Psaki pressed on Hunter Biden art sales as Joe’s nominee seen at show

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Psaki pressed on Hunter Biden art sales as Joe's nominee seen at show

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki grew flustered Wednesday when reporters pressed her on ethics questions raised by an ambassador nominee attending an art show for Hunter Biden.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, President Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to India, attended a Friday night event in Hollywood for the first son-turned-novice artist, who is seeking as much as $500,000 for his debut artworks.

“Should we expect to see more people who seek jobs in this administration attending events like this in the future?” CBS News Radio reporter Steven Portnoy asked Psaki at her daily press briefing.

Portnoy noted that ethicists “have expressed concern that the president’s son selling art” could involve “people who seek jobs in this administration or favors from this administration.”

Psaki invoked a months-old White House defense of the art sales — but reporters pressed her with follow up questions. The White House says the art sales will be anonymous, purportedly making influence-peddling impossible.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was on the defensive when asked about the ethics of a nominee of President Joe Biden attending his son Hunter Biden's art show.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was on the defensive when asked about the ethics of a nominee of President Joe Biden attending his son Hunter Biden’s art show.
Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

“Well, to be clear, we’ve spoken to the arrangement that is run by the gallerist and Hunter Biden’s representatives that the White House provided suggestions for. I’d refer to the gallerist for questions about the event as well as the representatives of Mr. Garrcetti in terms of his attendance,” Psaki said.

Portnoy, who is president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, pressed Psaki: “But just to follow up, this is exactly what ethicists said they were worried about.”

“What is, specifically? That he reportedly attended an event?” Psaki said.

Portnoy responded: “That the president’s son would be selling artwork and then meeting potentially with people who would seek to buy it. If you have attendees who might be seeking either jobs in this administration or favors from this administration, isn’t this an awkward situation for the president?”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is President Biden's nominee to be ambassador to India.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is President Biden’s nominee to be ambassador to India.
Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images
Hunter Biden art show - pictured with politician Michael Tubbs.
Hunter Biden with California politician Michael Tubbs at the art show.
Michael Tubbs/Facebook

Psaki replied: “Again, the gallerist has spoken to, we have spoken to the specifics that the gallery has agreed to and what recommendations were made. I’ve done that several times. I don’t have additional details for you from here. I’d point you to them.”

But Psaki wasn’t done fending off questions about the art show, whose attendee list was first-reported by the left-wing publication Mother Jones.

ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega took up Portnoy’s line of questioning.

Garcetti attended Hunter Biden's art show at a gallery in Hollywood, California.
Mayor Garcetti attended Hunter Biden’s art show at a gallery in Hollywood, California.
Instagram

“Does this White House not have any concerns about the photos that have emerged showing Hunter Biden at that gallery alongside prospective buyers?” Vega asked.

Psaki said, “I’d point you to the gallerist on the specifics of the restrictions that were put in place.”

The TV reporter persisted: “Right, but what about the position of this White House and for the president who ran on being transparent?”

Psaki defensively said: “We were very transparent about what recommendations were made to the gallerist. And I would again point you to them or the many times I have spoken about that from here.”

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

Hunter Biden still owns a 10 percent stake in a Chinese investment fund formed with state-owned entities, according to recent reports. The firm was formed just 12 days after the then-second son joined his vice president father aboard Air Force Two for an official 2013 trip to Beijing.

According to a report on Wednesday, Biden is preparing to host a virtual summit this year with Chinese President Xi Jinping despite that continued conflict of interest.

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