Finley: Ask Joe Biden about Hunter's conflicts

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Joe Biden is waging a major counter-offensive to mute discussion that his son, Hunter, benefited financially from foreign business deals while his father was vice president.

Sunday, Hunter Biden resigned from the board of a Chinese investment firm, a position he was given during his dad's tenure with the Obama administration. Hunter Biden also served on the board of a Ukraine energy company headed by a corrupt business executive while the former vice president was deeply involved with that country.

Biden declared in a speech over the weekend that his son did nothing wrong, and the controversy is manufactured by President Donald Trump to marginalize a political rival. No doubt Trump is trying to do just that. He's facing impeachment largely because he suggested Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden during a phone call with the Ukrainian president.

Hunter Biden

Earlier, Biden urged the news media not to give air time to Rudy Giuliani, who is carrying Trump's water on the Biden accusations, and his campaign sent a letter to the New York Times scolding it for running an op-ed from an author who contends Hunter Biden’s foreign appointments were made solely to curry favor with the Obama administration.

Remarkably, some outlets have eagerly bent to Biden's demands. Chuck Todd of NBC and host of Meet the Press, cut off Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, when he mentioned Biden in connection with the Ukraine scandal. Todd is taking the curious position that since Hunter Biden is not a public official, his private dealings are not newsworthy.

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden

Similarly, MSNBC host Nicole Wallace broke away from a Trump speech when he began talking about the Bidens and Ukraine, telling viewers “the president is not telling the truth.” CNN host Erin Burnett did the same thing to Sen. Lee Zeldin, R-New York, declaring unequivocally, "There is no evidence of Joe Biden doing anything wrong and this is something that has been looked into..."

Well, no it hasn’t. There’s been no investigation in the United States into Hunter Biden's dealings. There may be no criminal misdeeds, but there are ethical questions that need exploring.

That should start tonight when the Democratic presidential candidates appear on an Ohio stage for their fourth debate.

Americans should hear an explanation from Biden of how his son, a young man with an unremarkable resume and a history of drug addiction, ended up with plum and enriching placements with foreign firms while he was vice president.

Would someone with similar qualifications but without a politically powerful father been considered? Biden's claims that he and his son never discussed his work with the foreign firms seem disingenuous, particularly since Hunter Biden met with his Chinese benefactors while on a state visit to China with his father.

Did Joe Biden talk with his son about the appearance of conflict, and the real potential that these companies were trying to get to the father through the son? If not, why?

It is not a bogus issue simply because Trump is raising it to distract from revelations of his own mounting improprieties. And it's not mitigated by the fact that Trump's children are profiting from his presidency — when did the Trumps become the gold standard for presidential family behavior? 

This is about the swamp — a place with no partisan exclusions — and how its inhabitants enrich themselves and their friends and family under the pretense of public service.

CNN and the New York Times are hosting this fourth debate. Their moderators should ask Joe Biden about the how and why of his son’s foreign business deals, and put his Democratic rivals on record as to whether they think this sort of shady stuff is OK. 

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN