ABC News allowed Hunter Biden to get away with the claim he did not make “one cent” from his company’s mega-deal with a Chinese bank that is a subsidiary of the Chinese government — when its own past reporting has said just the opposite.
During the sit-down interview, ABC’s Amy Robach set up the segment about Hunter’s China deal with the background on President Trump’s desire to look into Hunter’s shady $1.5 billion — with a “B” — deal with the Chinese bank (starts at around 5:03)::
ROBACH: Also on Trump’s list of accusations against Hunter Biden: that Hunter flew on Air Force Two with his father during an official government trip to China in 2013, leveraging that connection for financial gain in an investment deal with Chinese businessman Jonathan Li.
What Robach’s question omitted is that the deal was not just with an individual businessman but with the Bank of China — a subsidiary of the Chinese government itself.
She then asks Hunter directly:
ROBACH: The president has repeatedly said you have received $1.5 billion, despite no experience and for no apparent reason. Obviously fact checkers have said that that is not true.
HUNTER: This literally has no basis in fact in any way.
ROBACH: Have you received any money from that business dealing?
ROBACH: At all?
HUNTER: Not one cent.
ROBACH: Definitely not 1.5 billion.
HUNTER: It’s crazy. They feel as though they have the license to go out and say whatever they want.
Hunter is then allowed to trash Trump and his family as liars while Robach, who has just lauded fact checkers and their fact checking, says nothing about the fact that — and this is important — according to her own network’s reporting, and Hunter’s own attorney, Hunter has a ten percent stake in BHR, the company that made that mammoth $1.5 billion China deal.
Just a few months ago, ABC aired an in-depth report on Hunter’s shady business dealings that included this nugget (starts at about the 2:00 minute mark):
This video shows Chinese diplomats greeting Vice President Biden as he arrives in Beijing in December of 2013. Right by his side? His son Hunter. Less than two weeks later, Hunter’s firm had new business, creating an investment fund in China, involving the government controlled Bank of China, with reports they hopes to raise $1.5 billion. Hunter still plays a role in the fund. His lawyer says his stake is worth about half a million dollars.
Where was Robach’s followup question? Where was her oh-so-vital fact checking? Why did she let him get away with saying “not one cent” when her own network reported just a few months ago that he had equity in the firm that made a massive $1.5 billion deal?
Obviously, Hunter is playing a semantic game with that “not one cent” comment. Hunter’s attorney appears to do the same in a statement he released just two days ago, on October 13, 2019:
Hunter neither played a role in the formation or licensure of the company, nor owned any equity in it while his father was Vice President. He served only as a member of its board of directors, which he joined based on his interest in seeking ways to bring Chinese capital to international markets. It was an unpaid position.
To date, Hunter has not received any compensation for being on BHR’s board of directors. He has not received any return on his investment; there have been no distributions to BHR shareholders since Hunter obtained his equity interest.
So Hunter hasn’t “received” “one cent” because there has been no payout to investors. There was no direct commission for that deal, which dum-dums would obviously suspect like he’s a bottom-run sales rep. But here’s the rub, according to no less than FactCheck.org: Hunter might not have been paid “one cent” yet, but he is still could be looking at an eventual payoff that hits the $20 million mark:
[Hunter’s lawyer George] Mesires told the New York Times that while Hunter Biden now has a 10% stake in BHR, which he acquired through a company he created named Skaneateles LLC, “there have been no distributions to the shareholders since Hunter has been an equity owner.”
But that doesn’t mean Biden won’t eventually make millions from the deal. Steven Kaplan, who conducts research on issues in private equity, venture capital, entrepreneurial finance, corporate governance and corporate finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, told us that a private equity fund with $2 billion under management will typically generate fees over its life of hundreds of millions of dollars.
“It is difficult to imagine, if not incomprehensible, that a 10% stake in those economics is worth only $420K,” Kaplan told us via email. “The distinction they appear to be making is they capitalized the management company with $4.2 M even if the fund manages $2 B. The value of that management company is likely far in excess of $4.2 M if they are managing $2 B.”
Kaplan pointed to two large publicly traded private equity firms for reference, both of which have a market value of about 10% of the assets under their management. Using that as a rough guide, that would put the value of Hunter Biden’s share closer to $20 million, he said.
Basically, it looks as though Hunter claiming not have made one cent off the China deal is like a CEO claiming he was not paid one cent to run a company because his compensation came from stocks or bars of gold or pearls or the gift of a home. But the fact is this: any deal that increases the value of the company that Hunter Biden has a stake in — and a $1.5 billion deal with a bank owned by one of the world’s biggest economies does just that — is a deal where Hunter Biden has a financial interest.
Maybe ABC will reveal Hunter’s semantic dishonesty when the rest of the interview airs later tonight. Maybe Robach will ask him what he has “earned” or “gained” as a result of the deal, rather than “received.” If not, it is a gross dereliction of duty on the network’s part. And all of this comes just one day after ABC was caught presenting 2014 video from a Kentucky gun range as video of Turkish military operation against the Kurds.