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White House responds to claims Biden's son Hunter received preferential treatment

“Nothing has changed,” the White House press secretary said when asked about claims that Hunter Biden invoked his father while pressuring business associates.
President Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden.Demetrius Freeman / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — A White House spokesperson defended President Joe Biden on Friday in the wake of new accusations made public this week that his son Hunter Biden received preferential treatment in a high-profile federal tax investigation.

Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House counsel’s office, issued a statement on Friday saying that the White House had no role in decision-making regarding the case and, separately, that Joe Biden has no ties to his son's business operations.

On Thursday, a House committee made public the transcripts of two senior IRS agents who testified this year behind closed doors that U.S. Attorney David Weiss sought to charge Hunter Biden on broader charges than the two tax-related misdemeanors that he agreed to plead guilty to this week.

The whistleblowers claimed to the House Ways and Means Committee that these efforts were blocked, alleging sweeping misconduct in the probe. The Justice Department has vehemently denied the charge.

One of the whistleblowers shared with the committee WhatsApp messages that appeared to show Hunter Biden telling a business associate that he was with his father, and threatening that the contact would “regret” his failure to respond to a demand for payment.

“As we have said many times before, the President was not in business with his son. As we have also said many times before, the Justice Department makes decisions in its criminal investigations independently, and in this case, the White House has not been involved," Sams said Friday. “As the President has said, he loves his son and is proud of him accepting responsibility for his actions and is proud of what he is doing to rebuild his life.”

The statement addressed the broadness of the allegations but did not speak to the specific new claims that were leveled on Thursday.

Pressed during the White House press briefing on Friday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre largely refused to respond.

“Nothing has changed,” Jean-Pierre said when asked on Friday if the testimony undermines a claim by Biden that he has never discussed his son’s overseas business dealings, a claim reiterated by the president's two press secretaries in the White House. 

Jean-Pierre said the White House had made “very clear” its response to the allegations. “What I can tell you is I know that my colleague has dealt with this. I just don’t have anything else to share,” she said. 

Pressed further, Jean-Pierre added: “I appreciate the question. I believe my colleague at the White House counsel has answered his question already, has dealt with this, made it very clear. I just don't have anything to share outside of what my colleagues have shared.”

White House spokesperson John Kirby declined questions on the subject as well, telling reporters, “If you’re going to ask about this, I am not addressing it.”

He repeated, “I am not going to address this issue.”

The White House has defended the probe as free from any political interference and referred questions to the Justice Department. The Justice Department has also denied the claims. 

Hunter Biden was among the guests to attend a state dinner for President Narendra Modi of India at the White House on Thursday. Another was Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

Jean-Pierre defended Hunter Biden’s attendance at the high-profile event, where said she did not know if Biden spoke with Garland.

“I cannot say whether the president had a conversation with the attorney general last night,” Jean-Pierre said.

Regarding Hunter’s attendance, she added, “That’s his son. He is a family member. It is not uncommon for family members to attend events at the White House.”

Counsel to Hunter Biden sought to cast doubt on the whistleblower’s claims in a statement Friday, dismissing questions over the integrity of the probe as a partisan attack and invoking Hunter’s drug addiction to distance the president from the threats by his son.

“Any verifiable words or actions of my client, in the midst of a horrible addiction, are solely his own and have no connection to anyone in his family,” said Chris Clark, adding that the period covered a time of “turmoil and addiction” for the president’s son.

He called “preposterous and deeply irresponsible” allegations that the investigation “was not thorough, or cut corners, or cut my client any slack.”

“Biased and politically motivated, selective leaks have plagued this matter for years. They are not only irresponsible, they are illegal," he continued, and said the testimony by "a very biased individual" should call the whistleblower's motives into question.

“It is dangerously misleading to make any conclusions or inferences based on this document,” he said.