Under the terms of the arrangement, the gallery owner, Georges Bergès, will set the prices of the art himself, won’t disclose who bids on and purchases the paintings, and will reject offers that seem too high to just be for the art alone.
Still, ethics experts told The Post that the agreement falls into an ethical gray area because of the often-secretive nature of art purchases and how difficult it can be to trace who buys and sells expensive artwork. Importantly, they said, it doesn’t entirely preclude someone who wants to exert influence over the Biden White House from trying to do so via a painting.
Richard Painter, the former top White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, told The Post the whole thing is “a really bad idea.”
“The initial reaction a lot of people are going to have is that he’s capitalizing on being the son of a president and wants people to give him a lot of money. I mean, those are awfully high prices,” he said.
This is another ethical quandary the White House faces over Hunter’s business dealings and how they could influence the Biden administration. While no evidence emerged that Hunter’s work has unduly influenced his father, Hunter’s work for Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma Holdings drew scrutiny and was at the center of Trump’s first impeachment.
The latest development also comes as Republicans are gearing up to launch congressional investigations into Hunter if they retake the House majority in 2022, with high-profile acrimonious public hearings and probes, Insider reported.
The DOJ is said to be focused on Blue Star’s work with Burisma when President Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on Burisma’s board, the report said. There is no evidence that Hunter Biden is a target of the criminal investigation.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires that American citizens notify the Justice Department of any contacts they have with foreign governments or officials and whether they interact with the US government or media at the direction of those officials.
If Blue Star failed to disclose its work for Burisma, it could be a violation of FARA. According to Politico, the consulting firm did not mention in federal lobbying databases that it counted Burisma as a client.
There is nothing to suggest that Hunter Biden is being investigated, Politico reported, adding that one of Blue Star’s cofounders had testified that Biden did not direct any of her company’s work for Burisma. He served on the company’s board of directors from 2014 until April 2019.
Blue Star and the White House did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment. The DOJ declined to comment.
Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma was a central focus for Republicans seeking to discredit his father during the 2020 presidential campaign. The Senate Homeland Security Committee and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee released a joint report in November 2020 examining the Bidens’ ties to Ukrainian interests.
Both committees were controlled by Republicans at the time, and Sen. Ron Johnson, the chair of the homeland-security panel, publicly said he hoped his investigation would help then-President Donald Trump’s chances as he faced off against Biden in the general election. The 87-page report ultimately found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens.
In July 2019, Trump himself asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “look into” the Bidens’ activities, a move that led to Trump’s first impeachment by the House of Representatives.
Witnesses testified during Trump’s impeachment hearings that there was no evidence that Joe or Hunter Biden ran afoul of US laws or foreign policy when the younger Biden joined Burisma’s board, though the State Department official George Kent said the optics were questionable.
Hunter Biden is the focus of a separate, ongoing Justice Department investigation into his taxes and foreign business dealings. He revealed the existence of the inquiry in December.
“I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” he said in a statement on December 9. “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”
The Department of Justice is investigating a consulting firm that worked with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma when President Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on its board, Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman reported Thursday, citing four people with knowledge of the matter.
The DOJ is investigating whether Blue Star Strategies, a Washington, DC-headquartered firm, broke lobbying laws, Politico reported.
One point of investigation is whether Blue Star failed to disclose its work for Burisma under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires agents representing foreign powers to disclose their relationship to the federal government.
Politico reported that Blue Star did not disclose its work for Burisma in federal lobbying databases.
There is nothing to suggest that Hunter Biden is being investigated, Politico reported, adding that one of Blue Star’s cofounders had testified that Biden did not direct any of her company’s work for Burisma. Biden served on the Burisma’s board of directors from 2014 to April 2019.
Insider has contacted the Department of Justice, Blue Star Strategies, and the White House for comment.
Politico said that Blue Star, Hunter Biden, and a lawyer for Hunter Biden did not respond to the outlet’s requests for comment, while a Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
The Daily Mail claims that forensics experts have verified the authenticity of messages and images in a laptop containing lurid details of Hunter Biden’s private life.
DailyMail.com, the US-focused website run by the British tabloid, published a long article detailing the laptop’s contents on Thursday.
The laptop was the subject of intense controversy in the runup to the November presidential election, when The New York Post claimed that the laptop contained emails harmful to Joe Biden.
The Post claimed Biden – then the Democratic nominee for president – was compromised by his son’s business dealings in Ukraine, where he worked on the board of energy firm Burisma.
Other emails, said critics, contained evidence of influence-peddling by Hunter Biden in China. Neither claim was ever substantiated.
