The Absurdity of the Hunter Biden Story

He met with people. And, get this, with his father!

Family members gather for a road naming ceremony with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, centre, his son Hunter Biden, left, and his sister Valerie Biden Owens, right, joined by other family members during a ceremony to name a national road after his late son Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, in the village of Sojevo, Kosovo, on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. President Joe Biden is the guest of honor during the street dedication ceremony naming the national road Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III.AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

I know that the purpose of the NY Post (and other infotainment coverage of Hunter Biden) is to generate clicks and whatnot but I am still amazed at how they are trying to make something out of nothing. Along the same lines as the piece I noted a few weeks ago is this one: Hunter Biden laptop shows dozens of meetings with dad, business partners. Basically, the previous piece showed that, shock of shocks, that Hunter had a contact list on his laptop. In this latest installment we find out he had a calendar and met with people! Including his own father!!

Hunter Biden met with his father at least 30 times at the White House or the vice president’s residence, often just days after he returned home from overseas business jaunts. 

The breakfasts, lunches and other gabfests between 2008 and 2016 raise questions about whether Hunter was relaying messages to his father on behalf of foreign clients, and cast new doubt on the president’s repeated denials that he had any role in his son’s shady overseas business dealings.

The meetings were found in a review of the personal calendar on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop.

Okay, so over an eight year period, a son met with his father at least thirty times (and sometimes at his residence!). I am not sure what the right word to describe this is, but I know that shocking doesn’t even cover it.

I mean, it cast new doubts!

And it raises questions!!

And, you know, gabfests!!!

Look, as James Joyner and I have both noted: Hunter is clearly trying to cash in on his name. If he has done anything illegal, he should be prosecuted. And look, if his father has engaged in unethical behavior, then let the consequences rain down. But the fact that Hunter has had some meetings to try to make some deals and then subsequently also met with his own father does not mean much of anything.

The article is basically a list of some people that Hunter met with and a lot of innuendo that deals were going down that might, somehow, be shady and/or involve then VP Biden. Stuff like this:

In another meeting with royalty, the crown prince of Yugoslavia told The Post he was hoping Hunter could put in a good word to his dad about possible help rehabbing their royal palace in Belgrade.

First, I have to admit that I did not know that Yugoslavia had a crown prince (and we won’t get into the fact that Yugloslavia isn’t even a country anymore).

Second, so a guy asked a guy to put in a good word to his very important father. Truly the stuff of scandalous scandals.

A lot of the piece is dedicated to Colombia (it gets its own sub-head and there are several file photos!). I assume that Post editors assume their readers have late-90s/early 2000s sensabilities and therefore find Colombia to be especially scary.

A March 2, 2012 entry notes a meeting with Joe Biden and Andrés Pastrana Arango, the former president of Colombia, whose business Hunter had been courting for months, emails on the laptop show.

In the interests of full disclosure, I too have met with Andrés Pastrana Arango, but at the time he was a Senator and recently defeated presidential candidate. (And I was asking about political parties and such, not investment deals, but still).

The piece goes on to suggest a possible connection to what I assume was the Oderbrecht scandal but mostly references some potential deal with the OAS. The Oderbrecht scandal was pretty massive, and it strikes me as wholly within the realm of the possible that Hunter Biden and friends might have been sniffing around. But, inhlaing metephorical aromas does not criminality make.

Beyond that, people talked about projects. Some meetings were had, some dinners consumed, but it is wholly unclear whether any money was made by Biden, let alone in a shady fashion.

Again: I think Hunter is very much cashing in on his name. But there has yet to be any evidence of illegality and especailly nothing that would implicate Joe Biden.

I know I should avoid these stories, but it is fairly remarkable, nonetheless, how much these Post stories drag out utterly mundane facts (Hunter had meetings! He tried to make money!) and cast it in sinister tones with absolutely no substance whatsoever. And then this stuff is massaged and regurgitated on FNC and politicianis like Elise Stefanik try to make political hay out it:

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik — who has promised to subpoena Hunter Biden should Republicans win back control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections — said it was more evidence of corruption.

