White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday found herself again on the defensive as she insisted that first son Hunter Biden won’t discuss art sales with potential buyers when he meets with them at gallery events.
Psaki also defended a White House-brokered arrangement in which buyers will be kept secret, despite ethics experts saying the plan actually heightens concerns about influence-peddling.
“He is attending gallery events that had been prior planned and announced,” Psaki said at her daily press briefing. “That is different than meeting with prospective buyers.”
Psaki continued, “The selling of his art will all happen through the gallerists and the names of individuals will be kept confidential. We will not be aware of, neither will he be aware.”
But an ABC News reporter pressed Psaki: “Is there anything stopping anyone from directly telling, though, Hunter Biden that they are going to purchase his art? And if they do, the American people won’t know who they are.”
“He will not know [and] we will not know who purchases his art,” Psaki insisted without further explanation.
In response to another reporter, Psaki repeated, “He is not involved in the sale or discussions about the sale of his art, and he will not be informed of the sale of his art and who is purchasing that art.”
“That is a commitment that’s been made and we expect that all parties would abide by it,” she said.
Ethics experts, including harsh critics of former President Donald Trump, say they are alarmed at the novice artist’s plans to sell his debut artworks for up to $500,000.
Walter Shaub, who worked as director of the Office of Government Ethics under former President Barack Obama, has called for the art sales to be canceled — or for the names of buyers to be disclosed.
“Hunter Biden should cancel this art sale because he knows the prices are based on his dad’s job. Shame on POTUS if he doesn’t ask Hunter to stop. If that fails, he should ask that the names of buyers be released & pledge to notify us if any buyer ever meets with admin officials,” Shaub recently tweeted.
Richard Painter, a failed 2018 Democratic Senate candidate and the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, has also slammed the art sales.
“Bottom line: secrecy never works in ethics. Whether it’s secret sales of Hunter Biden’s art or the University of Pennsylvania’s secret donations from China and Saudi Arabia. Secrecy never works,” Painter recently wrote.
Psaki has been asked at recent press briefings about Hunter Biden’s art sales, including by several reporters from CBS News.
The first son has long faced allegations of trying to profit from his father’s official work, including when Joe Biden was vice president.
Psaki this month denied that the president talks business with his son in response to a question from The Post about new evidence that he met while vice president with Hunter Biden’s business associates from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mexico.
“The president does not discuss business dealings with family members,” Psaki said.
Hunter Biden still owns 10 percent of Chinese investment fund BHR, which is backed by Chinese state-owned entities, according to recently reported business records. “He’s working to unload that,” Psaki said on July 9.