Biden won’t ask his attorney general candidates about potential investigations into his son, Hunter

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the Electoral College vote certification process at The Queen theater on December 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

  • 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. 
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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. 

Biden has also named a number of other officials who will work in his administration. At a press conference Saturday, the president-elect named a team of individuals leading his administration’s charge against climate change.

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: Jared Kushner helped create a Trump campaign shell company that secretly paid the president’s family members and spent $617 million in reelection cash, a source tells Insider

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.

More recently, Trump has reportedly expressed interest in pressuring the attorney general to nominate a special counsel to investigate the president-elect’s son. On December 14, Trump announced that Attorney General William Barr would resign from his position, which he has held since 2019, on December 23. During Trump’s final weeks in office, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen will serve as acting attorney general. 

Barr reportedly knew about the criminal investigations into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings prior to the November election but kept them from the public, reportedly drawing ire from the president.

Last week, The Associated Press reported that Trump would consider firing Rosen if he did not announce special counsel investigations into the president-elect’s son relating to his taxes and Trump’s baseless allegations over voter fraud in the 2020 election.

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.” 

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Trump is already considering on axing his new attorney general if he won’t go along with a special counsel probe into Hunter Biden

Trump/Barr
Trump makes a statement with Attorney General William Barr in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019 in Washington, DC.

  • Trump has discussed with top aides the prospect of replacing Jeffrey Rosen, who is set to replace Attorney General Bill Barr next week, reported the Associated Press. 
  • The president is reportedly determined that Rosen appoint special counsels to investigate Hunter Biden’s tax affairs and baseless election fraud allegations. 
  • If Rosen does not comply, then Trump could force him out, according to the report. 
  • Barr was previously considered one of Trump’s staunchest loyalists, but their relationship soured.
  • It was reported last week that Barr had not revealed during the election that Hunter Biden was under investigation by authorities in Delaware. 
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President Donald Trump has already discussed sacking Jeffrey Rosen, who is set to replace Attorney General Bill Barr next week, reported the Associated Press. 

Trump is discussing removing Rosen if he does not comply with his demands and appoint a special counsel to probe Hunter Biden’s tax affairs and the president’s groundless election fraud claims, Trump administration and Republican sources close to the White House told the agency.  

Trump has already talked through the move with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and attorney Pat Cipollone, according to the report. 

Rosen is supposed to replace Barr, who announced his resignation Monday, as effectively a stopgap justice department chief until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in eight weeks and appoints a successor. 

Jeffrey Rosen
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen holds a news conference at the Justice Department on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC.

According to the report, Trump has even discussed with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, whether he can appoint special counsel investigators himself, believing it would damage the incoming Biden administration. 

The White House and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report. 

Rosen has served as Barr’s deputy at the justice department since 2019. 

Barr was previously considered one of Trump’s staunchest loyalists. Still, their relationship soured when the Wall St Journal revealed last week that Barr was aware that Hunter Biden was under investigation for potential tax fraud crimes by authorities in Delaware for months.

Trump was reportedly furious that Barr had not gone public with the information during the presidential election. One of Trump’s main lines of attack against his rival was Hunter Biden’s employment by Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, which he alleged was evidence of Biden family corruption. 

No evidence has emerged to substantiate the allegations against Hunter Biden. However, as part of the US attorney’s investigations into his tax affairs, he has been subpoenaed for information about his work with Burisma. 

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Trump reportedly asked his lawyer if he could personally appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden before leaving office

trump thanksgiving
President Trump is seen at the White House on November 26, 2020.

  • President Donald Trump is considering personally appointing a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden in the waning weeks of his presidency, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
  • Trump consulted White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and others on the possibility of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Biden, whose business dealings in Ukraine were at the center of the president’s impeachment.
  • The report comes on the heels of Trump announcing Monday that outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr will be leaving the Justice Department before Christmas.
  • Trump was unhappy with Barr for not publicly announcing a federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes, and later for saying the DOJ and the FBI found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, contradicting baseless conspiracy theories from the president and his allies.
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President Donald Trump asked his lawyer if he could personally appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden in the waning weeks of his presidency, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Trump brought up the matter of appointing a special counsel to investigate the son of President-elect Joe Biden to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, and others, Trump officials and Republicans close to the White House told the AP.

