President Biden is pledging that his administration will follow tough ethics regulations and that no family members will be involved in government or foreign policy decisions.
In his first interview since entering the White House, Biden, sitting next to his wife, Jill, was asked about the allegations surrounding his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China and what kind of guardrails he would put up for family.
“We’re going to run this like the Obama-Biden administration. No one in our family and extended family is going to be involved in any government undertaking or foreign policy. And nobody has an office in this place,” he told People magazine in an interview published Wednesday.
The president has been dogged by questions about the shady business of his son, who is under investigation for potential tax fraud, and his brother, Frank, who has been criticized for using Biden’s name in an ad promoting a Florida law firm he’s an adviser for that ran on Jan. 20.
The ad led the president to warn his brother, “For Christ’s sake, watch yourself,” according to a Politico report published last week.
“Don’t get sucked into something that would, first of all, hurt you,” Biden added.
In October, The Post published a tranche of emails revealing some involvement by the elder Biden in his son Hunter’s business endeavors.
In one email obtained by The Post, it appeared that Hunter Biden had introduced his father, then-Vice President Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company.
The never-before-revealed meeting is mentioned in a message of appreciation that Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, allegedly sent Hunter Biden on April 17, 2015, about a year after Hunter joined the Burisma board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month.
“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the email reads.
An earlier email from May 2014 also shows Pozharskyi, reportedly Burisma’s No. 3 exec, asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.
In another email sent to Biden on May 13, 2017, with the subject line “Expectations,” details of “remuneration packages” are listed for six people involved in an unspecified business venture with a Chinese energy firm.
Hunter Biden was identified as “Chair / Vice Chair depending on agreement with CEFC,” an apparent reference to the former Shanghai-based conglomerate CEFC China Energy Co.
His pay was pegged at “850” and the email also noted that “Hunter has some office expectations he will elaborate.”
In addition, the email outlined a “provisional agreement” under which 80 percent of the “equity,” or shares in the new company, would be split equally among four people whose initials correspond to the sender and three recipients, with “H” apparently referring to Biden.
The deal also listed “10 Jim” and “10 held by H for the big guy?”
Neither Jim nor the “big guy” was identified further.
Days later, one of Hunter’s former business partners in the China scheme and a recipient of the email detailing remuneration, Tony Bobulinski, confirmed the authenticity of the memo and that “the big guy” refers to Joe Biden.
Hunter Biden’s lawyer and the Biden campaign have refused to comment on the details of the report.
In the People interview, President Biden also related an anecdote that emphasized his commitment to strong ethics.
“I remember years ago an accountant said, ‘You know, you can charge (the Senate) part of the gas you use in the vehicle at your home.’ And I said, ‘No,’ ” Biden said. “Here’s how I look at it: The foul line is 15 feet away from the basket. Never get me closer than 17 feet, because it really is a matter of the public trust.”
He also clarified comments he made about whether former President Donald Trump should be impeached by the Senate when the trial begins next Tuesday.
Biden said he was responding to a question about whether the impeachment should move forward, not whether Trump should be convicted, after he was impeached by the House on Jan. 13.
“He was impeached by the House, and it has to move forward, otherwise it would come off as farcical. I’m no longer in the Senate, obviously, and I don’t know what is likely to happen,” he said.
“It’s probably not likely to get 17 Republicans to change their view and convict on impeachment, but I think it’s important that there be certain basic standards that people are able to see what happens and make their own judgments,” he continued, adding: “I’m not looking for retribution.”
Biden was also asked where he sees the nation in a year’s time.
“I hope we have fundamentally returned to normal as it relates to COVID — and it’s going to be hard, because they’re predicting another 100,000 to 150,000 dead unless we take precautions, even with the vaccine,” he said.
“I hope we have really begun to make inroads on equity for all people … where they can have decent jobs and decent opportunities, and the economy is growing, and people are back to a degree of optimism,” Biden said.
Source: New York Times