ABC relented on Friday morning and covered the breaking news that Joe Biden’s son Hunter may be on the verge of federal criminal charges. After ignoring the latest on Thursday night, Good Morning America allowed 172 seconds. George Stephanopoulos warned at the top of the show: “Under pressure. The new report on the investigation into Hunter Biden on possible tax and other charges. It’s nearing its conclusion. Could the President's son face federal charges?”
All three morning shows covered the latest details, totaling 7 minutes and 52 seconds on Friday — growing out of a Washington Post front page story. But ABC was unique in that it was the only network to skip it on Thursday.
Stephanopoulos explained in the 7:30 hour: “Right now, a new report about the investigation into Hunter Biden. According to The Washington Post federal agents investigating the President’s son believe there is enough evidence for criminal charges involving tax violations and a false statement.”
GMA reporter Terry Moran made sure to hype the White House denial: “The scandals swirling around Hunter Biden have been a political and a personal challenge for his father, the President of the United States, and as I mentioned, the President’s staff has said that he believes, quote, 'his son did not break the law.'”
But, at least ABC finally got to the story. Over on CBS Mornings, reporter Catherine Herridge offered additional sourcing:
Multiple sources tell CBS News the FBI has believed for months there is enough evidence to prosecute the President's son with tax crimes and making false statements on a gun purchase. The sources said the FBI sent its findings this year to the U.S. Attorney in Delaware. David Weiss was appointed by President Trump and has yet to bring charges.
Co-host Tony Dokoupil concluded, “Often said, no one is above the law.”
Through Thursday morning, this was the state of Hunter Biden network coverage:
So you could be excused for thinking ABC, CBS and NBC don’t care about whether the President’s son is above the law.
Over on NBC’s Today, the morning show also offered a dire introduction. Here’s co-host Savannah Guthrie opening the program:
Closing in. Reports the long running investigation into Hunter Biden could lead to criminal charges against the President's son. This morning the evidence reportedly gathered by federal agents and the major decision now facing the Justice Department.
The Today show on Friday allowed two minutes and 23 seconds. Reporter Hallie Jackson through some cold water on the motivations of investigating Republicans:
More investigation is under way, if the GOP wins the House of Representatives about a month from now on election day. If that's the case, you see members talk about opening up some of these investigations into the President’s son. Democrats say it's intended to rile up the GOP base and rehash old talking points. Bottom line, this discussion about Hunter Biden is probably not over any time soon.
Still, the networks are covering the Hunter Biden criminal probe. That’s a nice change of pace. Let’s hope they continue to do so.
Transcripts are below. Click “expand” to read more.
Good Morning America
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Under pressure. The new report on the investigation into Hunter Biden on possible tax and other charges. It’s nearing its conclusion. Could the President's son face federal charges?
STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot more coming you charging the investigation of hunter Biden. The new report says it's nearing its conclusion. We'll tell you what we know this morning.
HOST GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Right now, a new report about the investigation into Hunter Biden. According to The Washington Post federal agents investigating the President’s son believe there is enough evidence for criminal charges involving tax violations and a false statement. Senior national correspondent Terry Moran has the story. Good morning, Terry.
TERRY MORAN: Good morning, George. This investigation has been going on for years into the tangled business dealings and messy personal life of the President’s son and now according to The Washington Post, federal agents on the case believe Hunter Biden should be prosecuted. Overnight The Washington Post reported that federal agents believe they have enough evidence to charge Hunter Biden with tax crimes and lying on a federal form when he purchased a gun. The Post citing anonymous sources said the President’s son’s case has moved one step closer to a potential conclusion with a U.S. Attorney in Delaware who was appointed by President Trump set to decide whether to proceed. The agents – The Post reported – determined months ago they had assembled a viable criminal case against Hunter Biden him. ABC news has not independently confirmed this report. The Justice Department, White House, FBI and IRS all declined to comment or did not respond. The federal investigation of Hunter Biden began in 2018 and centered around his taxes and his business dealings overseas going all the way back to the time when his father served as Vice President under President Obama including Hunter Biden’s work with the Ukrainian natural gas company called Burisma. In a 2019 interview with Amy Robach, Hunter Biden admitted that his work with the Ukrainian company was a mistake.
