Democratic presidential hopeful former US Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden addresses Ukraine scandal at Democratic debate: "My son did nothing wrong"

Biden was asked by Anderson Cooper if it was "OK" for his son to be involved in foreign businesses while he was VP

Matthew Rozsa
October 16, 2019 3:08PM (UTC)

Former Vice President Joe Biden publicly defended his son during Tuesday night's fourth Democratic presidential debate in the wake of relentless attacks from President Donald Trump, who faces an impeachment inquiry after soliciting Ukraine to dig up dirt on his family.

Biden addressed the controversy surrounding his son’s involvement with the Ukrainian gas company Burisma after moderator Anderson Cooper asked, “If it's not OK for a president's family to be involved in foreign businesses, why was it OK for your son when you were vice president?” (Cooper prefaced the question by noting that there was no factual basis behind President Donald Trump’s claim that the former Vice President had pressured a Ukrainian prosecutor to resign in order to protect his son.)


“Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden told Cooper. "I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine, and that’s what we should be focusing on."

Biden then told Cooper that Democrats’ priority should be to remove Trump from office, pointing out  that “this president on three occasions three occasions has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections.” The former vice president also denounced Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and their “thugs” as liars.

Hunter Biden told ABC News earlier Tuesday in his first televised interview in the wake of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment inquiry that he had left Burisma, because it was a “distraction” to his father’s presidential campaign. He also denied Trump’s accusation that he had engaged in illegal business with China.


“They feel like they have the license to say whatever they want,” Hunter Biden said. “It feels to me like living in some kind of 'Alice in Wonderland,' where you're up on the real world and then you fall down the rabbit hole. And, you know, the president is the Cheshire Cat asking you questions about crazy things that don't bear any resemblance to the reality of anything that has to do with me.”

On Monday, the younger Biden announced that he would step down from the board of a Chinese company and promised to not engage in any foreign business if his father was elected president. The decision comes amid the impeachment inquiry into Trump , which resulted after a national security whistleblower revealed the contents of Trump's July 25 phone call to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodomyr Zelensky. During that call, Trump solicited Zelensky to investigate the baseless Biden conspiracy theory as a “favor.” At that time, he was also withholding military aid allocated to the Ukrainian government by Congress.

During her recent testimony before Congress, Fiona Hill, Trump's former top adviser on Russia, told House investigators that the president and Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy toward Ukraine, which was met with disapproval by former National Security Adviser John Bolto, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and herself. 


“Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up," Bolton allegedly said of the former New York mayor.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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