When President-elect Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, confirmed this week that a federal investigation into his “tax affairs” was under way, it was not immediately clear what exactly he was referring to.
But his statement reignited scrutiny of his business and financial dealings, which were brought up repeatedly by President Donald Trump and other Republicans during Biden’s presidential campaign this year.
“I learned yesterday for the first time that the US Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” Hunter Biden said on Wednesday.
While there is no indication that the president-elect is caught up in the investigation into his son’s financial affairs, Biden is in a precarious position as he is currently mulling his nominee for attorney general, the person who will oversee the Justice Department investigating Hunter.
Specific details about what the Justice Department is investigating are still elusive, but several US news outlets have shed some light on the investigation.
Here is a look at what we know so far.
Work in China
The investigation began two years ago, before Biden kicked off his presidential campaign, and at least some of the focus is on Hunter’s past work in China, The Associated Press news agency reported.
One aspect of the investigation involves whether he failed to report income from his China-related business deals, The Washington Post said.
However, it “is not connected to the attacks the Trump campaign and their allies made against Hunter during the campaign”, a person familiar with the Hunter Biden investigation told the US newspaper.
The New York Times reported that the US attorney’s office in Delaware is leading the investigation, which also included probes into potential criminal violations of money laundering laws, in addition to tax laws.
People familiar with the inquiry told the Times that the FBI was unable to gather enough evidence for a prosecution on the money laundering probe, however.
The newspaper also said the probe is focused on Hunter and some of his associates and no other Biden family members.
Separately, US news outlet Politico reported that federal authorities are investigating Americore, a for-profit business that operated rural hospitals in Pennsylvania in which Joe Biden’s brother, James, was involved.
FBI agents have been asking about James Biden’s role in the business, Politico reported.
Trump vs Hunter Biden
Trump spent months on the campaign trail trying to tie Hunter Biden’s business dealings to Joe Biden, making it a key part of his stump speeches and directly going after Biden on the debate stage in September.
“Once you became vice president he made a fortune in Ukraine, in China, in Moscow and various other places,” Trump said during the first presidential debate.
“Lock up the Bidens … Lock them up. Can you imagine if my kids did what this guy Hunter’s doing?” Trump said during a rally in Macon, Georgia on October 16. “And when you look at what they get away with … And by the way, Biden’s brother, try that one.”
In October, the New York Post published a series of 2015 emails, including one that purported to show Hunter Biden arranging a meeting between a Ukrainian businessman and then-Vice President Joe Biden.
While there was a dispute as to the authenticity of the emails, Trump and Republicans treated the report as “smoking gun” evidence that the Bidens were up to something nefarious.
Joe Biden, in a late October interview with CBS News, called the story “a smear campaign” orchestrated by Russia and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Hunter also played an indirect role in Trump’s impeachment earlier this year. The president was impeached by the US House of Representatives over allegations that he illegally tried to persuade Ukraine’s president to dig up damaging political dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.
On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to tie the latest Hunter Biden revelations to his continuing effort to claim victory in the presidential election.
Trump quoted a New York Post article that read, “10% of voters would have changed their vote if they knew about Hunter Biden.”
Trump ended his tweet by falsely declaring, “But I won anyway!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2020