Watch as CNN Host Uncomfortably Listens to Reporter Outlining Hunter Biden’s Lack of Ethics

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The New Yorker’s Adam Entous appeared on Friday morning’s CNN Newsroom to sound off on impeachment and its connections to Joe and Hunter Biden. While he stated that he’s found “no evidence” of collusion amongst the two in Ukraine, he laid out a damning series of points about how, at best, Hunter has exhibited poor judgement. And on that latter point, co-host Poppy Harlow spent the segment sitting rather uncomfortable.

Harlow began by bemoaning all the “debunked allegations” that Hunter Biden has been facing and, after alluding to Entous’s July 1 profile of Hunter, Entous responded that there’s been “a drumbeat of criticism, because he was in the business world and there was always this allegation floating that he was getting these jobs because of his last name or because someone wanted to curry favor with his father and this always bothered Hunter.”

 

 

She then raised the concerns about Biden’s job with the Ukrainian gas company Barisma and inquired like a not-surprisingly-clueless CNNer about whether Hunter’s lucrative pay there was real.

Entous replied that the $50,000/month claim was indeed accurate and explained how Biden got the job plus what Barisma was looking to use him for (click “expand”):

Yeah. So, so, initially one of his partners actually was put on the board, a guy named Devin Archer and Devin Archer then brought Hunter in, and, you know, Hunter was working as an of counsel for a law firm and the idea was that Devin wanted to see if Archer could work with this new international board of directors for Barisma to put together a — you know, a kind of governance plan that would help the company appeal to western — western investors and so that's how Hunter sort of initially gets involved. He doesn't tell his father anything about it per the don't ask, don't tell policy to when he first got into the business world and he was eventually offered this position. The $50,000 a month? I've been told the same thing, but I was also told that it kind of depended on the month. Some months he was actually working more as a lawyer for them and he got paid more and in other months, he got paid less. Nonetheless it was a sizable chunk of change. He really had no substantial Ukraine experience. He had no Ukraine experience and no substantial, you know, experience in the energy sector at that stage in his career and so, you know, the suspicion was among people who worked for Joe Biden and some State Department and White House officials was this was an effort on the part of the Barisma to curry — to curry favor. 

It was during this answer that Harlow grew visibly uncomfortable seeing as how any discussion of Hunter Biden and Ukraine has been deemed a “conspiracy theory,” thus placing these actual facts in the same place that would normally be reserved for 9/11 truthers since that’s what CNN wants you to think.

Harlow interjected that she “want[s] to deal in fact because there's so much speculation out there, and there is zero evidence that Hunter Biden or Joe Biden did anything wrong here.” Eye roll. 

Asked to explain a Hunter quote in his profile about how Joe told him “I hope you know what you’re doing,” Entous knocked a Biden campaign statement about Hunter’s dealings as “rather vague.” He added that the problem has always been Biden aides feeling “too intimidated or don't feel comfortable raising the issue of Hunter with Joe Biden.”

The CNN host concluded by restating a question weekend host Michael Smerconish previously wondered to Entous, which was whether this entire situation could be boiled down to “just a case of bad optics.”

Entous’s final point brought relief to Harlow, but the first part again was uncomfortable seeing as how he argued that what Hunter Biden did in working for a Ukrainian energy company while his father was a point person on Ukraine (and foreign policy more generally) (click “expand”):

ENTOUS: Well, I think there’s two separate issues here. The issue of whether it was wise of Hunter Biden to take this position at Barisma when his father was guiding policy in Ukraine and, you know, the wisdom of Biden and Biden staffers, once they knew that, not to ask Hunter to step down. I think that is a legitimate subject of scrutiny. I’m not saying it’s illegal in any way. I'm just saying that's where the optics come into it and maybe it’s even worse than bad optics. It sort of undermined American policy of promoting, you know, fighting nepotism, fighting, you know, these kinds of problems that Ukraine has on a large scale. So that's one issue. The other issue is, did Joe Biden use his office in order to fire a prosecutor to protect his son? That's the one where I found no evidence to back up and a lot of evidence to the contrary. 

HARLOW: Yeah. There's just no evidence, and you're right, a lot of evidence to the contrary on that.

In the previous hour, senior international correspondent Matthew Chance told Harlow and co-host/former Obama administration official Jim Sciutto that the former Ukrainian prosecutor general is speaking out about the whistleblower complaint that he alleges, in Chance’s words, say things “about him” that “are not true.”

To see the relevant transcript from September 27's CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto
September 27, 2019
9:55 p.m. Eastern

POPPY HARLOW: The former top Ukrainian prosecutor, who is a key figure in the whistleblower complaint, is now talking, weighing in, calling some of the allegations inconsistent with the truth.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Matthew Chance joins us now from Ukraine. Matthews, tell us about Lutsenko and what specifically is he questioning about the whistleblower's complaint.

MATTHEW CHANCE: Well, I can tell you he is. I mean, he's the former Ukrainian prosecutor general. He has emerged after we've been wading through all these various documents, including the whistleblower testimony, as perhaps the key figure out of Ukraine, liaising with Rudy Giuliani and, by extension, with President Trump. Out of all these extremely contentions stories and speculations and conspiracy theories that we've been hearing so much about, including the role that Ukraine played in meddling in the 2016 election, and specifically that allegation against former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and the propriety of his intervention to have a former prosecutor in this country taken away from his post. Lutsenko, it seems, was the main source, for all of those stories, or at least he crystallized all those rumors in a way that Rudy Giuliani was able to sort of talk to him about and he wasn't just a guy who walked in off the street. Remember, this is the prosecutor general of this — f this country. He's saying that many of the allegations against him or the things that have been said about him in the whistleblower report are not true, but he hasn't specified which of those things he doesn't agree with.

