OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The White House has made a subtle yet noticeable change in its narrative regarding prior statements from President Joe Biden regarding his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
On the campaign trail in 2019 and 2020, whenever he was asked about his son’s shady business deals, Joe Biden would respond forcefully: “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses. Period.”
But on Friday, following the release of a bombshell email directly implicating the president in a deal with his son, the White House changed its tune, claiming now that Joe Biden was “not in business” with Hunter.
“As we have said many times before, the President was not in business with his son. As we have also said many times before, the Justice Department makes decisions in its criminal investigations independently, & in this case, the White House has not been involved,” said a White House spokesperson, as quoted by NBC News’ Monica Alba.
WH spokesman: “As we have said many times before, the President was not in business with his son. As we have also said many times before, the Justice Department makes decisions in its criminal investigations independently, & in this case, the White House has not been involved.”
— Monica Alba (@albamonica) June 23, 2023
The subtle yet noticeable difference was picked up by Washington Examiner columnist Byron York, who described the turn of phrase as being “very lawyerly.”
“Joe Biden was ‘not in business’ with Hunter? That’s a new formulation from the White House. Very lawyerly,” he tweeted.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 23, 2023
At the White House press briefing on Friday, Newsmax correspondent James Rosen asked White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre if she was continuing to stand by her own previous “reaffirmations” that the president had never discussed business interests with family members. She did not answer the question directly, but said instead: “Nothing has changed.”
During a press conference addressing the allegations of the Biden administration interfering with U.S. Attorney David Weiss’s investigation into the president’s son on Thursday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) made the revelation about the IRS whistleblowers.
One of the IRS agents told Smith’s committee that in August 2020, agency investigators found messages from an iCloud search warrant, but prosecutors “denied investigators’ requests to develop a strategy to look into the messages and denied investigators’ suggestion to obtain location information to see where the texts were sent from.”
One message investigators managed to obtain was sent via the WhatsApp platform from Hunter Biden to Henry Zhao on July 30, 2017.
Smith’s committee provided a transcript of the exchange where it appears Hunter Biden name-dropped his father, Joe Biden:
I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight. And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.
Noted author Peter Schweizer, Henry Zhao is a Chinese Communist Party official and previously was a business partner with the daughter of China’s former state security minister.
After Smith’s committee published the message and Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty earlier this week to misdemeanor tax charges and a gun-related charge, he was seen hobnobbing with elites at a White House state dinner on behalf of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.