The sources also told the AP that Trump is considering appointing a special counsel to investigate his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.

Representatives from the White House did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.

The report comes on the heels of Trump announcement Monday that outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr will be leaving the Justice Department before Christmas. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen will be acting attorney general in Barr’s absence.

Read more: Trump announces Attorney General William Barr will be leaving the Justice Department before Christmas

Trump was unhappy with Barr for not publicly announcing a federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes, according to the AP report. The president was also displeased with Barr, saying that the Justice Department and the FBI didn’t find evidence of widespread voter fraud, contradicting Trump’s election-related conspiracy theories.

Rosen said he was “honored” to fulfill the role as the nation’s top cop and said he “will continue to focus on the implementation of the Department’s key priorities.”

The question remains if the acting attorney general will succumb to the pressure from the president to carry out investigations into his political opponents as Trump enters his final few weeks in office. The president “has even asked his team of lawyers, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, to look into whether the president has the power to appoint a special counsel himself,” citing the AP report.

If the probe were to be taken up by the Justice Department under the Trump administration, it would likely be “a more prolonged and complicated investigation” than the current probe into Hunter Biden’s taxes, the AP reported.

The investigation could extend past Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, which would then place the onus upon the incoming administration to keep Rosen or appoint another attorney general. The attorney general reserves the power to terminate special counsel investigations – but only “for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty or conflict of interest,” according to the AP.

Read the full story at the AP »

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Hunter Biden told to disclose information related to Ukrainian energy company Burisma as part of his tax investigation

hunter biden
World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden speaks at the World Food Program USA’s Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC.

  • Hunter Biden has been asked to provide information related to his work at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma as part of the DOJ tax investigation, a source involved in the process told the Associated Press.
  • The president-elect’s second son has also been asked to provide documents relating to his business dealings with China and other financial transactions. 
  • It is not clear whether the younger Biden’s work at the Ukrainian company is a central part of the tax investigation.
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A subpoena issued this week asks Hunter Biden to disclose information relating to his work on the board of the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, a source involved in the DOJ tax investigation told the Associated Press.

Prosecutors have also asked for documents relating to more than two dozen entities linked to the President-elect’s son, including business dealings with China.

The subpoena comes as Joe Biden’s second son confirmed he was under federal investigation for his financial dealings earlier this week.

It is not clear whether the younger Biden’s work at the Ukrainian company is a central part of the investigation or whether prosecutors are only looking to collect information about all of his income sources in recent years, AP reported.

Hunter Biden said on Tuesday that he is taking the inquiry “very seriously” and is “confident” he handled his affairs “legally and appropriately,” according to Vox.

The investigation was reportedly first opened in late 2018 as a money-laundering probe but is now focusing more on potential violations of tax law.

Details of the subpoena emerged after reports that Hunter Biden’s former business partner at Berisma sent him an email in 2017 alleging that he did not disclose a $400,000 payment received from the company on his tax returns.

“In 2014 you joined the Burisma board and we still need to amend your 2014 returns to reflect the unreported Burisma income,” the email, dated January 16, 2017, said, according to NBC News.

The business partner notes that the younger Biden netted more than $1.2 million for the year.

Hunter Biden signed on as a board member of Burisma Holdings in May 2014, with a press release announcing he would be in charge of the company’s international legal relations with different companies. He later denied this description. 

The appointment came during an intense time between the White House and Russia over Ukraine and its energy dependence.

The younger Biden has not been charged with any criminal activity, and the president-elect is not known to be a subject of interest in the tax probes. 

The younger Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, did not immediately respond comment for this story and a spokesman for the Biden transition team declined to comment.

Biden’s son was a major topic amid chaotic discourse during the first Trump-Biden debate, Trump mentioned his business dealings, including his connections with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings and profiting in China while his father was vice president.

Hunter was previously at the center of Trump’s Ukraine scandal that launched the impeachment inquiry.

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Trump discussed the possibility of firing Attorney General William Barr during a Friday meeting: report

GettyImages-william-barr
Attorney General William Barr.

  • President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of firing Attorney General William Barr during a Friday meeting, according to a CNN report.
  • There are no indications of whether the president will follow through with such an action before his term ends in January.
  • Trump is reportedly livid that Barr kept the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes under wraps during the 2020 presidential campaign.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump discussed the possibility of firing Attorney General William Barr during a Friday meeting at the White House, but there are no indications of whether he’ll follow through with such an action before his term ends in January, according to a CNN report.