The story of how the Post and later the Mail obtained the machine is convoluted, with it having initially reportedly been abandoned in a Delaware computer shop then handed to allies of Donald Trump.
Amid doubts over the authenticity of the information, and briefings from US intelligence agencies that it was likely part of a Russian disinformation campaign, Facebook and Twitter introduced measures to stop it being shared.
But according to the Mail, the laptop is indeed Hunter Biden’s, and contains 103,000 text messages, 154,000 emails, and more than 2,000 photos.
The Mail said the contents were verified by cyber forensics experts at Maryman & Associates, a California-based company which says on its website has 20 years of experience.
The company claims to have matched contents of the laptop with email addresses, contents from an iPad, and an iPhone serial number connected to Biden.
Insider attempted to reach Hunter Biden for comment with emails to his attorney and book publishers, but did not immediately receive a response.
It contains details of messages from Hunter Biden about an incident in which the Secret Service got involved after he abandoned a firearm in a bin after an argument with Hallie Biden, the wife of his deceased brother Beau Biden, with whom he was having a relationship. The Secret Service denied any involvement in the incident.
The images were seized upon by Fox News hosts on Thursday night, who renewed their attacks on Hunter Biden and showed explicit stills from videos reportedly found on the laptop.
In an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Thursday to promote his book, Hunter Biden addressed some of the controversies, including the laptop. He has previously claimed that he doesn’t know if the device was his.
He said: “Now look, I really don’t know and the fact of the matter is, it’s a red herring. It is absolutely a red herring. But I am absolutely, I think, within my rights to question anything that comes from the desk of Rudy Giuliani. And so I don’t know is the answer.”
Giuliani has said that he played a part in getting the laptop to members of the media.
Last year Trump allies seized on an email in the laptop which appeared to show Hunter trying to broker a meeting between an associate at Burisma and Joe Biden while he was Barack Obama’s Vice President. No evidence has emerged to indicate the meeting ever took place.
Giuliani led a longstanding campaign to link Joe Biden to his son’s dealings in Ukraine. Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon was also said to be involved in handling the hard drive. It was then handed to the Post.
Hunter Biden has revealed that at the height of his addiction, he found himself picking through rugs, looking for and smoking “anything that even remotely resembled crack cocaine.”
In a televised interview with CBS News, Biden told correspondent Tracy Smith that he found himself “on his hands and knees picking through rugs,” and mistook granular substances like parmesan cheese for cocaine on more than one occasion.
“I probably smoked more parmesan cheese than anyone that you know,” Biden said, adding that he once went 13 days without sleeping, “smoking crack and drinking vodka exclusively throughout that entire time.”
Biden was talking to CBS about a passage in his new book, “Beautiful Things,” where he describes locking himself in his apartment in Washington DC, bingeing on crack cocaine with a homeless woman who had moved in with him and taught him how to get high. At one point, he details how he combed through the carpet for little remnants of cocaine to smoke that may or may not have actually been cheese.
“It didn’t matter,” he wrote. “I smoked it.”
Donald Trump Jr. quickly took to social media to troll Biden, posting an image of a lighter, a pipe, and a jar of parmesan cheese on his Instagram story.
“Parents, don’t let your kids do… um… parmesan,” Trump wrote on his Instagram story.
Hunter Biden is US President Joe Biden’s middle child and has been the subject of many personal scandals, exposés, and right-wing conspiracy theories. He was a prime target of the Trump family in the run-up to the 2020 election when he was accused of having dubious dealings with Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings.
Hunter Biden has reignited a long-standing feud with the Trump children, calling them out for “(reaping) the benefits of their family name.”
In his new memoir, “Beautiful Things,” Biden calls the Trump kids – Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump – out for not being able to get a job outside of their father’s business.
“I’ve worked for someone other than my father, rose and fell on my own,” Biden wrote.
He acknowledged that his own last name was a “coveted credential,” but accused the former president’s children of suggesting that their millions were self-made, and not benefits of carrying the Trump family name.
“Do you think if any of the Trump children ever tried to get a job outside of their father’s business that his name wouldn’t figure into the calculation? My response has always been to work harder so that my accomplishments stand on their own,” Biden said.
Biden described his father’s embrace. “[He] gave a bear hug, and he said – and just cried, and said – ‘I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. Please’.”
In his first interview since his father took office, the president’s second-oldest son told CBS News what he thought of Biden’s pleas.
“I thought: ‘I need to figure out a way to tell him that I’m gonna do something, so that I can go take another hit.’ It’s the only thing I could think. Literally,” he said. “That’s how powerful. I don’t know of a force more powerful than my family’s love…except addiction.”
