Hunter Biden defends foreign business dealings, but admits 'poor judgment'

In his first sit-down interview since the impeachment inquiry kicked off, Hunter Biden addressed allegations of wrongdoing and how his business involvement affected his father's 2020 campaign.

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By Lauren Egan

WASHINGTON — Hunter Biden defended his involvement in foreign businesses but admitted that his last name was the likely reason he was offered a seat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company.

Biden, 49, the son of former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, is at the center of President Donald Trump’s efforts to have Ukraine investigate his political rival. Those efforts by Trump have led to the Democrats in Congress to launch an impeachment inquiry.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the impeachment process started, Hunter Biden told ABC News that aired Tuesday that he used "poor judgment" even though he did nothing wrong.

“In retrospect, look, I think that it was poor judgment on my part. Is that I think that it was poor judgment because I don't believe now, when I look back on it — I know that there was — did nothing wrong at all," Biden said in the interview.

"I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father. That's where I made the mistake," Biden added. "So I take full responsibility for that. Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever."

When asked if he would have been given the board position on Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company, if his last name was not Biden, he conceded, "probably not."

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"I don't know. I don't know. Probably not, in retrospect," he said. "But that's — you know — I don't think that there's a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn't Biden."

Hours after Biden's interview aired, Trump tweeted that he was "really bad," adding "Now Sleepy Joe has real problems! Reminds me of Crooked Hillary and her 33,000 deleted Emails, not recoverable!"

"Hunter spoke out after an unprecedented smear campaign by the president of the United States, who is engulfed in a scandal of his own making after asking foreign nations to interfere in our election,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager said on Tuesday. “Hunter was forceful and spoke with conviction, calling out the illegal acts Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani carried out to exploit him and his father,” Bedingfield added.

The younger Biden served on the board of Burisma from 2014 to 2019. Trump has asserted without evidence that Joe Biden used the power of the vice presidency to advance his son’s business interests by pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire the country’s prosecutor who, Trump claims, was investigating the company.

Trump has also insisted that Joe Biden again helped his son’s business interests in China after reports that Hunter Biden accompanied his father on an official trip to Beijing in 2013. Hunter Biden announced earlier this month that he would step down from his board position on a Chinese private equity firm.

"I've traveled everywhere with my dad," Hunter Biden said in the ABC News interview. "And I went [to China in 2013] because my daughter was on the trip too."

Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry over a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during which he pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a leading political rival of Trump’s in the 2020 election.

In the wake of Congress’ inquiry into Trump’s potential abuse of power, the White House released a near-transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy. Hunter Biden described reading it, telling ABC News that “like every other American — I was shocked."

On Sunday, Hunter Biden’s attorney said in a statement that if Joe Biden were to be elected president, Hunter would agree “not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign owned companies.” And Monday, Joe Biden released an ethics plan that accused the president of leading the "most corrupt administration in modern history."

Hunter Biden was hopeful Tuesday that the controversy over his business involvement will not hinder his father's presidential campaign, just hours before Joe Biden is set to take the stage for the fourth Democratic primary debate.

"I think that they know who my dad is, and I think that they know that my dad is not Donald Trump," he said. "I certainly hope that there is no negative political ramifications of this. I think that the truth always wins."