During Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary debate, candidate Joe Biden was asked if it was a mistake for his son Hunter Biden to sit on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while Biden was the vice president and working on Ukrainian corruption issues. Biden dodged the question: He insisted he and his son did “nothing wrong,” that he was “proud” of his son’s judgment, that people should really be focused on President Donald Trump’s corruption, and something about George Washington.
Trump’s request in a July 25 phone call that the president of Ukraine investigate the Bidens is what prompted Democrats to officially open an impeachment inquiry. As the debate moderator noted in his question, there is no evidence that the Bidens had a corrupt arrangement in Ukraine. But both Joe and Hunter Biden seem aware of the poor optics. The former vice president has said he would ban his family and anyone associated with him from being “involved in any foreign operation whatsoever” if he were elected president. And Hunter acknowledged Tuesday, hours before the debate, that he used “poor judgment” in taking the job.
So it was reasonable enough when CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Biden, “If it’s not OK for a president’s family to be involved in foreign businesses, why was it OK for your son when you were vice president?”
But Biden ignored the question. “Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” he started, even though Cooper had already said there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
“My son’s statement speaks for itself,” Biden said multiple times before veering off on a tangent about Trump and the Founding Fathers:
What I think is important is we focus on why it’s so important to remove this man from office. On the 17th ― look, the fact that George Washington worried, on the first time he spoke after being elected president, that what we had to worry about is foreign interference in our elections. It was the greatest threat to America. This president on three occasions, three occasions, has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections. The fact is that it is outrageous. Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs have already proven that they, in fact, are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump. He doesn’t want me to be the candidate. He is going after me because he knows if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum.
Cooper tried again. “Your son Hunter today gave an interview and admitted that he made a mistake and showed poor judgment by serving on that board in Ukraine. Did you make a mistake by letting him? You were the point person on Ukraine at the time,” Cooper said.
Biden again insisted he did nothing wrong — and said that he was “proud” of his son’s judgment.
“Look, my son’s statement speaks for itself. I did my job. I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having do with Ukraine. No one has indicated I have,” Biden said. “My son made a judgment. I’m proud of the judgment he made. I’m proud of what he had to say. And let’s focus on this. The fact of the matter is that this is about Trump’s corruption. That’s what we should be focusing on.”