Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday, President Donald Trump widened his requests for foreign leaders to investigate his political opponent, repeating accusations about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s involvement with Ukraine and China.
Specifically, Trump said that, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” alleging that they received a “payoff” worth billions. Trump said that while he hasn’t yet asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to look into the Bidens, he will start “thinking about it.”
On Thursday, CNN reported that in a June call with Xi, Trump raised Biden’s political prospects as well as those of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
In attacking the Bidens over the past few weeks, Trump has spent the majority of his time focusing on Ukraine, but he’s also at times made vague allegations about the Bidens’ ties to China. On several occasions, he has intimated that the Bidens have received millions of dollars from China, implying they capitalized on the then vice president’s political power and connections.
We’ve already fact-checked the President’s claims about the Bidens and Ukraine. Trump’s latest allegations involving China are similarly misleading.
Facts First: There is no evidence that former Vice President Joe Biden received money from China. Though when it comes to Biden’s son Hunter, Trump’s allegations are not thoroughly unfounded.
Here’s what Trump has said:
During his remarks at the United Nations on September 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump said, “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. I think it’s a horrible thing.” Details on the deal that the President cited come from conservative author Peter Schweizer’s newest book “Secret Empires.”
A day later, in an exchange with reporters on September 26, Trump implicated the elder Biden in his allegations, saying, “But Adam Schiff doesn’t talk about Joe Biden and his son walking away with millions of dollars from Ukraine and then millions of dollars from China. Walking away, in a quick meeting, walking away with millions of dollars.”
Here’s what we know:
A company, whose board Hunter Biden sat on, received a large investment of Chinese capital shortly after Hunter Biden visited the country with his father.
According to the New York Times, Biden’s son Hunter has a 10% interest in BHR Partners, a private-equity fund that the Chinese government-owned Bank of China has invested in. As of May 2019, both The New York Times and the Washington Post reported that Hunter had not received any money from the fund or in connection with his role as an unpaid advisory board member.
In July 2019, more than two years after his father left office, Hunter purchased an equity stake in the BHR fund, valued around $430,000, according to the Washington Post.
More coverage of the whistleblower complaint
After Trump’s meeting with Zelensky at the United Nations, one of Hunter’s lawyers told the Washington Post that, “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 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.”
In December 2013, the same month the fund was officially established, Hunter joined his father and one of his daughters on a trip to China. There, Hunter met up with Jonathan Li, the fund’s China-based partner. The New Yorker reported that Li met Hunter at his hotel and shook hands with the vice president. Days after the start of the trip, Hunter had officially joined BHR’s board, the Washington Post reports, raising questions about whether he had used his father’s access for his own personal benefit.
However, according to The New Yorker, Hunter maintains that visit with Li was social, not business-related.
Schweizer, who also wrote “Clinton Cash,” suggested in a May op-ed for the New York Post that the vice president was responsible for or helped influence what he claimed in “Secret Empires” was a $1.5 billion deal the fund made with the Bank of China, which was signed shortly after the Bidens’ trip to China.
While Schweizer points to that handshake between Biden and Li as evidence that Hunter profited from his father’s position, technically that’s untrue as Hunter did not personally make any money until years after his father was no longer serving as vice president.
This story has been updated following Trump’s October 3 comments.