WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Joe Biden testily denied that a Ukrainian energy company offered his son, Hunter, a lucrative spot on its executive board solely because of his father’s powerful position when asked about the subject Monday.
Savannah Guthrie, co-host of NBC’s “Today” show, asked Biden whether it was wrong for his son “to take that position, knowing that it was really because that company wanted access to you.”
“Well, that’s not true. You’re saying things you do not know what you’re talking about,” an agitated Biden replied. “No one said that. Who said that?”
Guthrie asked why Hunter Biden, who did not have previous experience in the field, would have been given the seat on board of Burisma, a natural gas company, if his father were not the vice president.
“He’s a very bright guy,” Biden said.
Biden – who then-President Barack Obama had tasked with tackling the rampant corruption in Ukraine – said, “No one’s found anything wrong with his dealings with Ukraine except they say it sets a bad image.”
Biden said he agreed it did create a bad image and that Hunter Biden had said as much.
“He said he regretted having done it. Speaks for himself. He’s a grown man,” Biden said.
Biden has bristled at questions about his son and Ukraine on other occasions.
“You’re a damn liar, man,” he told a man who accused him at an Iowa campaign event in December of selling access through his son.
Contrary to Biden’s assertion on Monday that no one had said his son was offered the seat to gain access to him, several Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have suggested exactly that.
And though no U.S. or Ukrainian officials have alleged the Bidens acted illegally, Republicans like Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham have said the matter has not been examined closely enough.
‘I’m embarrassed for you’:Joe Biden says Lindsey Graham will regret backing Trump amid Ukraine controversy
“The day of reckoning is coming for congressional and Senate oversight of Joe Biden,” Graham told Fox News on Sunday. Graham said he hopes the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will call witnesses, including Hunter Biden, to testify about the matter “in the coming weeks.”
“They ruined America’s ability to effectively deal with corruption in the Ukraine by having Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma. That’s just a fact,” Graham said. “And we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
The House impeached Trump on articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress last month stemming from allegations that he pressured Ukraine into investigating the Bidens’ connection to Burisma. Democrats allege Trump only wanted the investigation in order to damage a political rival ahead of the 2020 election and that allegations that Biden had a Ukrainian prosecutor fired for looking into Burisma had been debunked.
But Trump’s legal team argued in the Senate trial that the president had legitimate reasons to be concerned about corruption related to the Bidens and Burisma.
Fact-checking:The Senate impeachment trial of President Trump
“You’ve heard from the House managers. They do not believe that there was any concern to raise here, that all of this was baseless,” Trump attorney Pam Bondi said during opening statements in the Senate impeachment trial. “All we are saying is that there was a basis to talk about this, to raise this issue, and that is enough.”
Eric Herschmann, another member of Trump’s legal team, said Biden “was purportedly fighting corruption in Ukraine. He was urging Ukraine to investigate and uproot corruption. One thing he apparently did not do, however, was to tell his son not to trade on his family connections.”
Last week, Sen. Jon Ernst, R-Iowa, told reporters she was interested to see how the insinuations made by Trump’s legal team would affect voters in Monday’s Iowa caucuses. Critics seized on the statement as evidence that the allegations were always about hurting Biden politically.
Ernst defended her comments during an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Whether that was the intention or not, now everything is tied together,” Ernst said. “So, the information about the Bidens is out there. And so now it is up to the American people to decide was that a good choice for Hunter Biden to be on that board, especially at a time when his father was trying to ferret out corruption in Ukraine?”