“Hardly a day goes by without another revelation about how intimately involved Joe Biden was with his son Hunter Biden’s corrupt foreign business dealings. The fact that Joe was in meetings with senior foreign leaders on behalf of Hunter and his business associates while Vice President further proves that Joe has been lying to the American people,” Stefanik told The Post.

It will be quite the commentary on Republican politics that Hunter Biden’s meetings with various global elites a decade ago will be seen as a priority for a new House majority, but hearings about the storming of the capitol are just old news not worth paying attention to.


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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Jen says:

    Irony is completely dead. Trump installed his adult children in the White House, and they are absolutely pro-level at cashing in on the name (ALL of them).

    This “issue” is both very dumb and very exhausting.

  2. @Jen: that’s so they being the Trump’s worked for free tell us professor how the fuck did they cash in on their father’s name you people are ignorant

  3. wr says:

    Call me when Hunter Biden gets a two-billion dollar slush fund from Saudi Arabia.

  4. Mikey says:

    @Jen: @wr: This Hunter Biden nothingburger is just another reminder that every accusation the GOP makes is really a confession.

  5. M. Bouffant says:

    Four words: Jared Kushner, Saudi fund.

    Funny innit, that virtually every President w/ adult relatives has at least one who wants in, from Billy Carter to any number of Bushes. One idea: Don’t let close Presidential relatives be involved in any international dealings.

  6. Jen says:

    @M. Bouffant:

    “…virtually every President w/ adult relatives has at least one who wants in…”

    I’d be willing to bet that most of us have at least one of “that relative” in our family tree. Think of it this way: is there a relative (or two) from whom one would wish to keep the news, were one to win a large lottery jackpot?

    My answer is an emphatic yes.

  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Hunter Biden is the latest of the Benghazi, Pizzagate, Obama’s birth certificate, and But Her E-mails phony rage generators.
    Somewhere Jenos is touching himself inappropriately.

  8. Scott F. says:

    @Jen: @wr: @Mikey: Don’t worry folks. I’ve been assured that none of this scandal could possibly reflect poorly on President Biden until POTUS and his partisans are given an opportunity to tell their side of the story in hearings. I’m sure Biden can explain away these nefarious meetings with his son.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: I can not imagine such a thing happening in my family (when my parents died the 5 siblings all acted as mature, reasonable adults, and my parents had a fair sized estate), but I say that with the full knowledge that large amounts of money changes people. I saw it happen in my wife’s extended family after her father died, even warned her because I was seeing early warning signs that she was blind to. So having seen it first hand, I don’t discount the possibility.

    Not that I will ever have to worry about it. I don’t play the lottery.

  10. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Agreed.

    And, to be clear, I’m not even talking just about people getting greedy–I mean also the ones who would come out of the woodwork looking for backing for some ridiculous scheme or program, “let’s take a family holiday” which turns into some elaborate nonsense, etc.

    I have some relatives who I love dearly, who struggle to make smart money decisions. Not “spend it all on hookers & blow”-bad, more of a “huh, where did it all go”-bad.

    This is all to say I don’t think that Hunter, or even Trump’s kids, think that they are doing anything untoward by trying to monetize their relationships. They just don’t have the clarity of vision to realize it’s gross.

    I don’t routinely play the lottery (I am the type who will buy ONE ticket when the jackpot gets big, because it’s fun to dream). But I do know that were I ever to win, I’d claim the winnings through a trust (which you can do in NH), and keep it as secret as possible. This happened a few years ago in a nearby town, and to this day, as far as I know, no one knows who the family is–definitely the way to go IMHO.

  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Scott F.:
    I bet that made more sense in the native Russian.

