'This came directly from Hunter': Biden opens new front against Trump

  • In Politics
  • 2019-10-14 22:04:49Z
  • By Politico

After three weeks of sustained attacks from President Donald Trump over his son's overseas business deals, Joe Biden is no longer reacting with a mix of silence and counter-accusations.

The former vice president is rolling out a new ethics policy banning White House family members from foreign entanglements. His son, Hunter Biden, announced his resignation from a Chinese investment company and pledged to have no more business arrangements with foreign entities.

Hunter Biden is also taking on a higher profile. The former vice president's youngest son is about to enter the fray with a network TV interview to answer questions for the first time on camera about his foreign deals - primarily his consulting contract with a Ukrainian gas company, which has dogged the elder Biden as a candidate and as vice president in 2015.

Biden's new strategy, unveiled this weekend with a one-two punch by father and son, are part of an unfolding counteroffensive against the president. It's a gambit that coincides with the next presidential debate Tuesday, when ABC plans to unveil its exclusive interview with the son who will discuss Ukraine, China and Trump's personal attacks on him.

Biden's campaign - in keeping with its refusal to discuss the specifics of his son's business arrangements - would not comment on the record for this article or discuss the level of coordination between the Democratic candidate and his son.

"How, when and the substance of this came directly from Hunter," a campaign adviser, who did not want to be identified, said. "The campaign did not arrange this, but Hunter has been increasingly under attack in personal and vicious terms for the past couple of weeks from the President - all based on lies - and he made the decision to speak."

Trump's campaign, which has taken to deriding Biden as "Quid Pro Joe," mocked Biden's ethics proposal.

"Government reform is laughable coming from someone who spent the last 50 years in government enriching his family in the process," spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez said, crediting the president with "true reform" that "has revitalized the American economy and created over 6.5 million jobs since he was elected."

Trump has been reeling over the Ukraine scandal since Sept. 20, when news first broke that he may have improperly used U.S. aid as leverage to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens over Hunter Biden's work in the country. Trump now faces impeachment over his own alleged quid pro quo.

In August, when asked about potential conflicts of interest concerning his brother and son when he was vice president, the candidate said nothing improper happened.

"I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses. Period," Biden said in South Carolina.

Biden pledged that, as president, "what I will do is the same thing we did in our administration [when Barack Obama was president]. There will be an absolute wall between personal and private [business interests] and the government ... I'm going to propose the same kind of strict, strict rules. That's why I never talked with my son or my brother or anyone else - even distant family - about their business interests. Period."

But Biden went a step further on Sunday when he proposed a blanket ban on family members directly profiting off foreign deals if he's president, a stricter standard than existed during the Obama presidency in light of Hunter Biden's arrangements in Ukraine and China.

"No one in my family will have an office in the White House, will sit in on meetings as if they are a cabinet member, will, in fact, have any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or a foreign country. Period. Period. End of story," Biden told reporters in Iowa.

Biden's new policy also brings him in line with other Democratic candidates who said a president's family members shouldn't profit in overseas business dealings.

Biden's comments also signaled that he may open a new front against President Trump's children who are involved in overseas business deals - which an adviser said recently is "not off the table."

On Monday morning, Biden's campaign released a new ethics proposal for an "Ethics in Government Act" that obliquely referenced Trump's children.

"Candidates and public officials often transfer assets into trusts controlled by family members or close friends, and then disclose just the existence of the trust rather than the assets it holds," Biden's proposal said. "This loophole has allowed many senior officials - including President Trump - to avoid disclosing significant financial interests."

Paving the way for his father's new ethics policies and positions, Hunter Biden on Sunday morning announced via his attorney, George Mesires, that he would step down from the board of a Chinese company. Before his father announced his candidacy, Hunter Biden's attorney said in his written statement that his client resigned from the natural gas company Burisma in Ukraine at the center of the scandal engulfing Trump.

Mesires said Hunter Biden would not work for overseas interests if his dad becomes president.

"Hunter makes the following commitment: Under a Biden Administration, Hunter will readily comply with any and all guidelines or standards a President Biden may issue to address purported conflicts of interest, or the appearance of such conflicts, including any restrictions related to overseas business interests," Mesires said. "In any event, Hunter will agree not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign owned companies."


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