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Highlights from the transcript of Hunter Biden’s closed-door interview with House Republicans

By Jeremy Herb, Melanie Zanona, Annie Grayer and Marshall Cohen, CNN

Hunter Biden unequivocally denied that his father was ever involved in his business dealings or took any government actions on his behalf during a roughly six-hour deposition Wednesday where President Joe Biden’s son frequently clashed with the Republicans questioning him.

House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry is built upon the still-unproven notion that Joe Biden abused his powers as vice president to enrich himself and his family, through Hunter Biden’s vast overseas business portfolio.

Hunter Biden accused Republicans of embracing conspiracy theories to target his father, while needling them for failing to investigate another family member of a president – Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner – for his foreign business dealings.

“All I know is this: My father was never involved in any of my business, ever,” Hunter Biden said, according to a transcript of the interview released Thursday evening. “Never received a cent from anybody or never benefited in any way. Never took any actions on behalf in any way. And I can absolutely, 100% state, that is not just in my case but in every family member’s case.”

House Oversight Chairman James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, has said that the next step in the GOP impeachment inquiry – which is facing a heavy dose of skepticism from some corners of the House GOP conference – will be a public hearing with Hunter Biden. Wednesday’s transcript offered a potential preview of how contentious such a hearing would be.

Here are key takeaways from Hunter Biden’s deposition:

Hunter Biden says he was ‘drunk and probably high’ when he name-dropped father in WhatsApp message to Chinese associate

Hunter Biden testified that he was “out of my mind” and “drunk and probably high” when he sent a WhatsApp message to a Chinese associate in 2017 stating that he was “sitting here with my father.”

Hunter Biden told lawmakers during his closed-door deposition Wednesday that his father was not actually sitting next to him, even as he insisted he had no recollection of sending the message in the first place.

“My father was not sitting next to me. My father had no awareness. My father had no awareness of the business that I was doing. My father never benefited from any of the business that I was doing,” Hunter Biden said, according to the interview transcript.

Hunter Biden also noted the message was sent to the wrong recipient – to someone who shares the same name last “Zhao” and was not connected to the CEFC – which Hunter said “is the best indication of how out of my mind I was at this moment in time.”

The WhatsApp message, in which Hunter Biden name drops his father as he demanded payment, has been the subject of heavy scrutiny by GOP investigators.

The comment came during yet another combative exchange between Hunter Biden and House Republicans, with the president’s son calling their questions “ridiculous” and lawmakers accusing him of “filibustering.”

Hunter challenged GOP to prove that he sent money to his father

During a heated moment in his deposition, Hunter Biden challenged GOP lawmakers to prove that he sent money to his father other than a small car loan repayment.

“I appreciate the job that you have. I truly do. I appreciate the job that you all have. But I am telling you this: is that if you can show me where any money that I’ve ever had went to my father, other than, for instance, the repayment of the $1,300 for a loan for a truck – OK?” Hunter Biden said.

The quip was sparked by a comment from an unidentified questioner, according to the transcript, who accused Hunter of having “ripped off your business partner.”

Hunter Biden was referring to a repaid car loan that Republicans previously claimed could have been evidence of payments from overseas business dealings flowing from Hunter up to his father.

Asked about a 2017 email from a business associate suggesting that Joe Biden, then a private citizen, should have a financial stake in a business agreement – that Hunter Biden should hold money “for the big guy” – Hunter Biden said that was “pie in the sky.”

“All I know is that what was executed in the agreement, and the agreement didn’t have anything to do with my father,” Hunter Biden said.

Hunter Biden said he never crossed ‘very bright lines’ of asking dad to help his business partners

Under sympathetic questioning from House Democrats, Hunter Biden explained how he separates his business activities from his relationship with his father, who became a senator when he was 2 years old.

“It’s just a natural family relationship. I was a professional adult, and I had my business, and my dad had his business,” Hunter Biden said.