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Randall taulbee: I’m torn. On the one side is the “evidence” (because the accusations have the same kind of weight) that Ivanka used her Dad’s name and current role to get favorable treatment for her tchotchke designer jewelry business in China, and Jared sold an essentially worthless mid-town building to Saudis connected to the royal family. And on the other is the reality that the “Trump Crime Family” is incompetent enough at graft that they weren’t even getting change from the sofa levels of return from a several trillion dollar Federal budget.

    And on the third hand is the question of how much credibility should be given to the complaints of a guy who can’t even manage capital letters for both of his names. Are you this sloppy at One America Network, too?

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: “I’d be willing to bet that most of us have at least one of “that relative” in our family tree.”

    Even more important is that in some contexts, the phenomenon is known as “networking” and considered a positive quality.

  14. Assad K says:

    There is literally no equivalence for TFG spending so much time at his own golf courses and charging the government for the privilege.

  15. Gustopher says:

    Meanwhile, Pelosi’s husband is trading in stocks that will be affected by her role as House Majority Leader, and her votes.

    The Hunter Biden thing annoys me: Even if reporters want to ignore Republicans and be completely biased, it’s not like there’s a lack of perfectly good stories about prominent Democrats cashing in, there’s no reason to put so much on the First Failson.

    It’s not just partisan hackery, it’s lazy partisan hackery. People need to take more pride in their work. Imagine gathering a portfolio of your work, and discovering that you’ve spent months or years of your life on Hunter Biden. It’s a wasted life.

    It’s like being obsessed with Star Wars, but only ever seeing the original trilogy, and perpetually complaining about the third one because of the teddy bears. Even if you will never like anything else, there’s so much more out there to hate!

  16. Mikey says:

    @Randall taulbee: That you even ask this question reveals who is truly ignorant.

  17. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Somewhere Jenos is touching himself inappropriately.

    So much less inappropriate than when he touches other people.

  18. inhumans99 says:


    Not to defend Pelosi, but she seems to be on the record being okay with folks in Congress cashing in on the stock market, is it a bad look yes, but plenty of folks with an R and a D in front of their name engage in this behavior. I hate it when Democratic and Republican politicians flaunt that they have special knowledge that lets them cash-in, just infuriating.

    Also, lets stipulate that Randall is correct that Ivanka, Trump Jr., Jared, etc., were not paid. I want to ask you this Randall (or Comrade Randall, or whatever your actual name is) if Ivanka went on TV and said buy my stuff, and tons of folks did, do you think there would be so many folks interested in letting her cash-in on her product if her father, who just happens to be the President of the United States during the time she was hawking her wares and making bank did not crassly say buy my daughters stuff as loud and often as he could get away with it during his media and print appearances?

    Also, you do not think Trump saying to the Saudis, hey…I have a son-in-law that just happens to have some property that you might be interested in, what do you say that we have a chat, had no influence in Jared coming into a money windfall?

    I can be charmingly naïve at times, but c’mon, really? Also, while I have your ear Randall, I do have some property that the gators just happen to enjoy hanging out in available in Florida, we should chat Randall, it is a deal too good to pass up.

  19. Jen says:

    @Mikey: I literally thought that post was satire. Oops. 😀

    @Gustopher: The stock thing has bothered me for years. I’d love to see that loophole closed. I think any member of Congress and spouse should be required to hold assets in a blind trust for the duration of the time they serve (same with presidents, VPs, and members of the Supreme Court). If you’re in a position to both know detailed information AND you’re part of the governing process, you possess too much information to have it look above-board.

  20. DK says:
  21. Jen says:

    @Randall taulbee: Since that was (apparently?) a serious query, here’s the list, conveniently rounded up in a rather long and detailed piece in GQ:

    Key excerpts:
    The real estate sales

    Days before his inauguration in 2016, Donald Trump announced that he had given “complete and total” control of the Trump Organization to Don Jr. and Eric. In doing so, he dismissed critics who called on him to place his assets in a blind trust, arguing that transferring control to immediate family was sufficient to address any conflict-of-interest concerns. “No new deals will be done during my term(s) in office,” he promised.

