AP’s shameless claim that Joe Biden never discussed Hunter’s business deals defies belief


Those of us who have written for years about the Hunter Biden scandal and the family’s influence-peddling operation routinely read media stories denying the facts and dismissing calls to investigate. This weekend, though, the Associated Press made a real whopper of a claim: that there is no evidence even suggesting President Joe Biden ever spoke to his son about his foreign dealings.

I’ve explained how the Bidens have succeeded in a Houdini-like trick in making this elephant of a scandal disappear from the public stage — by enlisting the media in the illusion. But this level of audience participation in the trick truly defies belief.

The Associated Press’ statement at this stage of the scandal was breathtaking but telling: “Joe Biden has said he’s never spoken to his son about his foreign business, and nothing the Republicans have put forth suggests otherwise.”

For years, the media have continued to boost President Biden’s repeated claim that “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.” At the outset, the press only had to suspend any disbelief that Biden could fly to China as vice president with his son on Air Force Two without discussing the latter’s planned business dealings on the trip.

Hunter Biden
There are emails from Ukrainian and other foreign clients thanking Hunter for arranging meetings with his father.
AFP via Getty Images/ Nicholas Kamm

Of course, the emails on Hunter’s laptop quickly refuted this claim. But the media buried the laptop story before the election or pushed the false claim that it was Russian disinformation.

President Biden’s denials continued even after the laptop revealed a voicemail he left Hunter specifically discussing coverage of those dealings: “Hey, pal, it’s Dad. It’s 8:15 on Wednesday night. If you get a chance just give me a call. Nothing urgent. I just wanted to talk to you. I thought the article released online, it’s going to be printed tomorrow in the Times, was good. I think you’re clear. And anyway if you get a chance give me a call, I love you.”

But who are you going to believe, the media or your own ears?

Some of us have written for two years that Biden’s denial of knowledge is patently false. It was equally evident the Biden family was selling influence and access.

There are emails from Ukrainian and other foreign clients thanking Hunter for arranging meetings with his father. There are photos from dinners and meetings that tie Joe to these figures, including a 2015 dinner with a group of Hunter’s Russian and Kazakh clients.

People were told to avoid directly referring to Joe. In one email, Hunter associate James Gilliar instructed Tony Bobulinski, then a business partner of Hunter, not to speak of the former veep’s connection to any transactions: “Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u [sic] are face to face, I know u [sic] know that but they are paranoid.”

Instead, the emails apparently refer to Joe with code names such as “Celtic” and “the big guy.” In one, “the big guy” is mentioned as possibly receiving a 10% cut on a deal with a Chinese energy firm; other emails seem to note Hunter paying portions of his father’s expenses and taxes.

Bobulinski has given multiple interviews saying he met twice with Joe Biden to discuss a business deal in China with CEFC China Energy Co. That would seem obvious evidence. In addition, the New York Post reported on a key email that discussed “the proposed percentage distribution of equity in a company created for a joint venture with CEFC China Energy Co.” That was the March 13, 2017, email that talked of “10 held by H for the big guy.”

President Joe Biden
President Biden’s denials continued even after the laptop revealed a voicemail he left Hunter specifically discussing coverage of those dealings

The Associated Press later revised the line after an outcry from some of us. It now ends “there is no indication that the federal investigation involves the president.” The revision creates a new problem. Rather than simply stating the fact, AP seems to struggle to shield the president. There is every indication “the federal investigation involves the president.” Not only is the president discussed in key emails under investigation, but the grand jury heard testimony that the “big guy” is Joe Biden.

That brings us back to Houdini’s trick of making his 10,000 pound elephant Jennie disappear every evening in New York’s Hippodrome. He succeeded night after night — though Jennie never left the stage — because the audience wanted the elephant to disappear.

I’ve noted the key to the Bidens’ trick was involving the media so that reporters are invested in the illusion like audience members called to the stage. Journalists have to insist that there was nothing to see or they have to admit to being part of the original deception. The media cannot see the elephant without the public seeing something about the media in their past efforts to conceal it.

The media are so heavily invested in the trick that they are sticking with the illusion even after “the reveal.” The Associated Press story shows that even pointing at the elephant — heck, even riding the elephant around the stage — will not dislodge these denials. This is no elephant because there cannot be an elephant.

Jonathan Turley is an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School.


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