Hunter Biden defends Ukraine and China business dealings

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The son of former US Vice-President Joe Biden has defended his foreign business dealings amid attacks by the White House and increasing media scrutiny.

Hunter Biden – who has had business ties in Ukraine and China in recent years – told ABC news that he had done “nothing wrong”.

But he admitted to “poor judgment”, leaving him open to political attacks.

His foreign work – and Donald Trump’s intervention – have sparked impeachment proceedings against the president.

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Mr Biden’s interview with ABC comes ahead of Tuesday evening’s Democratic debate, where Joe Biden – a 2020 frontrunner – will square off against 11 other presidential hopefuls.

What did he say?

Breaking his silence on his foreign business dealings, Hunter Biden, 49, dismissed claims of impropriety.

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“Did I do anything improper? No, and not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever. I joined a board, I served honourably,” Mr Biden said, adding that he did not discuss such business with his father.

But Mr Biden acknowledged the possible political ramifications of his work, saying his failure to do so previously demonstrated “poor judgment”.

“Did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah,” he said. “But did I make a mistake based upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not.”

Last week, after announcing he would step down as board member for a Chinese company, Mr Biden said that he would not work for any foreign-owned companies if his father is elected president.

What’s the controversy about?

Mr Biden’s foreign business ventures have pulled him to the epicentre of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump.

Media captionWhat we know about Biden-Ukraine corruption claims

The president and his allies have claimed that as vice-president the elder Biden encouraged the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor because the prosecutor was investigating Burisma, a gas company that employed Hunter Biden.

These allegations – though widely discredited – were raised by Mr Trump in a 25 July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

This call has fuelled the Democratic-led impeachment investigation. The inquiry is trying to establish whether Mr Trump withheld nearly $400m (£327m) in aid to nudge Mr Zelensky into launching an inquiry into the Bidens.

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Mr Trump has continued to seize on Mr Biden’s dealings in Ukraine and China to stage political attacks against Mr Biden and his father, charging both Bidens with corruption, without offering specific evidence.

In Tuesday’s interview, Mr Biden dismissed the president’s claims as a “ridiculous conspiracy idea”.

Democratic debate

This latest chapter on Hunter Biden comes just hours before his father appears in Westerville, Ohio for his fourth Democratic debate.

Mr Biden will be one of twelve 2020 hopefuls on stage Tuesday night, making it the biggest presidential primary debate in US history.

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Image caption

Mr Sanders, Mr Biden and Ms Warren on stage at the Houston debate in September

The former vice-president joins Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders as one of three leading candidates.

Mr Biden’s initial lead has narrowed in recent polls, with an 8 October Quinnipiac poll finding Ms Warren had overtaken Mr Biden among Democratic voters, by a narrow 29-26% margin.