    Since then, Forbes says, the brothers have sold off more than $100 million worth of Trump Organization real estate. That figure includes a $33 million sale of the company’s stake in a federally subsidized housing complex—a transaction Secretary of House & Urban Development Ben Carson had to approve—and a $3.2 million sale of land in the Dominican Republic last year, which Forbes called “the clearest violation of their father’s pledge to do no new foreign deals while in office.” Taxpayers cover the security costs of each business trip the pair makes—in the first two months of 2017 alone that included $97,830 for a trip to Uruguay, $53,155.25 for a trip to Vancouver, and $16,738.36 for a trip to Dubai, according to NBC News.

    In February 2017, the Trump Organization unloaded a $15.8 million Trump Park Avenue penthouse—a home formerly occupied by Jared and Ivanka—to Angela Chen, who runs a consulting firm with ties to Chinese government officials and (allegedly) Chinese military intelligence, says Mother Jones. A Forbes analysis found that this price was 13 percent more than that paid for a comparable unit a year earlier, and that it sold at a time when the building’s other units, on average, were selling for 25 percent less.


    The intellectual property in China

    Both Jared and Ivanka, who took a “formal leave of absence” from her eponymous fashion label to serve in her father’s White House, have taken full advantage of the benefits of their new jobs. In April, on the same day she and Kushner sat next to Chinese president Xi Jinping at a White House state dinner, the Chinese government gave its conditional approval for three trademarks granting Ivanka what the AP called “monopoly rights” to sell Ivanka-branded jewelry, bags, and spa services. China approved two more rounds of trademarks in May and June, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan government watchdog.

    In mid-2018, Ivanka shuttered her clothing brand altogether, citing a desire to focus on her work in Washington. However, she has since continued to seek potentially lucrative trademarks in China, leaving open the possibility that she could return to the brand after her time in public service concludes.

    The free advertising

    While the company was still active, Ivanka wasn’t shy about using the spotlight that comes with being the president’s daughter to goose sales of Ivanka-branded apparel and accessories. Journalists received a press release promoting a gold bracelet—starting at $8,800 and up to $10,800—that she wore during a 60 Minutes interview in November 2016. A few months later, Ivanka Trump’s entire line received an enthusiastic on-air endorsement from Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who called the clothing “wonderful” and urged Fox & Friends viewers to “go buy it today.” The White House said it “counseled” Conway in response.

    Plenty more at the link, including the Kushner 666 Fifth Avenue bailout, real estate investments, golf course deals, and more.

  22. Barry says:

    @Jen: “Irony is completely dead. Trump installed his adult children in the White House, and they are absolutely pro-level at cashing in on the name (ALL of them).”

    If you ever want to find the best hunter in the world, find somebody who has found an issue where the GOP isn’t already doing it 10x as much as they accuse the Democrats of doing it.

  23. Jax says:

    What blows me away is how many “conservative thinkers” show up who appear to have “no idea” that the Trump kids were doing this (and are still doing it) the entire time Trump was a candidate and then President. What kind of media ecosphere do they live in where they think that ALLLLLLLL of the Trump family, let alone Trump himself, was “working for free”?!

  24. @Jax: It is as I often have said about the Trump era, it is stunning, but not surprising.

  25. Jax says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I was pondering this the other day on a “polling” post about how so many of the respondents think the country is “on the wrong track”.

    I, too, feel the country is on the wrong track, mostly because slightly under half of “people who actually vote” are onboard with a generic “Stupid Hitler”. Doesn’t even have to be Trump, as long as he/she promises to punish those they disagree with.

    The cure to this would be to increase the voting pool by requiring voting from every legal citizen, but then we run into those pesky amendments that say they don’t have to. So fully half the country doesn’t care enough to vote, only to bitch, really.