In a meeting with advisors, Trump was reportedly livid that Barr reportedly kept the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes under wraps during the 2020 presidential campaign, according to CNN.

Hunter, the son of President-elect Joe Biden, was a constant source of conservative attacks during the presidential campaign, with many in the Trump orbit relentlessly accusing him of having sought business deals while his father was vice president, despite lacking any verifiable evidence.

Trump was also reportedly angered that Barr was considering leaving his position before Trump’s term in office was complete, according to CNN.

In early December, the president’s displeasure with Barr reached a boiling point, with advisors pleading with him to keep Barr on board. 

On Saturday morning, Trump took to Twitter to complain about Barr’s tenure, calling him “a big disappointment.”

The president also publicly called out Barr for not disclosing the Hunter Biden investigation before the election.

“Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden,” he tweeted. “Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was wrong, or going on – Press confirmed. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!”

Barr has served as Attorney General since February 2019, succeeding Jeff Sessions, who had a tumultuous tenure after recusing himself from the Russia investigation and drawing the enduring ire of Trump. He previously served in the role under then-President George H.W. Bush from November 1991 to January 1993.

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Trump wants a special counsel to investigate purported election fraud and Hunter Biden allegations, report says

Donald Trump wildcard
US President Donald Trump.

  • President Donald Trump wants a special counsel to investigate unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter and election fraud related to the 2020 presidential race, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Senior White House officials are also said to be interested in the appointment of a special counsel to investigate allegations surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
  • Trump’s focus on a special counsel comes as federal judges across the country, as well as the Supreme Court, reject dozens of Republican legal challenges seeking to overthrow the election results.
  • Justice Department rules say the attorney general can appoint a special counsel, but it’s unclear if Attorney General Barr will do so given his own pronouncement that the department did not uncover evidence of widespread fraud in the election.
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President Donald Trump has expressed interest in the appointment of a special counsel tasked with investigating unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter and election fraud in the 2020 presidential race, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Since losing the election, Trump, his legal team, GOP lawmakers, and media loyalists have leveled hundreds of baseless and incoherent claims that Democrats conspired with election officials, “big media,” and dead communist dictators to win the White House while simultaneously losing key downballot races.

To that end, the Trump campaign and Republican officials have filed nearly 40 legal challenges seeking to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. They haven’t won a single case.

The Supreme Court also recently rejected a brazen and legally dubious lawsuit from Texas asking to throw out the election results in four states Trump lost: Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Three days earlier, the high court denied Pennsylvania Republicans’ request to decertify Biden’s victory in the state.

According to The Journal, Trump has asked advisors in recent days to look into potential candidates to serve as special counsel. The report said senior White House officials have also expressed interest in the appointment of a special counsel to investigate allegations surrounding Biden’s son, Hunter.

The younger Biden has not been charged with any criminal activity but is the focus of federal tax investigations from the Delaware and Manhattan US attorneys’ offices. The probes were initially broader in scope and looked into Biden’s foreign ties and possible money laundering, but the money laundering investigation has since fizzled out from a lack of evidence, and the inquiry now primarily focuses on Biden’s taxes.

Under Justice Department guidelines, the attorney general has the power to appoint a special counsel, though it’s unclear whether Attorney General William Barr will capitulate to Trump’s demands given his own announcement that the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud in the election.

Barr has been in Trump’s doghouse for months after failing to deliver on politically motivated investigations targeting the Bidens and former Obama officials before the election to give Trump a boost in the polls.

After Trump lost, Barr again inflamed the president’s temper when he told The Associated Press that the Justice Department did not have evidence that there was nationwide voter fraud, a direct and public rebuke of the president’s claims to the contrary.

And on Friday, Trump was furious over a separate Journal report the previous evening that said Barr had known about the Hunter Biden tax investigations for months before the election but had worked to keep them under wraps, in accordance with department rules to prohibit prosecutors from taking overt investigative steps that could alter the outcome of an election.

The Journal reported that Trump once again mused about firing Barr during the Friday meeting but was eventually talked out of it. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Hunter Biden tax probes are a ‘stark litmus test’ to see if Joe Biden ‘can keep his hands off’ the Justice Department

joe and hunter biden
Joe Biden, right, and his son Hunter, left, are seen above in April 2016.

