The Biden administration has shifted its language on the extent to which President Joe Biden was involved in his son Hunter’s business dealings, changing the line from never “discuss[ing] overseas business” to saying the two have “never been in business.”
Amid the apparent rhetorical change, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted Wednesday that “nothing has changed.”
“The president has previously said that he has never discussed overseas business dealings with his son. But the White House now says that the president has never been in business with his son. So, why the updated language? Which statement is true, or is this semantics and they’re both true?” RealClearPolitics’ Philip Wegmann asked Jean-Pierre.
“Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed on this. Nothing has changed on this. You could ask me a million different ways on this question, nothing has changed,” the press secretary responded.
Another reporter asked Jean-Pierre a similar question about a change in rhetoric.
“Earlier this week, you said the president was never in business with his son, but can you say specifically that the president did not have discussions of any kind with Hunter about his business dealings?” the reporter pressed.
“Nothing has changed. I don’t have anything to add to what I stated on Monday,” Jean-Pierre responded, noting that she’s been asked the question repeatedly.
Biden has insisted he has never “spoken” with his son about his foreign business dealings. He said so in 2019 in response to a question about Hunter’s abandoned laptop, and then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki reaffirmed the president’s claim in 2022.
Joe Biden: “I’ve never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings. Here’s what I know — I know Trump deserves to be investigated… You should be looking at Trump. Trump’s doing this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum.” https://t.co/yrMdiaBli8 pic.twitter.com/yGhipRo1ew
— The Hill (@thehill) September 21, 2019
The White House Counsel first changed its rhetoric in June in response to IRS whistleblower allegations against the first son. Hunter Biden allegedly sent a text message threatening a Chinese business associate by claiming Joe Biden was sitting next to him, according to whistleblower Gary Shapley’s testimony.
“As we have said many times before, the President was not in business with his son,” White House Counsel spokesperson Ian Sams said at the time. “As we have also said many times before, the Justice Department makes decisions in its criminal investigations independently, and in this case, the White House has not been involved. As the President has said, he loves his son and is proud of him accepting responsibility for his actions and is proud of what he is doing to rebuild his life.” (RELATED: White House Says Joe Biden Was ‘Not In Business‘ With Hunter After Explosive Text Message Testimony)
The White House then adopted this line, with Jean-Pierre later using the line “not in business,” instead of “spoken” about business.
“The answer is not going to change. The answer remains the same: The President ha- — was never in business with his son. I just don’t have anything else to add,” Jean-Pierre said Monday.