    We are sooooooo fucked. I see no way out.

  26. Smooth Jazz says:

    Why am I not surprised. Of course, a far left blogger on a hard left platform will say “nothing to see here; let’s just all move along” when it applies to Biden & Dems. Just like you were all over the Don Jr fake “Trump Tower” Russia hoax story until it was revealed as Fake News like all the others. You were OK pinning fakery on Don Jr, but Hunter can do no wrong.

    Aside from videos showing Hunter cavorting with prostitutes and measuring crack, the issue is whether he influence peddled & traded on his father’s name at the detriment of US Gov’t security, not how much crack he snorts or how much of a sleazebag he is. I don’t think you know that answer to the influence peddling questions; Dems in Congress certainly have not looked into it, so I doubt you have anything to add except spinning for your side, conjecture and blindly claiming “no evidence.”

    I suspect when Repubs take Congress in Nov with subpoena power, we’ll get answers incuding confirmation of whether Biden is “The Big Guy” as has been suggested in some of the Emails. Until then you are just wish casting & hoping against hope this is all a nothingburger.

  27. @Smooth Jazz: Any chance you would be willing to explain how anything in NYP story is anything other than innuendo?

    I expect not, because you think a reference to “the Big Guy” constitutes evidence.

    It is literally a story that states he had meetings with people. That’s it. Meetings.

    The previous NYP story was simply reporting that he has a list of contacts on his computer!

    How does either of those things amount to anything?

    And yes, he is trying to cash in on his name. That is not, in and of itself, a crime. But, I have repeatedly noted that I don’t like it.

    And what do prostitutes or drugs have to do with the story under discussion? Notice how you aren’t even focusing on the story under discussion but have to pull other stuff out of the air to make you case (to be kind).

    In regards to Don Jr. and Trump Tower, you mean the meeting wherein he released his own e-mails stating that he was trying to get dirt on HRC?

    Look, you have got to up your game with actual evidence. You are getting more than tiresome.

  28. Until then you are just wish casting & hoping against hope this is all a nothingburger.

    The truly hilarious thing about this statement is as follows.

    1. You are the one wish-casting. You desperately want this to be a real story. You and the folks who constitute your media diet. But, again, meetings, contact lists, and a son trying to cash in on his dad’s name is not scandalous.

    2. I have repeatedly stated, and do so in this post that if he has done something illegal, he should be punished. Ditto his father. If they are guilty, let justice rain down. So, no, I am not hoping for anything. What I want, before assuming guilt, is evidence.

    Look, if all you want to do here is spout talking points, you are not welcome. It is tiresome and does not further the conversation.

    We (James and I) have been patient because, contrary to your assertions, we want a variety of POVs (note that I have engaged you in good faith on several posts, but all you do is just repeat stuff you’ve heard and that is neither interesting nor helpful).

  29. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    all over the Don Jr fake “Trump Tower” Russia hoax story until it was revealed as Fake News

    Here’s the thing, Mr. Smooth Jizz…it was NEVER revealed as a hoax or fake news.

  30. To the new commenter who wanted their first post to be an insulting and weirdly racist comment, that is not the way to get access to the site.

    And since I find myself having to police the comments, I will note to @Daryl and his brother Darryl that name-calling doesn’t help me out when trying to tell SJ to be a better debater. Plus it distracts from your correct point.

  31. DK says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    Just like you were all over the Don Jr fake “Trump Tower” Russia hoax story until it was revealed as Fake News like all the others.

    Oh, but we’re still on the story because Treason Trump colluded: he publicly called for Russia to steal emails, his scampaign met with Russian spies in Trump Tower to exchange election meddling for ending sanctions, and both his Russian spy campaign manager Paul Manafort (who previously helped Putin rig Ukrainian elections) and his Nazi campaign advisor Steve Bannon coordinated propaganda cyberattacks with the Kremlin and Wikileaks using stolen data.