AMY ROBACH: At the time you never thought, this might not look right.
HUNTER BIDEN: You know what, I’m a human. And you know what, did I make a mistake? Well maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah, but did I make a mistake based upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not.
Investigators have since looked into whether Biden properly reported all of his income to the IRS. According to The Post, investigators have also examined a firearms purchase Biden made in 2018 when he allegedly answered “no” on a federal form that asks if a gun purchaser is using or is addicted to drugs. But in a memoir published last year Hunter Biden said he had been smoking crack cocaine around that time. Former President Donald Trump made his business dealings a centerpiece of his failed re-election bid.
DONALD TRUMP: Where’s Hunter? Where’s Hunter?
MORAN: Hunter Biden’s lawyer fiercely criticized the leak in a statement to The Washington Post and he tells ABC News that “we believe the prosecutors in this case are diligently and thoroughly weighing not just evidence provided by agents but also all the other witnesses in this case.” It’s unclear when the U.S. Attorney in Delaware might make a decision whether to move forward but Republicans have pledged to go after the President's son if they retake control of congress in November.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: If there’s a place for us to investigate we’ll investigate.
MORAN: In April, the White House said the President was confident that his son didn’t break the law. Attorney general Merrick Garland was asked at a Senate hearing about how the Justice Department is handling the case.
MERRICK GARLAND: There will not be interference of any political or improper kind.
MORAN: The scandals swirling around Hunter Biden have been a political and a personal challenge for his father, the President of the United States, and as I mentioned, the President’s staff has said that he believes, quote, his son did not break the law. George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: So Terry, walk everyone through the possess. The prosecutorial decision is not up to the investigators.
MORAN: That’s right. These leaks according to The Washington Post come from investigators on the case, but charging decisions, whether or not to charge someone, prosecutors make that decision and they need to be persuaded they’ve got evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that could win a conviction. And in this case, that prosecutor was appointed by Donald Trump. George?
MORAN: Terry Moran, thanks. T.J.
7:07 AM ET
NATE BURLESON: Here in this country, we're learning more about the federal investigation of the President's son, Hunter Biden. Sources tell CBS News the FBI and IRS believe there’s enough evidence to charge the younger Biden with crimes, although not in connection with his business dealings overseas. Senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge is in Washington. Good morning.
CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Good morning, Nate. A lawyer for the President's son slammed the allegations as inaccurate and claimed Hunter Biden is a target simply because of his family name. Hunter Biden's lawyer also called on the Justice Department to investigate how information apparently leaked from within the FBI. Multiple sources tell CBS News the FBI has believed for months there is enough evidence to prosecute the President's son with tax crimes and making false statements on a gun purchase. The sources said the FBI sent its findings this year to the U.S. Attorney in Delaware. David Weiss was appointed by President Trump and has yet to bring charges.
HARRY LITMAN (Former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General): He’s got to make that final call under the principles of federal prosecution, not the initial call that the FBI has made in gathering evidence.
HERRIDGE: A lawyer for Hunter Biden called the apparent leak inherently biased, one sided, and inaccurate, adding their team believes prosecutors should not be pressured, rushed, or criticized for doing their job. The year's long federal investigation into Hunter Biden's business practices began before Joe Biden was President. Mr. Biden has consistently denied knowledge of his son's work, as he did here on the presidential campaign trail.
JOE BIDEN: I have never spoken to my son about business dealings.
HERRIDGE: The federal criminal probe explored whether the younger Biden, his uncle James, and other business associates violated tax, money laundering, and foreign lobbying laws. Earlier this year the probe narrowed, focusing on delinquent tax payments including income Hunter Biden earned as a board member for a Ukrainian energy company. A source close to the president’s son said he repaid more than $1 million in past due taxes. In an interview last year with CBS News' Anthony Mason Hunter Biden downplayed potential charges.
