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Explained: What's Hunter Biden Scandal And How Republican Mid-Term Win In US House Might Trouble Joe Biden?

Explained: What's Hunter Biden Scandal And How Republican Mid-Term Win In US House Might Trouble Joe Biden?

Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, has long been subject of criticism over alleged unethical and illegal practices, including the use of his father's name for financial gains.

Republicans aim to target US President Joe Biden via Hunter Biden probe
Republicans aim to target US President Joe Biden via Hunter Biden probe Facebook/Joe Biden

The Republicans failed to perform as per expectations in the US mid-term elections but their majority in the US House of Representatives still brings them one gain — the power to investigate President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden.

The Republican Party was expected to win 54-55 seats in US Senate, the upper chamber of the US Congress, but the Democrats managed to secure majority by flipping a crucial Senate seat. In the House, the Republicans were expected to win a comfortable majority, but the majority they ended up winning is very thin. NBC News projects that Republicans have 224 against 221 seats won by Democrats in the 445-member House. 

However thin the Republican majority in the House might be, it still allows them to mount subpoena-powered investigations on Hunter, the troubled son of President Biden who has been a subject of several negative headlines for his father. 

Hunter faces accusations of tax evasion and unethical practices such as using his father's name and has a history of drug abuse. Here we explain who is Hunter Biden, what's he accused of, and how Republican investigation into Hunter might affect his father.

Who is Hunter Biden?

President Joe Biden has four children from two marriages.

Biden and his first wife Neilia Hunter had three children named Hunter, Beau, and Naomi. Neilia and and Naomi died in a car accident in 1972.

Following his first wife Neilia's death, Biden married his second and current wife Jill Biden in 1977. The two have a daughter Ashley.

Beau also died in 2015 of brain cancer. He was a lawyer and had served in the Army National Guard.

Hunter, Biden's only surviving son, has been the subject of several controversies, which are both personal and professional. 

Personally, Hunter has a history of drug abuse. While his father is a teetotal, Hunter began drinking in teens and proceeded to cocaine in college years. He also had a rocky separation with his former wife Kathleen Buhle, who has said he had a "massive" addiction issue. He also had an affair with his sister-in-law — late brother Beau's wife Hallie.

Moreover, Hunter fathered a son with a woman he met at a strip club in 2018. 

Professionally, Hunter has been accused of using his father's name to get lucrative jobs and for being associated with companies accused of corruption and having shady business deals. He is also under federal tax evasion investigation since 2018.

While his personal life is not under investigation, and nothing illegal has yet surfaced in his professional dealings, these scandals have put him and his father under negative spotlight. 

What is Hunter Biden accused of?

It is alleged that Hunter charged or at least sought huge sums of money for lobbying purposes when his father Joe Biden was the Vice President. This lobbying has been linked to Libya- and China-related affairs besides introducing people wanting to get things done with appropriate top-level US officials.

"One prospective partner reported that despite reports of Hunter's womanizing and substance abuse, he could still be a valuable partner due to his purported 'access' to the State and Treasury departments as well as the 'highest level' in China," reported Insider.

The Insider reported that Hunter accompanied his father on his official visit to Beijing where Joe Biden met Chinese venture capitalist Jonathan Li, who had earlier contracted Hunter with a private equity fund. Hunter also received a 3-carate diamond from another Chinese tycoon.

"Other documents, derived from Hunter Biden's abandoned laptop, suggest that his associates were managing some of Joe Biden's finances and paying the vice president's utility and Delaware home repair bills out of his son's accounts," reported Insider.

To be clear, lobbying is legal, but when it's being done by the son of US Vice President, who few years later became the President, quesions are set to arise at least on ethics if not on the legality of the affairs.

In another damning report in 2021, the Insider reported that Hunter asked for a $2 million annual retainer plus "success fees" to help unfreeze Libyan assets when his father was the Vice President. Libyan assets were frozen during the presidency of Muammar Gaddafi.

"In 2015, long after Gaddafi's ouster and death, two Democratic donors with business in the Persian Gulf pitched Hunter Biden about joining their cause. The two donors were frank in discussing Hunter Biden's connections: 'Since he travels with dad he is connected everywhere in Europe and Asia where M.Q. [Gaddafi, also spelled Qaddafi] and LIA [Libya Investment Authority] had money frozen. He said he has access to highest level in PRC [China], he can help there,' Sam Jauhari, one donor, wrote in January 2015 to Mohammed al-Rahbani, another donor," reported Insider.

Besides this lobbying, Hunter is associated with some companies accused of corruption.

"From 2013 through 2018 Hunter Biden and his company brought in about $11 million via his roles as an attorney and a board member with a Ukrainian firm accused of bribery and his work with a Chinese businessman now accused of fraud," reported NBC News, citing leaked contents from Hunter's computer.

To be clear, Hunter has not been charged and lobbying is not illegal, but ethics of his dealings are under question, which also put his father Joe Biden into spotlight as much of it happened when he was the Vice President.

How Republicans might trouble Joe Biden?

The Republicans have said clearly that they are not investigating Hunter but "the Biden family". The main objective is to hit President Biden.

"The president's participation in enriching his family is, in a word, abuse of the highest order. I want to be clear: this is an investigation of Joe Biden, and that's where our focus will be next Congress," said Republican James Comer, the incoming Chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

With House majority, Republicans have subpoena powers, which means they can unearth new documents and testimony. This could be damaging to Hunter and more damning for his father as the true extent of Hunter's dealings remain unclear and there is no idea what might be unearthed. 

"One thing that is clear, however, is Joe Biden's approach to the many Hunter Biden controversies — reiterate unconditional love for the troubled son while disavowing any specific knowledge of or involvement with his dealings. That could backfire should hard evidence surface that Joe Biden was actually in the Rosemont Seneca loop, as opposed to just being mentioned by others. But so far, it hasn't," noted Insider.

President Biden is dealing with low approval ratings. Polling and data analyses site FiveThirtyEight reports his current approval rating is just 42 per cent. While fresh from becoming stronger with Democratic Party's performance in mid-term polls, Biden cannot afford to lose any more approval.

The Biden White House has been preparing for such troubles. The Associated Press reported "the White House has been preparing for months for possible investigations into Biden’s family".

CNN reported, "White House officials believe Republicans are bound to overstep and that their investigative overreach will backfire with the American public. In the meantime, they are prepared to push back forcefully, believing that many proposed investigations are based on conspiracy theories and politically motivated charges."

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