Then-Vice President Joe Biden’s 2013 official trip to China with his son, Hunter, is coming under fresh scrutiny, as President Trump and Republicans question Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings while his father served in the Obama administration.
Biden, his son Hunter, and his granddaughter Finnegan, flew on Air Force Two for the official trip to Beijing in December 2013. While it’s typical for the families of the president and vice president to travel with them, questions have been raised about whether Hunter Biden used the government trip to further his business interests.
“What wasn't known then was that as he accompanied his father to China, Hunter Biden was forming a Chinese private equity fund that associates said at the time was planning to raise big money, including from China,” journalist Josh Lederman, who was one of four reporters on the trip, wrote in a story for NBC News on Wednesday.
“Hunter Biden has acknowledged meeting with Jonathan Li, a Chinese banker and his partner in the fund during the trip, although his spokesman says it was a social visit,” Lederman added. “The Chinese business license that brought the new fund into existence was issued by Shanghai authorities 10 days after the trip, with Hunter Biden a member of the board.”
The renewed focus on the trip comes as Democrats ramp up their impeachment inquiry into Trump. Democrats are moving ahead with those efforts after a whistleblower complained that Trump, in a July phone call, pressed the president of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings in that country.
Biden and his campaign have vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Andrew Bates, a campaign spokesman, called the questions over the China trip a "conspiracy theory."
Trump has repeatedly referenced Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China.
“When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund, and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China, and he’s there for one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two, I think that’s a horrible thing,” Trump said last month. “I think it’s a horrible thing.”
Trump also said of Biden on Sept. 24: “Ask how his son made millions of dollars from Ukraine, made millions of dollars from China, even though he had no expertise whatsoever.”
The money figure cited by Trump has been disputed by a spokesman for Hunter Biden. The Washington Post recently reported that the firm behind the fund said they planned to raise $1.5 billion, but a spokesman said Hunter Biden bought only a 10 percent equity interest in the fund that was actually worth $430,000.
“To date, Mr. Biden has not received any return or compensation on account of this investment or his position on the board of directors,” the spokesman told the Washington Post. “The characterization of Mr. Biden as owning a $1.5 billion private equity firm funded by the Chinese, or suggesting that Mr. Biden has earned millions of dollars from the firm is a gross misrepresentation of Mr. Biden’s role with BHR.”
The spokesman also told NBC News that Hunter Biden didn't acquire equity interest until after his father had left office in 2017.
Earlier this month, Joe Biden told Fox News in Iowa that he never discussed his son’s foreign business dealings with him.
“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” Biden said.
Hunter Biden told The New Yorker previously that he and his father had spoken “just once" about Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine.
But more questions were raised after a photo obtained by Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" this week showed Biden and his son Hunter golfing in the Hamptons with Devon Archer, who served on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings with Hunter.
A source close to Archer told Fox News the photo was taken in August 2014. Contemporaneous news reports indicate the vice president was in the Hamptons at the time.
Hunter Biden and Archer joined the Burisma Holdings board in April 2014.
Fox News’ Gregory Re contributed to this report.