WASHINGTON — Roughly three-fifths of Americans believe President Joe Biden was involved in his son Hunter’s foreign business deals, according to a CNN/SSRS poll released Thursday.
The survey result is a public relations coup for Republicans, who have made the alleged corruption of the Biden family the centerpiece of their congressional investigations and public messaging.
The only problem is that after delving through hundreds of bank records obtained by subpoena, and hours of witness testimony, Republicans have not actually produced evidence that Biden was involved with his son’s deals in Ukraine or China.
As Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) put it on Wednesday, in response to a question about whether his colleagues’ investigations had implicated the president: “I don’t think that evidence has been presented.”
Still, just 38% of voters said they thought Joe Biden had no involvement in his son’s business deals, and only 1% had no opinion on the matter.
Starting in 2014, when his father was the face of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine, Hunter Biden, an attorney and former lobbyist, received millions for serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company called Burisma. The job created an instant controversy and State Department officials complained to the vice president’s office that the job looked like a conflict of interest. They were told Joe Biden couldn’t deal with Hunter Biden’s drama while his other son, Beau Biden, was dying of brain cancer.
Former President Donald Trump tried to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens in 2019, and even withheld military aid in order to pressure the country to do so. Democrats that year impeached Trump for abuse of power, and during the proceedings State Department officials testified that Biden had not done anything improper.
House Republicans have proposed expunging Trump’s two impeachments, and their investigation into Hunter Biden’s business, which has ignored the 2019 testimony, is essentially an effort to rewrite the congressional record.
The majority belief that Joe Biden participated in his son’s business is driven by Republican voters, 90% of whom told CNN/SSRS that the president was involved, but 28% of Democratic voters also agreed with the poll question that Joe Biden had “some involvement.”
“When Hill Republicans, Donald Trump, Fox, and the entire right-wing media ecosystem every day feed their audiences a steady diet of lies claiming Biden was involved, you see stuff like this — and we can push back til we’re blue in the face, and we do, but it really should jolt the mainstream media to wake up and realize this is part of a widespread information war where the liars are sort of winning,” said a senior White House aide who requested anonymity to candidly discuss the poll.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have produced a steady drip of new details about Hunter Biden’s work, such as emails showing coordination between the vice president’s office and his law firm in response to media queries about his questionable position on Burisma’s board in 2015. And Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Devon Archer, testified that Hunter Biden would occasionally put his dad on speakerphone in the presence of their clients, prompting Republicans to claim Joe Biden lied about not talking business with his son, even though Archer said repeatedly the elder Biden would only exchange pleasantries and never talked business.
The younger Biden faces federal criminal charges for illegally owning a gun and failing to pay taxes, with a grand jury indictment expected this month. Joe Biden left a Trump-appointed prosecutor in place in order to finish the case, and the Justice Department elevated him to special counsel status so that he could bring charges in any state.
Nevertheless, 55% of Americans think Joe Biden has acted “inappropriately” regarding the investigation of his son, who faces a public trial and imprisonment.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), whose own investigation laid the groundwork for the House probe now underway, suggested that the simple fact that Hunter Biden received hefty fees from foreign clients strikes people as corrupt.
“The bottom line is: What did any of the Bidens do to earn millions of dollars?” Johnson asked.
The CNN/SSRS poll was filled with bad news for the president, and put his approval rating at just 35%, well below the average of recent polling. The poll of more than 1,500 adults, conducted Aug. 25 to 31, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.