    Then, Traitor Trump was impeached for illegally denying Ukraine military aid to blackmail Zelensky and weaken NATO on Putin’s behalf. Before Drama Queen Donnie repeatedly praised Putin’s escalation of his genocidal Ukraine war.

    Just because Dementia Donald and hard right radical extremists like are delusional, patholgical lying Putin-puppets who hate America, does not mean normal people have lost the plot.

    You tried tho. Badly, but you tried.

  32. Smooth Jazz says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “@Smooth Jazz: Any chance you would be willing to explain how anything in NYP story is anything other than innuendo? I expect not, because you think a reference to “the Big Guy” constitutes evidence.”

    Fair enough. I was trying to say that Hunter’s personal foibles is irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is influence peddling. My point was that we don’t really know what’s true or innuendo, since the Dem Congress & DC media have no interest in fully investigating the story, including whether Hunter Tony Bobulinski claim that Biden is the “Big Guy” is true.

    I don’t think we should dismiss Tony’s story or the questionable transactions referenced on the laptop out of hand without fully investigating. Biden has never addressed the questions and his denials have been weak.

    Only a Repub Congress with subpoena power can get to the bottom of whether any influence peddling occured. We do know the US Attorney in Delaware is investing if anything illegal occurred. So only time will tell if there is any “there there”.

  33. @Smooth Jazz: The problems with this position are multiple, but let me note three:

    1. The DOJ, regardless of who the president is, has to have a reason to investigate someone for criminal behavior. Just trying to cash in on one’s name isn’t criminal. If that were enough to launch an investigation, the DOJ would have cases from here to eternity.

    2. If Hunter was involved in criminality it seems like the laptop would reveal far more than contact lists, vague e-mails, and a calendar.

    3. The NYP and FNC wouldn’t be trying to make something out of nothing if they had something.

    Apart from the fact that it is clear that Hunter has benefitted from his last name, I am not sure what the basis of any of this is supposed to be. If we are a country of laws (and of basic fairness) there has to be a reason to criminally investigate someone (or to unleash congress on someone).

  34. If we want stricter ethics laws, then suggest that.

    But I simply do not know how a law can be contrived that would make it impossible for someone to not be able to use their lineage to their advantage.

    And even if someone is scrupulous in trying not to take advantage of their circumstances there is zero doubt that Kid of the Vice President (or Kid of the Senator) is going to have advantages that Kid of the Trash Collector won’t. It is impossible to avoid unless we are going to do away with last names and also require some weird anonymous treatment of the kids of prominent leaders. I am not sure how this would be accomplished.

  35. Jax says:

    @Smooth Jazz: We’re coming up on 6 YEARS of the Trump kids influence-peddling all over the world on the daily, while working as members of their father’s administration, and continuing after he lost. If only you were as concerned about actual corruption and influence-peddling instead of Hunter Biden’s imagined influence-peddling.

    I fully agree with Dr. Taylor….if it’s determined that what Hunter did was illegal, I don’t care if they lock his ass up. Same with the Trump kids.

    You don’t seem to feel that way. It only matters when it’s a Democrat doing it, you’re perfectly willing to completely ignore all wrongdoing by members of your “team”.

  36. @Jax: Indeed, indeed, and indeed.

  37. One the things especially vexing about this is that there is far, far, far more evidence of wrongdoing by Trump in and around 1/6 but somehow one ref in an email (e.g., the “Big Guy” thing) allegedly demands congressional hearings but 1/6 is just “meh”.

  38. Jax says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: There is far, FAR more wrongdoing by Trump throughout his entire business career, let alone what his kids have done once their father became the most powerful man in the world, and Smoothie seems to think….what, Joe Biden might be impeached by what Hunter Biden may or may not have done while Biden was Vice President 10 years ago?!

    It’s exhausting.

  39. @Jax: Indeed.