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The Bidens Concede

The Wall Street Journal. logo The Wall Street Journal. 10/15/2019 James Freeman
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a flag © mary schwalm/Reuters

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Not even the Biden family seems willing to stand behind their questionable financial arrangements. A business associate in Shanghai doesn’t seem to have an explanation yet, either. Are the bitter-enders at CNN and NBC News finally ready to stop defending the indefensible?

Last week this column noted that former Vice President Joe Biden once again declined to offer a defense of his family’s business model even in an op-ed ostensibly responding to attacks on this model. Over the weekend, his son Hunter Biden quit another of the overseas engagements for which he seemed eminently unqualified.

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The Journal’s Ken Thomas and Thomas Grove noted on Sunday:

Hunter Biden is stepping down from a director’s position at a Chinese private-equity firm and said he wouldn’t serve on any foreign boards if his father, Joe Biden, is elected president, lowering his controversial business profile as it becomes embroiled in the 2020 election and Democrats’ efforts to impeach President Trump.

...The former vice president’s son, 49 years old, served on the board of Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings Ltd. while his father oversaw U.S. policy on Ukraine as vice president. Hunter Biden stepped down from the Burisma board in April. The younger Biden remained a director of BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Co., a Chinese investment firm, where Mr. Trump also alleges inappropriate conduct by the Bidens. Hunter Biden said Sunday he would remove himself from the firm’s board on Oct. 31.

The statement released through Hunter Biden’s lawyer, George Mesires, described his work for Burisma, saying “at no time has any law enforcement agency, either domestic or foreign, alleged that Hunter engaged in wrongdoing at any point during his five-year term.”

This is the Bill Clinton standard—that any conduct not deemed illegal in a foreign jurisdiction is fair game for those with U.S. political juice.

Today the Journal’s Mr. Thomas reports from Washington:

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden released a series of ethics proposals Monday, looking to spotlight concerns about President Trump’s record while also addressing criticism about his son’s business dealings.

...Hunter Biden is sitting for an interview with ABC News that will air Tuesday, which will mark his first televised comments on the matter.

If Hunter Biden can come up with a good explanation for ABC of what he was doing in overseas locales where his father was leading U.S. policy, perhaps he can also share it with his longtime partners. Cissy Zhou and Jun Mai report today in the South China Morning Post:

BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company has grabbed global media attention for its links with Hunter Biden, the son of former United States vice-president Joe Biden, after US President Donald Trump fired a barrage of corruption allegations at him and requested China investigate the Bidens’ financial activities in the country.

The company has repeatedly declined to elaborate on the younger Biden’s role at the firm when contacted by the South China Morning Post via phone, mail and visits to the office. But Jonathan Li Xiangsheng, the firm’s chief executive and Hunter Biden’s partner, has said the company was working on an explanation about the American’s role.

Li refused to comment on the younger Biden when reached by the Post on Monday.

A recent visit to the firm’s registered address in Beijing found a small, plainly decorated office, where a receptionist said she had never seen Hunter Biden.

More than five years after going into business with Hunter Biden, his associates in China are still “working on an explanation” of his role there? If this doesn’t arouse the curiosity of a neutral journalist, it’s hard to imagine what would. But the reaction of much of the American media perhaps tells us how rare such journalists have become.

In a Saturday op-ed entitled, “He who must not be named,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley noted a widespread media urge to simply suppress the story:

Hunter Biden: The mere mention of his name seemingly triggers the vapors among cable TV hosts and their guests.

When President Trump turned to the Bidens and Ukraine in a speech, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut off the coverage, declaring she had to protect the listeners: “We hate to do this, really, but the president isn’t telling the truth.” When Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) tried to answer a question about the Ukraine scandal by referencing the Bidens, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd angrily told him not to “gaslight” the nation.

...What is most remarkable about the paucity of coverage of Hunter Biden’s dealings is the conclusory mantra that “this has all been investigated.” ...When Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) raised the issue on CNN, host Erin Burnett cut him off: “There is no evidence of Joe Biden doing anything wrong, and this is something that has been looked into, and I think — I want to make a point here — I think what we need to talk about right now is what did the president right now do or not do.” Other CNN hosts have repeated the line of “no evidence of wrongdoing” like a virtual incantation.

Instead of a near-religious repetition of a Biden defense, perhaps staff at CNN and NBC could try to get an answer to a simple question: What did Hunter Biden’s overseas associates think they were paying for?

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(Teresa Vozzo helps compile Best of the Web. Thanks to Tony Lima.)

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Mr. Freeman is the co-author of “Borrowed Time,” now available from HarperBusiness.

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