Hunter Biden said that this scenario was “the hardest part of the book to write,” referring to his newly released memoir.
In “Beautiful Things,” he shares candid details of his struggle to become sober. At one point in his drug and alcohol spiral, Biden reveals he was smoking crack cocaine every 15 minutes.
He writes about spending a month in a Washington apartment bingeing on vodka while his father was vice president, The New York Times reported.
Biden’s son also credits his wife, Melissa Cohen, for helping him reach sobriety, The Times reported.
Just a day after the inauguration of the country’s 46th president, GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene announced she would be introducing articles of impeachment against Joe Biden.
In a statement released on Thursday, Greene, who represents Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, said: “President Joe Biden is unfit to hold the office of the Presidency. His pattern of abuse of power as President Obama’s Vice President is lengthy and disturbing.”
Greene then went on to claim that Biden had committed to quid pro quo with Ukrainian officials while he was Vice President in order to help his son “siphon cash from America’s greatest enemies Russian and China.”
Greene said Biden should be impeached for “enabling bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors, by allowing his son to influence the domestic policy of a foreign nation and accept various benefits – including financial compensation – from foreign nationals in exchange for certain favors.”
Biden’s ties to Russia and, in particular, the energy company Burisma became one of the Trump campaign’s major talking points during the debates, especially after the New York Post published a dubious story alleging his son Hunter Biden had made deals with the Russian government over access to his father when he was vice president. (The messages at the center of the Post’s claims were never substantiated.)
Along with filing the articles of impeachment, Greene has asked supporters to text and sign a petition and donate funds to her impeachment filing, though language on the donations page specifies that the donations are being made to “Greene for Congress” and “will be used in connection with federal elections.”
Both houses of Congress are currently controlled by Democrats, making it unlikely that Greene’s impeachment push will move forward.
Greene has been in Congress for less than a month but has already been at the center of several controversies. She refused to put her mask on during her January 4 swearing-in ceremony and left the House floor, which caused a screaming match between Democratic and Republican staffers. Greene wore a “Trump Won” mask to the event.
On Sunday, Greene’s Twitter was suspended for 12 hours after she suggested in a now-deleted tweet that Trump supporters “mobilize and make your voices heard in opposition to these attacks on our liberties” ahead of Biden’s inauguration.
Greene is one of two members of Congress – along with Colorado Rep. Laura Boebert – who has expressed support for QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory that alleges President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a “deep state” cabal of pedophiles.
Greene’s support of QAnon, according to Media Matters, dates back to 2018 – though, in recent months, she claims to have distanced herself from the group.
Emails to Greene’s office were not immediately returned.
President-elect Joe Biden has not yet selected his nominee for attorney general but will not ask candidates for the position about their plans surrounding any investigations into his son, Hunter, incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday on Fox News.
When Attorney General Bill Barr leaves the White House this week, he will be replaced for the remainder of Trump’s term by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
According to a previous report from the Associated Press, Trump has floated the idea of firing Rosen should he refuse to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden.
Rosen has previously declined to comment whether or not he’s interested in pursuing an investigation into the president-elect’s son.
President-elect Joe Biden has not yet selected the person he will nominate to serve as attorney general in his administration, but he will not ask candidates about their intent to investigate his son, Hunter Biden, incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday.
“He will not be discussing an investigation of his son with any attorney general candidates,” Psaki told Chris Wallace during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday. “He will not be discussing it with anyone he is considering for the role and he will not be discussing it with a future attorney general.”
She added: “It will be up to the purview of an attorney general in his administration to determine how to handle any investigation. As you know, U.S. attorneys, that’s a personnel decision, we’re far from there at this point in the process.”
Biden has already announced a number of appointees to his administration, including people he hopes will fill high-level positions like Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense. Biden cannot officially make any nominations until after he is inaugurated in January and his nominees will also need to be confirmed by the Senate.
Throughout his failed bid for re-election, Trump and his allies attempted to undermine Biden by targeting his son, 50-year-old Hunter, leveraging theories and conspiracies against him, many relating to his work with the Ukrainian oil company Burisma.
Earlier in December, the president-elect’s son announced that his “tax affairs” were the focus of a federal criminal investigation, further raising questions about his father’s intent to take a hands-off approach to the dealings of the US Department of Justice. The investigation reportedly stemmed from a 2018 money-laundering investigation, The New York Times previously reported.
Rosen on Wednesday declined to stay publicly whether he will appoint a special counsel to investigate the president-elect’s son, saying he would continue “to do things on the merits and to do things on the basis of the law and the facts.”