“There was one thing that we – that I was fully aware of my entire life, is that my dad was an official of the United States government, and there were very bright lines that I abided to and that I was very, very cognizant of,” he continued. “And I made certain that I never engaged with my father in asking him to do anything on my behalf or on behalf of any client of mine.”

However, there are indications that Hunter Biden did blur these lines at times. There isn’t evidence supporting the GOP claims that Joe Biden was in business with his father, or that he abused his government positions to enrich his family. But there are a few examples where Hunter Biden introduced business partners to his father, or when he invoked his father’s name to close potential deals.

Hunter Biden pressed GOP to investigate Jared Kushner and Saudi Arabia

Hunter Biden pushed back on Republican questions about the money he received from Chinese businesses by pointing to the $2 billion Saudi Arabia invested in a private equity firm created by Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

“The question being asked, that you’re stating, is that my father said that I never received any money from China, the government of China. Unlike Jared Kushner, I’ve never received money from a foreign government,” Hunter Biden said in response to a question from Republican staff.

He knocked Republicans later in the interview for not investigating the money Kushner’s firm received after he left the White House in 2021.

“When Jared Kushner flies over to Saudi Arabia, picks up $2 billion, comes back, and puts it in his pocket, OK, and (Trump) is running for President of the United States, you guys have any problem with that?”

“The clock has stopped,” interjected Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican.

“No, the clock has not stopped. Do you guys have any problem with that? I’m asking. It’s unbelievable to me,” Hunter Biden responded.

Gaetz and Hunter Biden clash over Hunter’s drug use

Gaetz and Hunter Biden engaged in a tense exchange over Hunter Biden’s drug use after the Florida Republican asked the president’s son, “Were you on drugs when you were on the Burisma board?”

“Mr. Gaetz, look me in the eye. You really think that’s appropriate to ask me?” Hunter responded.

“Absolutely,” Gaetz shot back.

“Of all the people sitting around this table, do you think that’s appropriate to ask me?” Hunter pressed. Hunter did not explain why he was pushing back.

“Yeah. Are you going to answer it?” Gaetz asked again.

After some back and forth with Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, who had said that was outside the scope and relevance of the impeachment inquiry, Hunter Biden said: “I will answer it this way: I have been absolutely transparent about my drug use. Again, I spoke to you all earlier this morning about that. I’m sorry; I’m an addict. I was an addict. I have been in recovery for over 4-and-a-half years now, Mr. Gaetz. I work really, really hard at it. Let me answer. I work really hard at it, under an enormous amount of pressure.”

Hunter continued: “Was I an addict? Yes, I was an addict. What does that have to do with whether or not you’re going to go forward with an impeachment of my father other than to simply try to embarrass me?”

Hunter Biden slams GOP for recycling debunked claim about Ukrainian prosecutor

Hunter Biden forcefully pushed back on Republicans after they brought up a long-debunked claim that Joe Biden got a Ukrainian prosecutor fired to protect his son’s lucrative business dealings in the country.

“That’s the exact opposite of the truth,” Hunter Biden said.

He walked through the true version of events that has become familiar to fact-checkers since 2019: Despite the GOP claims, the prosecutor Victor Shokin was not investigating Burisma at the time. Joe Biden did push for Shokin’s ouster, but that was consistent with bipartisan US policy and the policy of European nations too. And getting Shokin fired would’ve increased, not decreased, scrutiny of Burisma.

Hunter Biden pinned the resurgence of the false narrative on Alexander Smirnov, a longtime FBI agent who was indicted earlier this month on charges of lying to authorities. The Justice Department says Smirnov fabricated a story about the Bidens taking massive bribes from Burisma to get Shokin fired.

“The most important point that I’d like to add and for once and for all here is that we can all agree is that there is not a single person other than Alexander Smirnov who says that Shokin, that Shokin was fired because I was on the board of Burisma,” Hunter Biden told the committees. “It’s literally the exact opposite, and that has been a fact now since it was first claimed. It is a fact. I’m telling you. It is a fact.”

He testified that he never spoke to his father about Shokin.

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