HARLOW: That's an important specification to make, so let's hope he does that.

(....)

10:41 p.m. Eastern

HARLOW: Alright, well, Hunter Biden has been thrust into the political spotlight in the last week. President Trump and his allies have become focused on the former vice president's son, repeating debunked allegations about his foreign business dealings With me now is Adam Entous of The New Yorker. In July, he spent weeks with Hunter Biden working on this in-depth profile all about him: his personal life, his business dealings. Adam, thank you so much for being here. You cannot put your piece down once you start reading it and so much of it is tragic. I mean, what he has gone through as an addict and you're one of the few, if not the only journalist, who has ever spent this much time with Hunter Biden. He seems stunned talking to you about the focus he has become, especially for the president of the United States. 

ADAM ENTOUS: Yeah, if you go back and look through previous election cycles when his father was running, there — there was — there was a drumbeat of criticism, because he was in the business world and there was always this allegation floating that he was getting these jobs because of his last name or because someone wanted to curry favor with his father and this always bothered Hunter. He told me he felt like there was absolutely nothing he could do, no matter what job he took, people were gonna assume it was because of his father or to curry favor with his father and this is a source of kind of enduring frustration for him. Obviously what we're seeing happening now is a degree well beyond anything that Hunter has ever gone through in the past. 

HARLOW: And all of those questions, as your report, started coming into the Obama administration in the second term around 2014, around the time he joins the board of this Ukrainian gas company, Barisma. The New York Times at least has reported he was paid somewhere around $50,000 a month for his work. Do we know that to be factual? And also, if it is, can you tell us what he did for that company? What did that work entail?

ENTOUS: Yeah. So, so, initially one of his partners actually was put on the board, a guy named Devin Archer and Devin Archer then brought Hunter in, and, you know, Hunter was working as an of counsel for a law firm and the idea was that Devin wanted to see if Archer could work with this new international board of directors for Barisma to put together a — you know, a kind of governance plan that would help the company appeal to western — western investors and so that's how Hunter sort of initially gets involved. He doesn't tell his father anything about it per the don't ask, don't tell policy to when he first got into the business world and he was eventually offered this position. The $50,000 a month? I've been told the same thing, but I was also told that it kind of depended on the month. Some months he was actually working more as a lawyer for them and he got paid more and in other months, he got paid less. Nonetheless it was a sizable chunk of change. He really had no substantial Ukraine experience. He had no Ukraine experience and no substantial, you know, experience in the energy sector at that stage in his career and so, you know, the suspicion was among people who worked for Joe Biden and some State Department and White House officials was this was an effort on the part of the Barisma to curry — to curry favor. 

HARLOW: But —

ENTOUS: They never raised.

HARLOW: — that said, I want to deal in fact, because there's so much speculation out there, and there is zero evidence that Hunter Biden or Joe Biden did anything wrong here. That said, as you know, Adam, everyone is talking about one line in your reporting, that is about his work on that board and you quote him as saying, Hunter Biden, “dad said, I hope you know what you're doing, and I said, I do.” This week, we heard the former vice president Joe Biden say, quote and unequivocally, “I've never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.” I know you’ve talked to Hunter Biden in — you know, this week as this has all sort of evolved and bubbled up. Has he made that more clear for you? 

ENTOUS: Not really, no. We hadn't talked about that. I think when you look at Joe Biden's statement, it's rather vague. I think it also depends on the timing. So what happens is that aides to Biden really are too — either too intimidated or don't feel comfortable raising the issue of Hunter with Joe Biden. This is at a period of time where Joe Biden's other son, Beau, who is like a lifeline for Hunter, is — is kind of entering the final year of his life before he dies of a brain tumor and so the family issues were extremely sensitive. And all of Biden's aides knew that, and they were really, really reluctant to talk to him about Hunter's business activities and the potentially problems it created. That — there was a slight change that came just before Joe Biden went back to Ukraine in December 2015 — so this is a good year and a half after Hunter joins the board, one of the Biden's advisers, a guy named Amos Hochstein, he raises it with — with Joe Biden. He doesn't say, you know, you should tell your son to get off the board. He just wants him to be aware that’s probably will be raised by the media at least during the trips and then, after that, Hunter gets a phone call from his father saying I hope you know what you're doing, and he says I do. That's it. That’s the end of the conversation.

HARLOW: Okay, so Adam, let me end on this. One of the last parts of your piece — and I quote: “And yet to many voters, the controversy over Hunter Biden's dealings will appear to have been avoidable, a product of Biden’s resistance to having difficult conversations, particularly with those le involving his family.” My colleague Michael Smerconish asked you a really important question a few days ago and I think it’s worth following up on, is this just a case of bad optics and not anything more? 

ENTOUS: Well, I think there’s two separate issues here. The issue of whether it was wise of Hunter Biden to take this position at Barisma when his father was guiding policy in Ukraine and, you know, the wisdom of Biden and Biden staffers, once they knew that, not to ask Hunter to step down. I think that is a legitimate subject of scrutiny. I’m not saying it’s illegal in any way. I'm just saying that's where the optics come into it and maybe it’s even worse than bad optics. It sort of undermined American policy of promoting, you know, fighting nepotism, fighting, you know, these kinds of problems that Ukraine has on a large scale. So that's one issue. The other issue is, did Joe Biden use his office in order to fire a prosecutor to protect his son? That's the one where I found no evidence to back up and a lot of evidence to the contrary. 

HARLOW: Yeah. There's just no evidence, and you're right, a lot of evidence to the contrary on that. Adam, I encourage everyone to take the time. It's a long read, but it's worth it. Thank you for your reporting.

NB Daily Trump Impeachment Foreign Policy Ukraine Russia CNN CNN Newsroom New Yorker Poppy Harlow Adam Entous Donald Trump Joe Biden
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