  • President-elect Joe Biden has promised to restore independence and public trust in the Justice Department upon taking office and wall himself off from any civil or criminal investigations.
  • Now, that pledge faces its biggest test as federal prosecutors scrutinize Biden’s son, Hunter, over his financial dealings.
  • “It’s not just an associate of Joe Biden that we’re talking about here,” said one former federal prosecutor. “This is his son. So the proof is in the pudding on this one, on if Joe Biden can keep his hands off the Justice Department.”
  • Trumpworld seized on news of the Hunter Biden tax investigations to heap credibility on a widely discredited New York Post story about a mysterious laptop and the Bidens’ Ukraine ties.
  • But DOJ veterans warned against conflating the tax probes with the Post’s allegations.
  • “If Hunter Biden didn’t pay his taxes, that’s serious and he should be investigated for that. But that doesn’t mean there’s some sort of international cabal run by Joe Biden,” said one former prosecutor. “Only a lazy mind makes that kind of a leap.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Weeks before President-elect Joe Biden is set to be sworn into office, his son announced that he is the focus of a federal criminal investigation into his “tax affairs.” Hunter Biden’s announcement came after CNN reached out to the transition team for comment when it learned that federal prosecutors were probing the younger Biden’s financial dealings.

Subsequent media reports said the investigation was broader in scope than Hunter Biden initially indicated, with The New York Times revealing that the tax probe grew out of what started off as a money laundering investigation in late 2018.

Politico also reported, citing one source, that in addition to Delaware prosecutors, the securities fraud unit at the Manhattan US attorney’s office investigated Hunter Biden’s finances, and as of early 2019, prosecutors in both Delaware and Washington, DC, were examining possible foreign ties and money laundering.

The Times reported that the money laundering inquiry has since fizzled out from a lack of evidence, but that investigators with the Internal Revenue Service are continuing to scrutinize Hunter Biden’s taxes.

The biggest question since the news dropped is how the investigation into his son may complicate the early months of the elder Biden’s presidency, particularly given his pledge to restore independence and trust in the Justice Department following a period of extraordinary politicization under the Trump administration.

A ‘stark litmus test’ for Joe Biden

“I’m not going to be telling them what they have to do and don’t have to do. I’m not going to be saying go prosecute A, B or C,” Biden told CNN last week. “It’s not my Justice Department. It’s the people’s Justice Department.”

Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the Justice Department and has a background in white-collar criminal cases, told Business Insider that the investigation into Hunter Biden will be a “stark litmus test” for the incoming president.

“It’s not just an associate of Joe Biden that we’re talking about here,” Cramer said. “This is his son. So the proof is in the pudding on this one, on if Joe Biden can keep his hands off the Justice Department.”

Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, echoed that view, telling Business Insider that ideally, the Hunter Biden probe shouldn’t pose any complications for the Biden presidency.

“If he was sincere about his promise not to interfere, then this will be the first test of that,” he aid. “And if he meant what he said, then he will be hands-off and he will make clear to those around him and to whomever he chooses as the attorney general that they should make decisions and handle this, and that the White House will not have any communications with the department about it. So we’ll see if they stand by that.”

The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hunter Biden’s tax issues and foreign dealings draw scrutiny

The younger Biden has not been charged in any criminal activity, and the president-elect is not known to be a subject of interest in the tax probe. Joe Biden also said last year that if he were elected president, he would not place his family members in government roles, as President Donald Trump did.

That said, Hunter Biden has faced a series of legal issues related to his taxes and questions about his foreign business dealings.

“Putting politics aside, it’s a fact that Hunter Biden was earning money from foreign companies,” Cramer said. “He also had a series of tax-related legal problems, though he wasn’t criminally charged. So it’s not surprising that prosecutors would be looking into him. And you have to say that if you’re Hunter Biden, you’re in an unenviable position right now.”

