Jen Psaki brushes off Biden’s conflicts of interest

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Jen Psaki brushes off Biden's conflicts of interest

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday brushed off questions about President Biden’s conflicts of interest in Russia and China — telling The Post that she had “no confirmation” of the findings of a Senate report that found a firm linked to Hunter Biden got $3.5 million from a Russian billionaire who has yet to face US sanctions.

And Psaki once again refused to say if Hunter Biden actually divested from a Chinese investment fund controlled by state-owned entities.

Psaki spent much of her regular briefing discussing President Biden’s Friday morning video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — but she brushed off The Post’s inquiries about how Biden is handling conflicts of interest in both nations.

The presidential spokeswoman took three questions from The Post, first confirming that Biden will stay out of a Justice Department criminal investigation of his son after The New York Times reported this week that Hunter Biden remains under criminal investigation for possible tax fraud, money laundering and foreign lobbying violations.

Hunter Biden
A Senate report found that a firm linked to Hunter Biden received $3.5 million from Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina.
Getty Images

“Yes, it’s Department of Justice, and I would point you to them,” Psaki said when asked if “the president still intend[s] to stay out of the case.”

In its report on the criminal investigation, The Times verified the authenticity of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, first reported in October 2020 by The Post, and said the first son recently paid the IRS about $1 million in back taxes in a bid to head off prosecution.

Psaki bristled at follow-up questions from The Post about conflicts of interest for the president in Russia and China.

Yelena Baturina
Yelena Baturina is the richest woman in Russia and is sanctioned by the United States.
ZUMAPRESS.com

“On Russia, you told me last year that you were unfamiliar with the Senate report that alleged that the first son or a company linked to the first son received $3.5 million from the richest woman in Russia. Subsequent reporting indicates that President Biden, when he was vice president, had a dinner in Georgetown with the same woman in 2015,” The Post began.

“This Yelena Baturina, she has not been sanctioned yet by the US government. How is President Biden navigating conflicts of interest when it comes to sanctioning people who have done business with this family? And can you explain to us what this $3.5 million was for?”

Psaki brushed off the premise of the question saying, “I don’t have any confirmation of the accuracy of that report, so I have no further details.”

The Post pressed: “Can you say anything about the conflicts of interest though, how he’s navigating those when deciding sanctions?”

Yuri Luzhkov's widow Yelena Baturina
A Senate report says Yelena Baturina had dinner with President Joe Biden in Georgetown in 2015.
ZUMAPRESS.com

Psaki replied, “What would be his conflicts of interest?”

“Well, his son’s company allegedly got $3.5 million from a Russian oligarch,” The Post pointed out.

“Which we have no confirmation of and he’s continued to sanction oligarchs more than we’ve ever sanctioned in the past, so I’m not sure that’s a conflict of interest,” Psaki insisted, without recognizing that the oligarch in question, Baturina, has not faced sanctions that were applied to many other Russian billionaires in response to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The Mac Shop
The New York Times verified the authenticity of the emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
AFP via Getty Images

“She hasn’t been sanctioned, though,” The Post pointed out.

The White House press secretary then attempted to cut off The Post but other journalists in the room declined her invitation to “go ahead” and help end the line of questioning.

Regarding China, The Post said, “Last year the first son’s attorney said that he divested from a Chinese investment fund controlled by Chinese state-owned entities. We have received not even basic transparency about who bought out his stake, when this happened and how much money changed hands. Did he actually divest? And if so, can you agree to basic transparency?”

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden had a virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, shortly after it was announced that Hunter Biden divested his 10 percent stake in a Chinese investment fund.
AP

Psaki said, “He’s a private citizen. He doesn’t work for the government. I’d point you to his representatives.

The Post pointed out, “but there’s a glaring conflict of interest with his father’s role as president in dealing with China.”

Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark said in November — less than a week after President Biden’s 3 1/2 hour virtual summit with Xi — that his client had finally divested his 10 percent stake in the firm, called BHR Partners, but offered no further details on the identity of the buyer or the transaction terms.

Clark has not responded to requests for additional details.

Burisma
Hunter Biden served on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma where he was paid a reported $1 million a year.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden said in 2020 that members of his family would not hold any business role that conflicts with “or appears to be in conflict” with his job as president.

BHR Partners was registered 12 days after Hunter joined then-Vice President Biden aboard Air Force Two for a 2013 trip to Beijing. The firm played a role in facilitating the 2016 sale for $3.8 billion of a Congolese cobalt from a US company to the firm China Molybdenum. Cobalt is a key component in electric car batteries.

The links between the elder Biden and his son’s business ventures often are murky.

The then-second son was paid a reported $1 million per year to serve on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma while then-Vice President Biden controlled the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy. Hunter Biden had no relevant industry experience at the time. Former President Donald Trump was impeached for encouraging Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

In October, Hunter Biden earned $375,000 from the unknown buyers of five prints of his novice artworks ahead of a West Coast art showing attended by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Three months earlier, Biden had nominated Garcetti to be ambassador to India, which meant the mayor’s appearance at the show triggered new ethics questions.

A 2017 email recovered from Hunter Biden’s laptop described a 10 percent set-aside for “the big guy” as part of a prospective deal involving a Chinese energy company. Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski said Joe Biden was the “big guy.”

Photos and emails from the laptop indicate Joe Biden attended a 2015 DC dinner with a group of his son’s associates — including a trio of Kazakhs, Baturina and her husband, ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov.

A photo depicts Joe Biden posing with the Kazakhstani group at the dinner. One day after the gathering, Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi emailed the then-second son to thank him for the opportunity to meet his father — contradicting Joe Biden’s claim that he’d “never spoken” with his son about “his overseas business dealings.”

Joe and Hunter Biden
A photo obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop of then-Vice President Joe Biden standing next to a group of Kazakhstanis contradicts Joe Biden’s claim he never spoke to his son about overseas business.
KIAR

Photos and emails published by The Post indicate that Joe Biden in 2015 hosted his son and a group of Mexican business associates at the vice president’s official residence. In 2016, Hunter Biden apparently emailed one of those associates while aboard Air Force Two for an official visit to Mexico, complaining that he hadn’t received reciprocal business favors after “I have brought every single person you have ever asked me to bring to the F’ing White House and the Vice President’s house and the inauguration.”

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