter sent a threatening July 30, 2017, WhatsApp message to a China-based associate warning that he was “sitting here with my father” and threatening retribution if the deal was aborted, immediately preceding the transfer of $5.1 million from CEFC to Biden-linked accounts — on top of $1 million sent in March of that year shortly after Biden left office.
IRS supervisory agent Gary Shapley, who stepped forward this year to allege a coverup in the criminal tax fraud investigation of Hunter Biden, said Thursday in a Fox News interview that he believes Joe Biden’s mere presence during business interactions allowed his relatives to ink deals.
“What President Biden was basically doing through Hunter Biden was allowing Hunter Biden to get these deals where there’s no discernible actual product being produced, so it is really just a peddling of the influence,” said Shapley, who supervised the investigation for three years. “Merely sitting at a business meeting, at a lunch, having water, is all that Hunter Biden needed to use that influence.”