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Hunter Biden's Emails Show He Was Deeply In Debt Despite High Income; Former Republican And Democratic Officials Form New Political Party; Soon: Key Measure Of U.S. Economic Growth To Be Released. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 28, 2022 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Drew Griffin has more.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The emails posted by a right-wing operative on the internet have long been used as a political weapon against President Joe Biden, but it's his son Hunter who is facing potential federal charges.

As CNN first reported, prosecutors in Delaware are narrowing in on potential tax violations in their investigation of Hunter Biden. These emails, forensically authenticated for CNN, reveal Hunter Biden was repeatedly warned about deep debts and years of back taxes. This, despite having a lavish income that included as much as $50,000 a month for sitting on the board of Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company.

A 2019 spreadsheet sent to Biden from his assistant, details more than half a million dollars in bills due or past due, including hundreds of thousands in taxes over several years. The emails show he knew he was delinquent.

October 2018, his accountant wrote, "They are late," noting that Biden had missed an already extended tax filing deadline of October 15. Two weeks later, "Your 2017 tax returns are still unfiled," the accountant reminded Biden. The next day, "You need to get 2017 filed so we can try to work out a payment schedule."

The accountant told Biden the IRS was also demanding a payment from 2015. "They want $158,000," the accountant wrote. "The 2018 federal taxes of $471,000 will be in addition. IRS has notified the State Department and they will not renew your passport until this is resolved."

KATHLEEN BUHLE, HUNTER BIDEN'S EX-WIFE: He was struggling under a massive drug addiction, and that's heartbreaking and painful.

GRIFFIN (voiceover): In past interviews, both Biden and his ex-wife say Biden's financial issues became worse with the death of his brother and his drug use. HUNTER BIDEN, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S SON: I went one time for 13 days

without sleeping and smoking crack and drinking vodka exclusively throughout that entire time.

GRIFFIN (voiceover): The couple divorced, and Hunter would owe $37,000 a month in spousal support. The spreadsheet shows he fell behind -- just part of a lifestyle that was financially out of control. More than $65,000 owed on one credit card. He owed a $1,700 payment on a Porsche. His healthcare bill was back due.

And the assistant who was trying to keep track of it all said she, too, wasn't being paid. "I'm trying to figure out what to do about bills," Biden's then-assistant asked. "Pay the healthcare. Pay the Porsche," Biden responded, and told the assistant she should only pay herself half what she was owed.

The emails reveal multiple warnings from banks concerning insufficient funds -- deep debt. His credit card repeatedly declined.

In a statement to CNN, Biden's attorney acknowledged the tax issue, saying "He is current on his tax obligations and is committed to remaining so as he continues his recovery from addiction."

BIDEN: I'm cooperating completely, and I am absolutely certain -- 100% certain that at the end of the investigation that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

GRIFFIN (voiceover): Even if Hunter Biden is never charged with a crime that won't matter to Republicans, especially those who chair powerful committees if the Republican Party wins the majority in Congress. Like Kentucky Congressman James Comer, who promises a Hunter Biden investigation if he heads the House oversight committee.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Hunter Biden is a shady business character. We fear that he has compromised this White House. That's why we're not going to continue to let up on these investigations, and we're going to hold somebody accountable for this.

GRIFFIN (voiceover): Joe Biden is not being investigated as part of the federal probe into Hunter Biden, according to sources.

GRIFFIN (on camera): It's not only a question of if charges will be filed against the president's son, but also when. Sources telling CNN Justice Department guidelines generally avoid bringing politically sensitive cases close to an election. Those guidelines, we're told, are now being weighed as this case has reached a critical juncture.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


ROMANS: All right, Drew. Thank you so much for that important reporting.

Still to come, the Republicans and Democrats who say they're forming a third major political party in America. And the new music that a lot of Beyonce fans don't want to listen to, at least not yet.



ROMANS: Dozens of former Democratic and Republican officials launching a new third political party called Forward to appeal to voters unhappy with what they call America's dysfunctional two-party system.

Helmed by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, they write, "To succeed, a new party must break down the barriers that stand between voters and more political choices."

In particular, they advocate ranked-choice voting, open primaries. They want to end gerrymandering. And they want voting rights protections, and they want to make it easier and safer for anyone to vote in this country.

Let's bring in Julian Zelizer, CNN political analyst. Julian, so nice to see you.

You know, some see third party -- third political parties as just spoilers, right? But they don't really ever disrupt the vice grip the two major parties have on politics, do they?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "FAULT LINES: A HISTORY OF THE U.S. SINCE 1974" (via Webex by Cisco): They don't. The Electoral College makes it very hard for third parties to compete. The existing parties are very strong organizations. And most voters, even when they say they're Independent, will still vote for one of the two parties. So, it's very hard to break through and no one wants to be the spoiler, like in 2000 with Ralph Nader again.


