Jonathan Turley: Joe Biden is proud of Hunter — Stephen Colbert’s embarrassing interview misses the mark

Jonathan Turley: Joe Biden is proud of Hunter -- Stephen Colbert's embarrassing interview misses the mark

We had breaking news Thursday night: Joe Biden is proud of his son Hunter.

After a blackout on the Hunter Biden scandal before the election, it often seems like the media is struggling to offer the appearance of coverage without actually asking questions that could be damaging for the president-elect.

That view of many was reinforced in the first interview with Biden about his son since the November election. It was conducted by CBS’ Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” 

Biden has refused to answer questions on the expanding scandal surrounding his son’s China connections so this was a big deal. However, the president-elect’s team arranged for the all-important question to be asked by a comedian on a late-night show.  

CBS is filled with hugely talented reporters who were left as pedestrians watching this fawning interview.

There was something not quite right about what unfolded on Thursday night. It was like the New York Met’s starting pitcher Jacob DeGrom and the Cleveland Indian’s Shane Bieber watching from the dugout as Dr. Anthony Fauci takes the mound as the starter in a season opener. The only difference is that this was clearly designed to be both the opener and closer for the media.

It did not even appear newsworthy that Biden was denouncing the Justice Department investigation as an example of “foul play” after CBS and other networks spent years denouncing Trump for calling the Russian collusion story a “deep state conspiracy” or a politically motivated hoax. When Biden dismisses such investigations, it is treated as manifestly true or at least not worthy of a challenging follow-up question.

For the record, I have written about the influence-peddling scheme of Hunter Biden and his uncle for years.

I have never had a reporter in private question whether this was an influence-peddling scheme or the Biden family’s history of using public office to enrich themselves. Indeed, it was once an open joke.

When Joe Biden pushed to put his entirely unqualified son Hunter on the board of Amtrak, the only justification that Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware could come up with in Committee was that Hunter Biden was qualified because “Hunter Biden has spent a lot of time on Amtrak trains.” It was like appointing him to a top Food and Drug Administration board because he “eats a lot.”

The Colbert interview was an utter embarrassment. Colbert gently raised the scandal and immediately framed it in terms of Republicans seeking to use it against Joe Biden. 

PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN: We have great confidence in our son.


JOE BIDEN: I am not concerned about any accusations that have been made against him. It’s used to get to me. I think it’s kind of foul play, but, look, it is what it is. And he’s a grown man. He is the smartest man I know. I mean, in pure intellectual capacity. And as long as he’s good, we’re good.

STEPHEN COLBERT: As a father, I understand that, and – and – and I – I admire that. But, I mean, in terms of your job as president, you can reach across the aisle to people who will be using this as an attack on you when it is such a personal attack because it’s about family?

JOE BIDEN: But if it benefits the country, yes. I really mean it.

Later, the president-elect’s team sought to spin the reference to “foul play” to say that Biden was referencing a long history of political attacks.

However, so was Trump when he attacked the Russian collusion investigation as part of a campaign against him.

In fairness to Trump, those collusion allegations collapsed early in the investigation and now all of the top Justice Department figures from James Comey to Sally Yates to Rosenstein say that they would not have approved the Carter Page surveillance if they knew then what they know today about the flawed basis for the investigation.  


There is comparably far more evidence supporting the investigation of Hunter Biden.

Moreover, Biden was clearly referring to this investigation when he said “I think it’s kind of foul play, . . .  it is what it is.”  

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This follows Biden’s repeated assertion that his son “did nothing wrong,” a claim that I and others have long challenged.

Even if you believe Hunter cannot be charged with a crime, the criminal code is not the only measure of wrongdoing. This was raw influence-peddling on a global scale. It was wrong in its own right.

What was most embarrassing about the Colbert interview is the careful avoidance of any specific or substantive question. It was the ultimate “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” interview.

Colbert framed the investigation in strictly political terms and how it affects Biden as a father and candidate. Moreover, this is not just about Hunter Biden. It is also about the president-elect Biden and whether he lied about his knowledge of the dealings and whether he knew about an influence-peddling scheme using his position. Either witnesses like former Hunter Biden business associate Tony Bobulinski are lying or Joe Biden is lying.

Bobulinski has given his allegations to the FBI under threat of prosecution. Biden has never uttered a word about Bobulinski.

There was not a single question from Colbert on Thursday about  how emails and witnesses, if true, would reveal that Biden has knowingly and repeatedly lied. To date, he has denied any knowledge of the son’s business dealings.  

Hunter Biden himself contradicted his father on that point but that was not enough to ask Joe Biden about his past denials.  

Likewise, Bobulinski, (who Hunter Biden showers with praise in the emails related to SinoHawk Holdings) contradicts Joe Biden in detailed accounts for their discussions of the dealings. Not a single question.

Email exchanges repeatedly reference Joe Biden while telling people not to use his name in writing. Not a single question.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden were listed as office mates with one of the Chinese figures with a need for their own keys to the office. No question.

Hunter Biden is shown in emails conversing about loans and dealings with the entire “Biden family.” Not a single question.  

Instead, the breaking news from Thursday’s interview is that Biden is proud of his son Hunter.

Now that I think about it, the selection of a late-night comedian for this interview was the perfect choice.


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