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Son of President-elect under investigation for tax affairs

WILMINGTON: In this file photo, US President-elect Joe Biden (right) embraces his son Hunter Biden on the stage after delivering remarks in Wilmington, Delaware. – AFP

WILMINGTON: Hunter Biden, the son of US President-elect Joe Biden and a frequent target of Republican attacks, said Wednesday he was under federal investigation about his taxes. The revelation about the probe included no details, but it promises to rekindle Republican rage about the Biden family, including Hunter Biden’s business dealings and the elder Biden’s anti-corruption push in Ukraine when he was US vice president. It also presents a series of thorny issues during the president-elect’s transition into the White House in just over one month’s time, including the possibility his son will still be under investigation by the US Department of Justice.

“I learned yesterday for the first time that the US Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs,” Hunter Biden said in a statement released by his father’s presidential transition team. “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”

Hunter Biden, 50, is a lawyer who has founded consulting and investment firms, worked in private equity, and served on the board of various organizations including national railroad corporation Amtrak. Biden’s second son Hunter was born in Wilmington, Delaware, where his father lives and the presidential transition operation is based. His brother Beau Biden, the former Delaware attorney general, died of cancer in 2015.

Trump attacks on Biden
The transition team said in the statement that included Hunter’s remarks that “President-elect Biden is deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”

The investigation was disclosed just five days before the Electoral College is expected to formally select Joe Biden as the next president, following the November 3 election in which he defeated President Donald Trump. The New York Times, citing unnamed sources familiar with the inquiry, said the probe was opened in late 2018 and has included inquiries into “potential criminal violations” of tax laws.

During his reelection campaign Trump launched repeated accusations that the Bidens were a “corrupt” family and a “criminal enterprise.” From 2014 to 2019, while his father was vice president, Hunter Biden, a lawyer and lobbyist, served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company. Trump has accused Joe Biden, when he was president Barack Obama’s deputy, of seeking the removal of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to protect Burisma-and his son-from a corruption investigation.

Joe Biden has acknowledged publicly that he did indeed push for the dismissal of the prosecutor but the European Union and IMF had also sought his removal-not because of a Burisma probe but because he was seen as not being aggressive enough in pursuing corruption. Since 2019 Trump and his Republican allies have assailed Hunter for his dealings with Ukraine and China, and there were unconfirmed reports that a Hunter Biden laptop was dropped off at a Delaware repair shop and contained incriminating data. No evidence of wrongdoing emerged.

The New York Post reported in October that the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the laptop in December 2019. Some Republican lawmakers this week have called for current Attorney General Bill Barr to launch an independent investigation of Hunter Biden-who has acknowledged struggling with addiction-before Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

Trump keeps hopes alive
In another development, a longshot Supreme Court lawsuit from Texas against four states key in the November 3 election gave President Donald Trump fresh hope of stalling if not overturning Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. Texas-a state Trump won-lodged the suit late Tuesday against Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, challenging Biden’s victory in each of the four.

The suit was seen as audacious and barely legally sound, given that no one state has any legal right to interfere in another’s election processes. Texas alleged that the results in the other four states were “unconstitutional” because of their heavy use of “fraud-prone” mail-in votes during the coronavirus pandemic. It offered no proof of significant fraud, and it didn’t challenge the use of mailed ballots in states Trump won. The suit cited numerous alleged examples of potential fraud already repeatedly rejected by courts in dozens of Trump campaign cases.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the Supreme Court to quickly freeze the process by which state vote counts are translated into electors at the Electoral College, the members of which will affirm the presidential winner on December 14. Absent the court’s intervention, Paxton’s complaint said, confirming Biden’s victory will have the result of “tainting the election and the future of free elections.” The move was endorsed by 17 other states won by Trump, and by Trump himself, who submitted his own request to the court to take part.

“There is massive evidence of widespread fraud in the four states (plus) mentioned in the Texas suit. Just look at all of the tapes and affidavits!” the president tweeted. “This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!” he wrote. The lawsuit came as all 50 states plus Washington, DC have formally certified their vote tallies, opening the way to convene the Electoral College in five days. There is no doubt that Biden won the presidency, having snagged 51.3 percent of the ballots compared to Trump’s 46.9 percent, a seven-million-vote margin. – Agencies

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