President Joe Biden on Wednesday angrily denied that he was involved in an alleged shakedown of a Chinese businessman by his son Hunter Biden.
“No!” President Biden snapped at a reporter on the White House lawn when asked if he was “sitting there” or “involved” when his son sent a threatening WhatsApp text to businessman Henry Zhao on July 30, 2017.
“No I wasn’t, and I won’t,” the president said as he left to the White House to fly to Chicago for an event.
The White House in recent days refused to comment on the WhatsApp message, and answer questions about whether Hunter Biden’s alleged claim of being with the president when he sent it is true. The White House previously has said that President Biden was not involved in Hunter’s business ventures.
The WhatsApp message came to light days after Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax crimes in federal court in Delaware.
Former IRS agent Gary Shapley last month told the House Ways and Means Committee that an IRS search warrant had uncovered the WhatsApp message by Hunter Biden to Zhao about a proposed energy deal, according to testimony made public last week.
In that message, Hunter told Zhao, “I am sitting here with my father we would like to understand why the commitment has not been fulfilled.”
At the time of the message, Joe Biden was a private citizen, having recently served as a two-term vice president. Before that, he served as a U.S. senator from Delaware for decades.
“Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight,” Hunter Biden wrote to Zhao, according to the transcript.
“And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction.”
“I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father,” Hunter Biden wrote.
Hunter Biden attends an official State Dinner in honor of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 22, 2023.
Stefani Reynolds | Afp | Getty Images
Hunter Biden’s attorney Christopher Clark, in a statement to Fox News last week, responded to the disclosure of the message, by noting that his client was in the midst of addiction when he wrote it.
“Biased and politically-motivated, selective leaks have plagued this matter for years. They are not only irresponsible, they are illegal. A close examination of the document released publicly yesterday by a very biased individual raises serious questions over whether it is what he claims it to be. It is dangerously misleading to make any conclusions or inferences based on this document,” Clark said. “The DOJ investigation covered a period which was a time of turmoil and addiction for my client.”
Clark added that any “verifiable words or actions of my client in the midst of a horrible addiction are solely his own and have no connection to anyone in his family.”
Shapley, the former IRS agent, testified that the Department of Justice “slow-walked” a criminal investigation of Hunter Biden that began in 2018, giving him “preferential treatment” and doing “nothing to avoid obvious conflicts of interest” in the probe.
While Hunter Biden has agreed to plead guilty to wilfully failing to pay taxes for 2017 and 2018, Shapley testified that there was evidence she should have also been criminally charged for his 2014 tax filing.
Shapley said the DOJ would have charged someone for that year in “any other case I ever worked with similar fact patterns, similar acts of evasion and similar tax due and owing.”
The DOJ has said that the U.S. Attorney for Delaware, David Weiss, made charging decisions in the case against Hunter Biden, not Attorney General Merrick Garland, who was appointed by President Biden. Weiss was appointed to his post by then-President Donald Trump, and allowed to remain in it to continue the Hunter Biden investigation.
Weiss told the House Judiciary Committee in a June 7 letter: “Throughout my tenure as U.S. Attorney my decisions have been made — and with respect to the matter must be made — without reference to political considerations.”