Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general, made several assertions Tuesday about shady business dealings by Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Some of Bondi's remarks to the Republican National Convention were accurate, others were misleading.
Bondi attacked the Bidens for their work in Ukraine when Vice President Biden led the U.S. government's anti-corruption campaign in Ukraine, and Hunter Biden secured a lucrative post on the board of a gas company there.
"We all know about Joe’s son, Hunter Biden," Bondi said Tuesday. "A corrupt Ukrainian oligarch put Hunter on the board of his gas company, even though he had no experience in Ukraine or in the energy sector. None. Yet he was paid millions to do nothing."
Hunter Biden was on the board from 2014 to 2019 of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine's largest gas company for which he was paid as much$50,000 per month, according to the New York Times. Bondi's statement that Hunter Biden lacked experience in the energy sector is accurate.
However, there is no evidence that Hunter Biden was involved in wrongdoing. Nor is it unusual for Ukrainian companies to burnish their credentials by placing prominent people on their boards, according to a former U.S. diplomat. For example, Cofer Black, who served as George W. Bush's CIA counterterrorism chief, joined Burisma's board in 2017.
Joe Biden has acknowledged that his son's work in Ukraine had created the appearance of a conflict of interest and that his son regretted taking the seat on the board.
"He said he regretted having done it," Biden said on NBC earlier this year. "Speaks for himself. He's a grown man."
Hunter Biden acknowledged in an interview with ABC that he likely would not have been offered the job had his father not been vice president. However, he said he served the company honorably and had done nothing improper.
Bondi also re-aired a false claim that Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who had investigated Burisma.
"Recently reported information revealed that a few months after Hunter Biden joined that corrupt company’s board, the Obama-Biden State Department began doing business with them, even when it remained under investigation for corruption," Bondi said. "And it gets worse: that very same company was being investigated by a Ukrainian prosecutor. Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless that same prosecutor was fired, and then he was fired."
Bondi toes the line here, suggesting the reason Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor was to protect his son. That assertion has been debunked.
Biden forced out the prosecutor for the opposite reason. Not because Viktor Shokin had been investigating Burisma but Shokin hadn't pursued corruption among the country's politicians. Shokin's inaction prompted international calls for his ouster and ultimately resulted in his removal by Ukraine's parliament.
Moreover, Shokin's office had investigated Burisma, but the probe focused on a period before Hunter Biden joined the company, according to the country's anti-corruption bureau.
Left unsaid by Bondi is President Trump's impeachment by the House of Representatives for pressuring Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden by withholding military aid and a White House visit. The Senate acquitted Trump.
Bondi also used the convention stage to re-air claims about the younger Biden’s business interests in China, suggesting that the Chinese sought to curry favor with the Obama administration.
The former Florida attorney general said Biden, while vice president, traveled to China with “Hunter along for the ride.”
“In Beijing, Hunter didn’t just go sightseeing. He had meetings with his Chinese bank partners,” Bondi said. “Hunter even arranged for his dad to meet with one of the partners. Ten days later, those Chinese communist bankers approved millions to go to Hunter’s firm and those bankers work for the Chinese Communist Party, which oppresses their people, cheated American workers for decades and covered up a deadly virus. To this day, Hunter controls a 10% stake in that firm.”
It is true that Hunter Biden traveled to Beijing with his father in 2013. While in the Chinese capital, according to an account in the New Yorker, Hunter Biden arranged for his father to meet China-based business associate Jonathan Li, linked to the investment firm, BHR, where the younger Biden served as a board member.
“Afterward, Hunter and Li had what both parties described as a social meeting,” the New Yorker reported. “How do I go to Beijing, halfway around the world, and not see them for a cup of coffee?” he said.
Hunter Biden’s attorney George Mesires said that his client, who resigned his post last year, had not received any compensation for being on the BHR board, nor did he receive any equity in it while Joe Biden was vice president.
The former vice president’s son also has pledged not serve on boards of foreign companies if his father is elected president.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What Pam Bondi's RNC attacks on Hunter Biden got right — and wrong