A former business partner of Hunter Biden has accused Joe Biden of being involved in discussions over his son’s business deals with China, lending his support to unsubstantiated allegations sparked by leaked emails and text messages from the younger Biden’s laptop.
Anthony Bobulinski, who worked with Hunter on a venture with Chinese oil company CEFC China Energy in 2017, was invited by Donald Trump to the final presidential debate on Thursday. In a staged event, he claimed the former vice president had been consulted on the deal and said that he had shared documents to support that claim with law enforcement.
But documents provided to the Wall Street Journal by Mr Bobulinski showed “no role” for the former vice president, the newspaper reported.
The venture “never received proposed funds from the Chinese company or completed any deals, according to people familiar with the matter. Corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden,” the report said.
It went on: “Text messages and emails related to the venture that were provided to the Journal by Mr Bobulinski, mainly the spring and summer of 2017, don’t show either Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.”
Surrogates of Donald Trump have pushed unfounded allegations of corruption about Hunter Biden, and some have gone so far as to link the former vice president to those claims.
The rumours began when the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, provided a hard drive purportedly from Hunter Biden’s laptop to the New York Post.
Mr Biden directly addressed the allegations at the final presidential debate on Thursday, linking the controversy to an attempt by Russia to interfere in the election.
“We are in a situation where we have foreign countries trying to interfere in our elections. His own national security adviser told him what is happening with his buddy … Rudy Giuliani. He’s being used as a Russian pawn, he’s being fed information that is not true,” Mr Biden said.
Mr Trump returned to the issue shortly after: "He’s the vice president of the United States and his son, his brother and his other brother are getting rich. They’re like a vacuum cleaner.”
He added: “If this is true, then he's a corrupt politician. So don't give me the stuff about how you're this innocent baby. Joe, they're calling you a corrupt politician. It's the laptop from hell.”
In a statement, a Biden campaign spokesman, Andrew Bates, called Mr Bobulinski's presence a "desperate, pathetic farce."
"Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever. He has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him," Mr Bates said.