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Here’s why Kevin Morris says he paid Hunter Biden’s back taxes

Morris said getting back taxes straight is often "part of recovery" for his clients and that he was not trying to help Joe Biden politically, according to a full transcript of his House testimony.
Image: Hunter Biden
Hunter Biden, flanked by Kevin Morris, left, and Abbe Lowell at a House Oversight Committee meeting Jan. 10.Kent Nishimura / Getty Images

In an interview with House lawmakers and investigators last week, entertainment lawyer Kevin Morris, Hunter Biden’s financial benefactor, portrayed himself as someone who helped the younger Biden because he was moved by his struggles, not by a desire to help then-candidate Joe Biden win the presidency.

On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee released the transcript of Morris’ almost six-hour interview with the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry into the president. The transcript provides the most detailed descriptions to date of how Morris met Hunter Biden, the more than $5 million in loans he gave him to cover expenses and pay his outstanding tax liabilities, as well as Morris' purchases of Hunter Biden’s art.

“I saw a guy, you know, that was from home, could have been my friend,” Morris said. “He was getting — in my opinion, getting the s*** beat out of him by the world. I found that he had … worrisome lack of support. And he was an individual — and I believe, and still believe today he’s a very good person and a great guy. And, you know, that’s why I decided to step in.”

The transcript was released just five days after Morris’ appearance before the committees. After Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., sent out a press release describing the testimony, an attorney for Morris sent a letter to Comer alleging that the chairman had mischaracterized his client's testimony.

Morris said that he was first introduced to Hunter Biden in Brentwood, California, at a 2019 fundraiser for Biden's presidential campaign, held at the home of producer Lanette Phillips, who later asked through a mutual acquaintance if Morris would meet with Hunter Biden because he had some “entertainment-ish” issues, in his words. Morris began representing Hunter Biden after a five-hour conversation at the latter's home, and started loaning him money about six weeks later.

The loans were not made in the form of cash to Hunter Biden, but were largely direct payments to third parties. They included payments to the IRS for back taxes owed for the years 2016 through 2019, rent on a house, legal fees for other attorneys, payments to Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, child support and outstanding payments for a Porsche.

Morris testified that the loans were made in part to help Hunter Biden maintain his sobriety, and that past clients with addiction issues historically have had issues with their taxes.

"It’s my custom and practice to get the taxes straight. It’s a part of — that’s part of recovery, making amends. It’s critical," he said.

When they began making the loans, they documented the retainer agreement for legal representation but not a written loan agreement. Morris testified that the loans would often occur before a written agreement was in place, but that lawyers later drafted promissory notes for the money that included interest, terms and default provisions. The money is due back to Morris in 2025.

Morris said that he has purchased 13 of Hunter Biden’s paintings to date for almost $1 million. He said that for 11 of those paintings — purchased last January — he paid the art gallerists' commission fee directly but hasn’t yet paid the balance of $525,000 to Hunter Biden because he is still discussing next steps with tax advisers.

After last week’s interview, Comer said that Morris’ support “raises ethical and campaign finance concerns for President Joe Biden” and said Morris began paying Hunter Biden’s taxes “to insulate then-presidential candidate Joe Biden from political liability.” Morris testified that $170,000 was paid while Joe Biden was a presidential candidate, the rest after the elder Biden was in office.

On Tuesday, the House Oversight Committee again said, via X, that “Morris’s massive financial support to Hunter Biden raises ethical and campaign finance concerns for President Joe Biden.”

But in his testimony, Morris denied the notion that his actions were tied to politics.

“With respect to the loans, I am confident that Hunter will repay,” Morris testified. “I did not and do not have any expectations of receiving anything from Hunter’s father or the Biden administration in exchange from helping Hunter, nor have I asked for anything from President Biden or his administration. My only goal was and is to help my friend and client."

Comer also said that Morris gained access to the White House after making the loans, though Morris testified he has visited the White House just three times and had two extremely brief interactions — one in which the president made a joke about his hair, and another time when he exchanged a quick hello with the president as a guest at the wedding of Naomi Biden, Hunter Biden’s daughter. Morris said he never discussed Hunter Biden’s business ventures, loans to him or art purchases with the president.

“I’m not very popular at the White House” Morris said at one point, after stating he had not had any communication with White House officials.

Republicans have also focused on an email exchange dated Feb. 7, 2020, between Morris and accountants who helped prepare Hunter Biden’s filings. In it, Morris wrote, “Still need to file Monday — we are under considerable risk personally and politically to get the returns in.”

Morris testified that the political risk he was referring to was the fact that Hunter Biden could be called to testify in the Trump impeachment hearings regarding Ukraine.

“Personally, he hadn’t filed his taxes. Okay? That’s his personal problem. And then, politically ... look, there was an impeachment proceeding going on. His name was and face was everywhere in the world.”

When the interviewers asked, “So it’s your testimony here today that politically, that political risk had nothing to do with then-candidate Joe Biden; that’s your testimony?” Morris replied, “Correct.”

Morris testified that he has not been questioned by federal law enforcement — including the Hunter Biden special counsel — regarding his loans to the president’s son or campaign finance issues, outside one instance in which he briefly spoke with an FBI agent and an IRS agent who were investigating the younger Biden’s tax issues in 2021. There were no subsequent attempts to speak to him, Morris said.