What we know about the Hunter Biden’s financial dealings

  • In 2017, Hunter Biden and his then-wife Kathleen hadn’t paid $313,970 in taxes, and the IRS issued a lien against the couple for $112,805 in unpaid taxes the following year. By that point, Hunter and Kathleen Biden had divorced, and the taxes appear to have been paid off by March 2020.
  • In July, Washington, DC, issued liens against Biden for more than $450,000 in unpaid taxes in 2017 and 2018. Those taxes appear to have been paid off the following week, when the liens were released, according to tax records reviewed by The Times.
  • Until 2019, he served on the board of the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings and was paid up to $50,000 per month for the role. George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing Ukraine policy, testified to Congress that he raised concerns about the optics of Hunter Biden working for Burisma while the Obama administration was focusing on getting the Ukrainian government to avoid conflicts of interest, but that he was rebuffed by one of then-vice president Biden’s staffers.
    • There was nothing illegal about Hunter Biden’s position at Burisma and there is no evidence that he leveraged his father’s government role to protect himself when the company was being investigated. But Biden later acknowledged that he may have shown “poor judgment” by taking the job.
  • Hunter Biden and some of his associates, including his uncle James, also discussed making a business deal with the Chinese company CEFC China Energy in 2017, though the negotiations fell through before a deal was finalized. Hunter Biden told The New Yorker that he met with the founder and former chairman of CEFC, Ye Jianming, that year and that Ye later sent a 2.8 karat diamond to his hotel room as a gift.
    • Hunter Biden told The New Yorker that the situation made him uncomfortable, adding, “I knew it wasn’t a good idea to take it. I just felt like it was weird.”
  • The New York Times reported that Hunter Biden invested in and previously sat on the board of a Chinese equity firm called BHR, which has said its biggest shareholder is the state-controlled Bank of China. Biden resigned from his board position in April but still held a 10% stake in the company as of July.

For a typical tax case, two years may be considered a long time. But because Hunter Biden engaged in a significant number of international business ventures, the timeline could be different.

“Investigations that involve foreign countries and foreign entities naturally take longer because you have to go through an arduous bureaucratic process called the MLAT process,” Honig said, referring to mutual legal assistance treaties. “It’s burdensome and it requires a whole bunch of paperwork in order to serve and effectuate subpoenas in foreign countries.”

Cramer agreed, saying that because the case involves foreign monies, a lengthier timeline is expected because in order to prove such cases, prosecutors need to obtain financial records from different jurisdictions. “It’s harder to get records from overseas than it is from domestic companies,” he said.

Trumpworld seizes on the Hunter Biden probes

President Donald Trump and the right-wing media sphere seized on news of the Hunter Biden tax probe as soon as it broke this week, with many suggesting that it lent credibility to an earlier New York Post story about a laptop purportedly belonging to the younger Biden containing incriminating material about his personal life and business dealings.

The pro-Trump Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham ran a chyron on her Wednesday night program that read, “Hunter Biden Caught In a Lie Over His China Dealing.”

Fox News ran another op-ed accusing the “liberal media” of having “snuffed out” coverage of Hunter Biden before the election to deliver the White House to the elder Biden.

“In the final weeks of the campaign, there was an unprecedented media blackout of the explosive reporting from the New York Post that shed light on Hunter Biden’s questionable business dealings overseas,” Fox News’ Brian Flood wrote. “The scandal that was once dismissed by members of the media as ‘too disgusting’ to cover and a ‘baseless conspiracy theory’ now appears to be newsworthy in the eyes of the networks’ decision-makers.”

Ohio Republican congressman Jim Jordan made a similar comparison, accusing the media of telling the public that the “Hunter Biden story was Russian disinformation.”

 

‘Only a lazy mind makes that kind of a leap’

Former prosecutors said they weren’t surprised by Trumpworld’s conflation of the Hunter Biden tax investigations and the Post’s story.

However, the former has been matched by multiple credible news sources and confirmed by Biden himself, while the latter relied on a thumb drive provided to the Post by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer who has spent the last several years meeting with Russian intelligence operatives, spreading conspiracy theories on national television, and more recently, trying to overturn the results of the election.

The FBI seized the laptop at the center of the Post’s story in late 2019, according to a computer repair shop owner who talked to the right-wing tabloid. And NBC News later reported that the FBI is investigating whether the laptop was part of a foreign influence operation. But there is no evidence that the machine is connected to the two tax investigations into Hunter Biden.

