In the final days of the campaign, President Trump and his allies are engaged in a last-ditch effort to raise questions about the ethics of the former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. trying to tie Mr. Biden to the international trade relations of Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, and one of his brothers, James.
Their efforts drew on a number of sources, including emails, photographs of encrypted text messages and other material provided by Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter and James Biden. Many of those files focus on a joint venture project in 2017, after Mr. Biden left office, with a Chinese partner. The deal ultimately broke down.
Here are some questions and answers about the situation.
Was Joe Biden involved in this deal?
There is no evidence in the records that Mr. Biden was involved in or profited from the joint venture.
Encrypted messages, emails and other documents reviewed by the New York Times do not show Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing the former vice president’s role in the project.
Mr. Biden’s tax returns, he released, show no income from such a business. There is nothing illegal about doing business in China or with Chinese partners; Mr. Trump has long pursued deals in China, had a partnership with a government-controlled company and kept a corporate bank account there.
The Biden campaign has dismissed all claims that the former vice president played a role in or a stake in the deal negotiations.
Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, said the former vice president never had a stake in the project. “Joe Biden never even considered doing business with his family, or any overseas business,” he said.
During the second presidential debate on Thursday, Mr Biden said: “I have never taken a dime from any foreign source in my life.”
Product messages by M. Bobulinski seem to reflect a meeting between him, the former vice president and James Biden in May 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. The messages do not specify what was discussed.
Mr Bates did not respond to questions about Mr Bobulinski’s claim that he had met the former vice president. But Mr Bates said the Chinese deal was never discussed by Mr Biden with members of his family. “He never had any conversation on these matters,” Mr. Bates said.
An email posted on May 13, 2017, by another member of the company, explains how the various partners in the deal could theoretically divide the equity and refers to whether “the big guy” could get 10 percent. The document does not specify who this person is, saying only “10 detained by H for the big guy?”
Mr Bobulinski said the reference was clearly to the former vice president.
Mr Bates said Mr Biden “has never held any shares in such trade deals and no member of his family or anyone else has ever held shares for him.”
What were Hunter and James Biden doing?
Records produced by Mr Bobulinski show that in 2017 Hunter Biden and James Biden were involved in negotiations over a joint venture with a Chinese energy and financial company called CEFC China Energy.
Bobulinski’s records include emails, contracts, business plan documents, and photographs of encrypted messages between the US partners. The Times could not independently authenticate all of the tapes, but the tapes mentioned in this article are consistent with interviews and previous report through Time. The Biden campaign did not dispute that Hunter and James Biden were involved in negotiating the deal with the Chinese company.
The records clearly indicate that Hunter Biden viewed the last name as a valuable asset, angrily citing his “family mark”As the reason it is valuable to the proposed business.
The documents also show that the countries Hunter Biden, James Biden and their associates planned to target for deals overlapped with countries where Joe Biden had previously been involved as vice president. A 42 page plan includes a section specifically highlighting the role of former Vice President Biden in facilitating increased trade with Colombia, which is one of the targets of the joint venture, with Luxembourg, Oman and Romania.
Hunter Biden’s role in the deal, according to one of the documents, “was the key to building the relationship, sending goodwill around the president, ”referring to Ye Jianming, the president of CEFC.
Time declared in 2018 that Mr. Ye met privately with Hunter Biden at a Miami hotel in May 2017, where the Chinese executive proposed a partnership to invest in U.S. infrastructure and energy deals. The planning for the Miami meeting appears to be reflected in some of the messages posted by Mr. Bobulinski.
The documents indicate that CEFC China initially announced it would send $ 10 million early 2017 at the joint venture.
CEFC focused on trading the future of oil and securing rights to overseas oil fields in conflict-torn regions such as Chad, South Sudan and Iraq. She was looking to expand her global businesses, both as an energy company and as a project funder, and she turned to Hunter and James Biden and their associates, including Mr. Bobulinski, for help them find new agreements.
A first version of the business plan stated that Hunter and James Biden and their American associates “have forged alliances with the highest levels of government, banking and business.”
What happened to the case?
As of August 2017, there were signs of problems with the deal. Mr Bobulinski wrote to CEFC noting that the promised payment of $ 10 million had not been deposited to the bank account of the American partners.
There is conflicting information as to whether any of this money has already been delivered by the Chinese partner. An election-year investigation into allegations of corruption against the Bidens by two Senate committees, which found no evidence of undue influence or wrongdoing on the part of the former vice president, suggested that money CEFC could have passed, prompting Mr Bobulinski to ask James Biden if that was the case in a recent message.