Trump Brings Man Claiming Biden Business Relationship to Debate
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg)

Trump Brings Man Claiming Biden Business Relationship to Debate

President Donald Trump brought a guest to his debate with Joe Biden on Thursday, a man named Tony Bobulinski who claimed without evidence to have discussed a business venture in China with the former vice president and his son.

The gambit was intended to cast doubt on Biden’s claims that he and his son have never discussed Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings. But it raised more questions about an 11th-hour campaign by Trump and his associates to circulate derogatory information about Biden of mysterious origin.

Bloomberg News cannot verify that Bobulinski has any connection to Hunter Biden or his father. Bobulinski, in an appearance before reporters traveling with Trump about two hours before the debate, declined to take questions and, while saying he had documents to corroborate his claims, did not provide them.

A spokesman for Joe Biden, Andrew Bates, said in a statement that the former vice president “has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever. He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him.”

Bates noted that Biden has released tax returns dating to 2016 and that they do not show any foreign payments to the former vice president.

The Trump campaign’s surprise reveal of Bobulinski portends another hostile debate between the president and Biden. Trailing the former vice president badly in both national polls and polls of some key battleground states, the president has seized on unconfirmed reports fed to conservative media outlets by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to try to portray his opponent as corrupt.

The move was reminiscent of a pre-debate act by Trump in 2016, when he brought several women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual impropriety to a debate with Clinton’s wife, Hillary, then the Democratic nominee.

Bobulinski told reporters that Hunter Biden recruited him to help run an investment firm to be called “Sinohawk Holdings,” backed by a Chinese energy company, and that he personally discussed the plans with the former vice president during an hour-long meeting in 2017, after Biden left public office. But the venture was never funded.

He said he would provide three mobile phones containing what he described as corroborating materials to the FBI. He declined to take questions.

“I have heard Joe Biden say he has never discussed business with Hunter. That is false,” he said. “I have first-hand knowledge of this because I’ve directly dealt with the Biden family, including Joe Biden.”

A report released by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security Committee in September was critical of Hunter Biden’s foreign activities, alleging he created a potential conflict of interest for his father. But the report concluded it’s “not clear” whether the younger Biden had any impact on Obama administration policy and did not allege the former vice president or his son broke the law. The Senate document makes no mention of Bobulinski by name or Sinohawk Holdings.

Republicans on the Senate committee have reached out to Bobulinski as they investigate the veracity of his claims, according to a committee spokesman. Bobulinski said he would meet with them.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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