In the final days of the campaign, President Trump and his allies are engaged in a last-ditch effort to raise questions about the ethics of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. by trying to tie Mr. Biden to relations. international trade of Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, and one of his brothers, James.
Their efforts drew on a number of sources, including emails, photographs of encrypted text messages and other material provided by Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter and James Biden. Many of these documents relate to a joint venture project in 2017, after Mr Biden left, with a Chinese partner. The deal ultimately fell apart.
Here are some questions and answers about the situation.
Was Joe Biden involved in this deal?
There is no evidence in the records that Mr. Biden was involved in or profited from the joint venture.
Messages, emails and other encrypted documents reviewed by the New York Times do not show Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing the former vice president’s role in the project.
Mr. Biden’s tax returns, which he released, show no income from such a business. There is nothing illegal about doing business in China or with Chinese partners; Mr. Trump has long pursued deals in China, partnered with a government-controlled company, and maintained a corporate bank account there.
The Biden campaign has dismissed any claims that the former vice president had any role in the deal negotiations or an interest in it.
Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, said the former vice president never had any interest in the project. “Joe Biden never even considered getting involved in business with his family, or any overseas business,” he said.
In Thursday’s second presidential debate, Mr Biden said: “I have never taken a dime from a foreign source in my life.”
The messages produced by Mr. Bobulinski appear to reflect a meeting between him, the former vice president and James Biden in May 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. The messages do not specify what was discussed.
Mr Bates did not respond to questions about Mr Bobulinski’s claim that he had met the former vice president. But Mr Bates said the Chinese deal was never discussed by Mr Biden with members of his family. “He never had any conversation on these matters,” Mr. Bates said.
An email sent on May 13, 2017 by another member of the company explains how the various partners in the deal could theoretically split the equity and refers to the question of whether “the big guy” could get 10% . The document does not specify who this person is, saying only “10 detained by H for the big one?”
Mr. Bobulinski said it was clearly the former vice-president.
Mr Bates said that Mr Biden “has never held shares in such trade deals and that no member of his family or anyone else has ever held shares for him.”
Documents produced by Mr Bobulinski show that in 2017, Hunter Biden and James Biden were involved in negotiations for a joint venture with a Chinese energy and finance company called CEFC China Energy.
Bobulinski’s archives include emails, contracts, business plan documents, and photographs of encrypted messages between the US partners. The Times could not independently authenticate all of the tapes, but the tapes referred to in this article are consistent with previous interviews and reports from The Times. The Biden campaign did not dispute that Hunter and James Biden were involved in negotiating the deal with the Chinese company.
Records make it clear that Hunter Biden viewed the last name as a valuable asset, angrily citing the “mark of his family” as the reason it was valuable to the proposed business.
The documents also show that the countries Hunter Biden, James Biden and their associates planned to target for deals overlapped with countries in which Joe Biden had previously been involved as a vice president. A 42-page plan includes a section specifically highlighting former Vice President Biden’s role in facilitating increased trade with Colombia, which is one of the targets of the joint venture, along with Luxembourg, Oman and Romania.
Hunter Biden’s role in the deal, according to one of the documents, “has been essential in building the relationship, conveying goodwill around the president,” referring to Ye Jianming, the president of CEFC.
The Times reported in 2018 that Ye met privately with Hunter Biden at a Miami hotel in May 2017, where the Chinese executive proposed a partnership to invest in U.S. infrastructure and energy deals. The planning for the Miami meeting appears to be reflected in some of the messages posted by Mr. Bobulinski.
The documents indicate that CEFC China originally announced it would send $ 10 million in early 2017 to the joint venture.
CEFC focused on trading oil futures and securing rights to overseas oil fields in conflict-torn regions like Chad, South Sudan and Iraq. He was looking to expand his global businesses, both as an energy company and as a project funder, and turned to Hunter and James Biden and their associates, including Mr. Bobulinski, for help. to find new business.
An early draft of the business plan stated that Hunter and James Biden and their American associates “had forged alliances with the highest levels of government, banks and corporations.”
As of August 2017, there were signs of problems with the deal. Mr Bobulinski wrote to CEFC to point out that the promised $ 10 million payment had not been deposited into the bank account of the US partners.
There is conflicting information that this money was never delivered by the Chinese partner. An election year probe into allegations of corruption against the Bidens by two Senate committees, which found no evidence of influence or wrongdoing on the part of the former vice president, suggested that the CEFC money could have passed, prompting Mr Bobulinski to ask James Biden. if that was the case in a recent post.