“It’s one thing to suggest that someone may have – and we don’t even know if this is true because there haven’t been criminal charges – but that someone may have broken tax laws, and it’s another to say there’s some sort of international conspiracy taking place involving Joe Biden,” Cramer said. “That’s a huge jump. If Hunter Biden didn’t pay his taxes, that’s serious and he should be investigated for that. But that doesn’t mean there’s some sort of international cabal run by Joe Biden. Only a lazy mind makes that kind of a leap.”

There are several other reasons why details of the tax investigations into Hunter Biden should be taken more seriously than the Post’s reporting, experts said.

For one, Honig pointed to media reports that said the first investigation started in late 2018, before Attorney General William Barr was confirmed to lead the Justice Department. Barr has been at the center of several controversial decisions that sparked allegations that he was showing leniency toward the president’s friends while wielding the department as a sword against Trump’s foes. But he doesn’t appear to have been involved in launching the Hunter Biden investigations.

More importantly, Honig added, the Justice Department adhered to the longstanding rule against making public announcements or taking overt, investigative steps on politically sensitive cases before an election.

“If DOJ really had bad intentions here, then they could have violated that rule,” he said. “They could have put out a search warrant or made an announcement in the weeks leading up to the election. And the fact that they didn’t – that’s a good thing.”

Indeed, CNN reported that the Hunter Biden inquiries were temporarily paused in the run-up to the election. And in a remarkable twist, The Wall Street Journal reported that Barr himself knew of the existence of the investigations in the months before the election but worked to keep them under wraps.

The news earned Barr rare praise from Justice Department veterans who had sounded the alarm about his leadership for months. But it likely won’t win him any points from the president, who has expressed deep frustration toward the attorney general for not undertaking politically motivated investigations against his rivals to help him win reelection.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly knew about the Hunter Biden tax probes for months but kept them under wraps before the election

william barr
US Attorney General William Barr arrives for the event where US President Donald Trump signs an executive order on police reform, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2020.

  • Attorney General William Barr knew about two criminal investigations into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings for months before the general election but kept them from the public, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The news is a remarkable twist in Barr’s tenure as President Donald Trump’s attorney general, during which he repeatedly took steps to benefit the president and feed into his conspiracy theories.
  • According to The Journal, Barr knew about the Biden tax investigations since at least the spring but tried to keep them under wraps in accordance with Justice Department rules that prevent prosecutors from taking overt investigative steps that could affect the outcome of an election.
  • Thursday’s report will likely infuriate Trump, who has been frustrated with Barr in recent months and came close to firing him on several occasions before aides talked the president out of it.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Attorney General William Barr knew for months about two investigations into Hunter Biden’s financial activity but worked to shield them from the public, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.

The news is a remarkable twist in Barr’s tenure as President Donald Trump’s attorney general, during which time he repeatedly took steps to aid the president and feed into his talking points about the Russia investigation, the Obama administration, and the 2020 election.

Barr’s reported attempts to keep the Hunter Biden probes from becoming public were in accordance with Justice Department rules that restrict prosecutors from taking public investigative steps that could affect the outcome of an election. President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 general election, notching 306 Electoral College votes compared with Trump’s 232.

Hunter Biden announced that he was being investigated on Wednesday after CNN reached out to the Biden transition team when it learned that the younger Biden was the subject of criminal inquiries into his finances.

“I learned yesterday for the first time that the US Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” Hunter Biden said in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”

Subsequent media reports said the investigation was broader in scope than Hunter Biden initially indicated, with The New York Times revealing that the tax probe grew out of what started off as a money-laundering investigation in late 2018. Politico also reported, citing one source, that in addition to Delaware prosecutors, the securities fraud unit at the Manhattan US attorney’s office investigated Hunter Biden’s finances, and as of early 2019, prosecutors in both Delaware and Washington, DC, were examining possible foreign ties and money laundering.

The Times reported that the money laundering inquiry has since fizzled out from a lack of evidence, but that investigators with the Internal Revenue Service are continuing to scrutinize Hunter Biden’s taxes.

The younger Biden has not been charged in any criminal activity related to the investigations or prior inquiries. The president-elect is also not a subject of interest in the probes focusing on his son.

Thursday’s reporting from The Journal about Barr’s role in keeping the Hunter Biden investigations from the public will likely infuriate the president, who has been frustrated with the attorney general in recent weeks and was on the brink of firing him several times before aides talked Trump out of it.

The Justice Department declined to comment to The Journal, and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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