ANTHONY MASON: There's a federal tax investigation into you. Where does that stand now?
HUNTER BIDEN: They’re investigating. I can’t really talk about it other than to say is that I’m fully cooperative, and I’m fully confident that at the end of the day it’s all going to be fine.
HERRIDGE: The timing coming four weeks before the midterm elections seems to raise the political stakes even though President Biden is not on the ballot. Senior Republicans say they will investigate the Biden family businesses if they take control of key committees in January. Tony?
TONY DOKOUPIL: Often said no one is above the law. Catherine, thank you very much.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Closing in. Reports the long running investigation into Hunter Biden could lead to criminal charges against the President's son. This morning the evidence reportedly gathered by federal agents and the major decision now facing the Justice Department.
7:08 AM ET
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: New developments in the investigation of Hunter Biden. The Washington Post reporting federal investigators now believe they have sufficient evidence to charge the president’s son with tax crimes and a false statement relating to a gun purchase. NBC senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson on the story for us. Good morning.
HALLIE JACKSON: Hey, Savannah, good morning to you. Let’s just start off with a key point here. Just because those agents think they have the goods does not mean that Hunter Biden will be charged. That decision lies with Justice Department prosecutors instead. But this new report does give us a window into the state of the long-running investigation into the President’s son. The long-running investigation into Hunter Biden's finances this morning may be reaching a critical point with The Washington Post reporting federal agents now think they've gathered enough evidence tore the President’s son to be charged with tax crimes and with lying on a gun application when he said he was not using illegal drugs, citing people familiar with the case.
NBC News has not independently confirmed the report and the Justice Department is declining comment. Officials familiar with the matter tell NBC News the case is still ongoing. Ultimately, though, it's not up to agents whether to file charges. Instead, prosecutors at the DOJ will make that call and there’s no indication what they'll do or when. In a case filled with political land mines, Merrick Garland has made clear the decision won’t rest with him but the U.S. attorney in Delaware, a trump appointee.
PERRY STEIN (Washington Post reporter): Garland has vowed, he will not be interfering. There will be no political interference in this investigation and he's going to leave it up to David Weiss, who is the U.S. Attorney in Delaware.
JACKSON: In a statement Hunter Biden's attorney suggesting agents illegally leaked to The Washington Post, calling that a felony. Adding, “prosecutors in this case are diligently and thoroughly weighing not just evidence provided by agents but also all the other witnesses.” Prosecutors have been scrutinizing Hunter Biden's business dealings for four years, including his decision to take a lucrative position on a Ukrainian's company’s boards while his father was vice president. Former President Trump making it a campaign promise in 2021.
DONALD TRUMP: He made a fortune in Ukraine, China, Moscow.
JOE BIDEN: That is simply not true.
JACKSON: Hunter Biden has denied any illegal business dealings.
HUNTER BIDEN: I’m absolutely certain, 100% certain that at the end of the investigation, that I will be cleared any wrongdoing.
JACKSON: And the president on 60 Minutes last month defending his son.
JOE BIDEN: I love my son, number one. He fought an addiction problem. He overcame it. He wrote about it. No, there’s not a single thing I've observed at all from — that would affect me or the United States relative to my son Hunter.
GUTHRIE: So, Hallie, we've been talking about a potential criminal charge for Hunter Biden. Politically there's also an issue if Republicans win in the midterm, there's talk of investigating and looking into Hunter Biden.
JACKSON: More investigation is under way, if the GOP wins the House of Representatives about a month from now on election day. If that's the case, you see members talk about opening up some of these investigations into the President’s son. Democrats say it's intended to rile up the GOP base and rehash old talking points. Bottom line, this discussion about Hunter Biden is probably not over any time soon. Savannah?