One thing about former Vice President Joe Biden, a top 2020 presidential contender, has become perfectly clear — the questions about his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine are really getting under his skin.
Asked about his son’s Ukraine ties by a Democrat voter in Iowa on Thursday, Biden couldn’t take it anymore. He lashed out at the man, calling him “a damn liar.” But Biden needs to come up with some real answers instead of getting angry — because the questions just aren’t going away.
Voters want real answers
Biden’s lack of a “clear and cogent message” in response to questions about his son’s lucrative and questionable position on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma — at the same time the former vice president took the Obama administration’s lead role in dealing with Ukraine — is presenting a problem for voters, including some who otherwise support his bid for the presidency, Politico reported.
“He needs to be prepared to answer questions about it. And I don’t think he is. I don’t think he’s come up with an answer,” Carol Wickey, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, told Politico.
“Loving his kid to death and not doing anything wrong is not an answer,” the 78-year-old voter added. “And I, as someone who thinks he’s a really decent human being, when I first started hearing about the Hunter connection, it bothered me. I wanted an answer because it doesn’t look good. It’s a bad perception.”
Democrat voter Ann Gibney compared Biden’s testy exchange with the retired farmer on Thursday to the president, and said, “He shouldn’t act like Trump. We don’t need that.” Gibney added that she didn’t like Trump’s focus on the Hunter/Ukraine issue, but added, “some people have real questions about this and he needs to respect that.”
Even some supporters who approved of how he’d handled the confrontation with the voter. Cedar Rapids Democrat Shannon Hannen thought Hunter’s job in Ukraine represented “poor political judgement” and that Biden should go ahead and just admit “we made a mistake” so everyone could move on.
Deny and deflect
But admitting to making a mistake seems to be the last thing Biden wants to do. Instead, he seems to feel that it’s enough to continue insisting there was “nothing wrong” with his or his son’s actions in Ukraine, as he did in the October Democratic debate, when CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked him, “If it’s not okay for a president’s family to be involved in foreign businesses, why was it okay for your son when you were vice president?”
Biden simply insisted, “Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong.”
In a Friday interview with NPR, Joe Biden said that he would not comply with a subpoena if Republicans call on him to testify about Ukraine in a Senate impeachment trial, calling it a “Trump gambit” to “divert attention.”
He also denied being warned that Hunter Biden’s Burisma position had the appearance of a conflict of interest. “Nobody warned me about a potential conflict of interest,” Biden told NPR. “I never, never heard that once at all.”
State Department official George Kent testified in October that he warned then-Vice President Biden’s staff in 2015 that Hunter’s position “could create the perception of a conflict of interest,” but was reportedly blown off.