Biden, Corruption and ABC News

Biden, Corruption and ABC News

The Biden influence-peddling racket appears to be much more lucrative than previously reported. The Joe Biden presidential campaign may be changing its story on a Wednesday New York Post report about the family’s Ukrainian enrichment project. And now the Post reports on a new trove of documents suggesting that the Biden family was able to collect big money in China just for arranging meetings.

Hunter Biden pursued lucrative deals involving China’s largest private energy company — including one that he said would be “interesting for me and my family,” emails obtained by The Post show.

One email sent to Biden on May 13, 2017, with the subject line “Expectations,” included details of “remuneration packages” for six people involved in an unspecified business venture.

According to the Post, the email suggests that participants were considering reserving 10% of the equity in the deal for “the big guy.”

Now who might that be? Don’t expect an aggressive pursuit of the answer from most of the press corps, but voters might be curious to know how valuable the Biden name is among some Chinese investors. According to the Post:

Another email — sent by Biden as part of an Aug. 2, 2017, chain — involved a deal he struck with the since-vanished chairman of CEFC, Ye Jianming, for half-ownership of a holding company that was expected to provide Biden with more than $10 million a year.

Ye, who had ties to the Chinese military and intelligence service, hasn’t been seen since being taken into custody by Chinese authorities in early 2018, and CEFC went bankrupt earlier this year, according to reports.

Biden wrote that Ye had sweetened the terms of an earlier, three-year consulting contract with CEFC that was to pay him $10 million annually “for introductions alone.”

On Wednesday this column wondered what a company controlled by a Ukrainian oligarch got in return for large checks to a Biden family member. Some readers correctly pointed out that selling influence is wrong even if the seller never delivers any big policy changes in return. It appears that this column also may have underrated how much revenue Bidens can collect simply by opening doors.

If accurate, the latest Post report also suggests that (spoiler alert!) Hunter Biden wasn’t being paid for his financial acumen. According to the Thursday story:

The documents obtained by The Post also include an “Attorney Engagement Letter” executed in September 2017 in which one of Ye’s top lieutenants, former Hong Kong government official Chi Ping Patrick Ho, agreed to pay Biden a $1 million retainer for “Counsel to matters related to US law and advice pertaining to the hiring and legal analysis of any US Law Firm or Lawyer.”

As for Wednesday’s Post report on Biden family business in Ukraine, many media outlets are working hard to debunk it, but so far they don’t seem to be having much luck.

“Biden campaign lashes out at New York Post” is the headline on a Politico story from Kyle Cheney and Natasha Bertrand published on Wednesday night. The authors write that Team Biden is “punching back” at the Post story and that advisers to Mr. Biden during his time as vice president “rejected the Post’s suggestion that Biden met with a representative of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings in 2015.”

Biden loyalists are rhetorically free to lash out, punch back and reject suggestions. But readers who stick with the Politico story all the way to paragraphs 14 and 15 learn that the Biden campaign wasn’t exactly denying the facts asserted by the Post:

Biden’s campaign would not rule out the possibility that the former VP had some kind of informal interaction with Pozharskyi, which wouldn’t appear on Biden’s official schedule. But they said any encounter would have been cursory. Pozharskyi did not respond to a request for comment.

And senior Biden advisers who spoke to POLITICO on Wednesday — including Michael Carpenter and Amos Hochstein, who staffed the vice president at the time — similarly said that while there was never an official meeting, it’s technically conceivable that Pozharskyi would have approached Biden on the sidelines of some broader U.S.-Ukraine event.

Now Ebony Bowden at the New York Post reports that the Biden campaign’s press secretary is calling the Post reporting false, but doing so by appealing to the authority of Twitter—as if the social-media company blocking the Post account knows which Ukrainians met with which Bidens.

Will Joe Biden finally have to acknowledge the family business? Some media folk are presenting the Post reporting as a smear for which only Mr. Biden’s opponent is accountable, perhaps at an NBC News town hall in Miami this evening.

“Enormous pressure on NBC now to make this thing a nightmare for Trump,” tweets Steele dossier superspreader Ben Smith, who for some reason has not been blocked by Twitter.

But what will tonight be like for Mr. Biden? ABC News shares:

With less than three weeks to Election Day, Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden will face voters directly in an ABC News Town Hall from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

The live special edition of “20/20” — titled “The Vice President and the People” — will be moderated by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos… Voters will have the opportunity to ask the former vice president the questions most important to them

Mr. Biden seems to have caught another big media break. Mr. Stephanopoulos is not just a longtime Clinton family ally. He has also been a donor to the Clinton Foundation, which suggests he’s not exactly a fanatic when it comes to opposing government influence-peddling.

Many Trump voters who tune in to ABC tonight will be fully expecting the anchor to invite “undecided voters” to ask the former vice president if he thinks the President is being mean to the Biden family. Mr. Stephanopoulos could also dodge the issue by inviting Mr. Biden to share his opinion of the New York Post.

On the other hand, tonight also represents an opportunity for ABC to set itself apart from the raft of media companies, new and old, that have dedicated the last 36 hours to suppressing a damning report about their favorite candidate. Regardless of the particulars of the Post reporting, Hunter Biden’s overseas windfalls have been clear for a while. ABC should hold the former vice president to account for the abuse of his office.

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Mr. Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”

***

Follow James Freeman on Twitter.

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To suggest items, please email best@wsj.com.

(Teresa Vozzo helps compile Best of the Web.)

***

Mr. Freeman is also the co-author of “Borrowed Time.”

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