Hunter Biden In Ukraine
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to stay with the subject of this phone call between President Trump and Ukraine's leader. Multiple news outlets have reported that one of the alleged topics of discussion was Hunter Biden, son of former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. That made us curious about why Hunter Biden would be of interest to President Trump, so we've called Adam Entous. He's a staff writer for The New Yorker, and he wrote a lengthy piece earlier this summer profiling Hunter Biden.
Adam Entous, thanks so much for joining us.
ADAM ENTOUS: It's a pleasure to be here.
MARTIN: So, as we mentioned, you wrote a lengthy piece about Hunter Biden. You revealed a lot about his personal struggles. But now he's in the headlines because, as we said, Congress and multiple news organizations are trying to find out if President Trump was encouraging or pressuring Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden's ties to Ukraine. So the first question I have is, does Hunter Biden actually have any ties or business dealings with Ukraine?
ENTOUS: In 2014, while his father was overseeing in many ways U.S. policy towards Ukraine, he took a lucrative seat on the board of a company called Burisma, which is a major energy company in Ukraine. And he did it without consulting with his father. Some aides to Biden at the State Department and in the Obama White House were uncomfortable with it, but they did not raise their concerns as far as I could tell with Joe Biden until much later.
MARTIN: And now what is it that President Trump and through his - one of his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York - what is it that they're pounding on now or intimating now?
ENTOUS: I would say that those who have sought to make a story of this initially focused on the decision by Hunter Biden to take this lucrative deal. But starting late last year and really kind of earlier this year in March timeframe, Giuliani and his allies have been pushing allegations that Joe Biden when he was vice president used his office to put pressure on the Ukrainian president at the time to fire a prosecutor who they allege was investigating Hunter Biden and the company that had him on the board.
I looked very closely at this and spoke to officials who were involved in that. And I understand the first example of the questions about whether or not he should have taken this job in the first place. I think that is a legitimate topic to be discussed and suggests questionable judgment that was made by Hunter. But in the case of his father using his office to fire this prosecutor, what I found was to the contrary. That prosecutor was not investigating his son or the company and is merely claiming that he did in retrospect.
MARTIN: Does Hunter Biden still hold this position?
ENTOUS: He resigned the position on the board earlier this summer and basically decided that it just wasn't worth the heat for himself and for his father.
MARTIN: Is there anything about this story that you feel deserves scrutiny apart from the partisan interests of particular people? I mean, it obviously is no secret. I mean, former vice president Joe Biden has made the point that Mr. Trump and his allies are pounding on this because they want to weaken him as a candidate. And your reporting suggests that there's truth to that. But is there anything apart from partisan interests that bears scrutiny now?
ENTOUS: I think this is largely driven by partisan interests. You know, Rudy Giuliani is doing this because he thinks this is a way of bringing Biden down a notch and maybe creating the impression that the questions that have been raised about Trump and his family and their business activities are not all that different from Joe Biden and the way his family has operated.
I think that's the objective here - is to create a more even playing field between these two candidates. The irony here is that, you know, they're accusing Hunter of using his name to profit. And the irony of that, of course, is when you look at the Trump family, you see examples of that in Trump's children. It's frankly not all that different than what they're accusing Hunter Biden of doing.
MARTIN: That's Adam Entous, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.
Adam, thanks so much for joining us.
ENTOUS: A pleasure to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.