ROMANS: You know, recent CNN polling shows that 75% of Democrats want a candidate other than Biden to run in 2024, and 55% of Republicans want someone other than Trump to run.

I wonder, do you think that signals that the timing here -- a third party might have a better chance at making some noise?

ZELIZER: I'm dubious. I mean, it could make some noise. That's different than gaining Electoral College votes.

What it does signal is there might be room in both parties for a different kind of candidate for some kind of primary challenge among Democrats or a challenge to the former president if he runs again in the Republican Party.

ROMANS: What do you think it says about where we are at the moment here when you have such -- I mean, so many people in both parties who don't want -- you know, the person essentially helming their party to be the candidate? What does that say about the mood here today? ZELIZER: Well, I think even if people are partisan, they could be frustrated both with Washington and the inability to deal with big problems that the nation faces. Although there was a breakthrough, possibly, last night on climate change. And it's a frustration with partisanship even while people are partisan. But again, that doesn't mean that lock of the parties will disappear.

ROMANS: Talk to me a little bit about the specific -- the specific things this new party Forward wants to do in terms of changing some of these rules -- ranked-choice primaries, open primaries, ending gerrymandering, and making it safer, more secure, and easier for everybody to vote. These are things that need to happen?

ZELIZER: Yes, I think a lot of those are very good ideas. Certainly, making the vote safe is something many Americans have been demanding. Unfortunately, Democrats weren't able to get legislation through in the past couple of years. But certainly, reforming our political system is a good thing and it would be good for the existing parties as well.

ROMANS: All right, Julian Zelizer, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

And just so everybody knows, later this morning, Andrew Yang and Christine Whitman will talk about their newly formed party on "NEW DAY."

And next, what we could learn about a key measure of the U.S. economy when it's released less than three hours from now.



ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this Thursday morning.

Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares have closed narrowly mixed. Europe has opened barely moving here. And on Wall Street, stock index futures at this hour are leaning slightly lower.

Stocks surged Wednesday after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point. The Dow up almost 1.4%, a big move for the S&P. And the Nasdaq -- that's one of the best days we've seen for the Nasdaq in a couple of years, gaining 4.1% -- a huge gain for those interest rate-sensitive big tech stocks.

The rally coming after the Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell suggested that the central bank could slow the pace and size of future rate increases if the economy cools. At least that's what investors heard on Wall Street from all of that talking yesterday.

A key measure of America's economic growth (GDP) is due out in less than three hours. A second-straight quarter of declining GDP could rev up those worries about a looming recession. The consensus forecast is for slight growth in the second quarter after that worrisome contraction there you see in quarter one.

Let's bring in John Leer, chief economist at Morning Consult. Welcome to the program. So nice to see you, John.

You know, these numbers will almost certainly be revised -- let's get that straight here. But I think it's telling there's so much scrutiny here. Remind our viewers that whatever we see today in GDP, a recession is about more than just that GDP number.

JOHN LEER, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MORNING CONSULT (via Webex by Cisco): That's exactly right. Recession takes into account a wide range of factors -- most notably, I think, jobs, payroll growth, and consumer spending. And both of those have held up relatively well thus far.

And so, I do think it's a little premature right now to say that we are in a recession, although it certainly is the case that certain pockets of Americans out there are likely feeling as if we were in a recession just because of how elevated inflation and how their purchasing power has been eroded over these past few months.

ROMANS: Yes, confidence really battered by more than two years now of a health crisis in this country that's changed the way we live. You just can't overstate how all of these things are wrapped up together and how people feel.

Key here is a very strong jobs number. We're getting new jobless claims later today. That measures how many people have, for the very first time, filed for unemployment benefits. Any worry from you there that the Fed's mission to fight inflation might be hurting jobs? Will we see any signs of that do you think?

LEER: My sense is that what the Fed has done thus far has yet to be fully reflected in the jobs market, in large part just because there is that lag. It takes about four to six months for increases in interest rates to show up on the jobs front.

I think what we're seeing right now -- and we are, I should say, seeing some early signs of weaknesses in the jobs front -- but I think what we're essentially seeing is just a slowing of momentum. You know, that makes sense given where we are in the -- in the recovery. We're at this stage and a fairly late stage of jobs recovery considering where -- you know, we're 24 or 28 months from the initial shock of the pandemic.

ROMANS: Yes. I think we've had 2.7 million jobs created in the first half of this year. As Jerome Powell, yesterday -- the Fed chief -- saying you can't have a recession when you're having that many jobs being created.

But the recession obsession in this country is really -- it's real. I mean, 64% of Americans believe we're already in a recession regardless of what the numbers say.

What does that tell you about the state of our economy? You mentioned that in some pockets, people are feeling pretty rotten about things. They might already feel like they're in a recession. [05:50:05]

LEER: Yes, I think there are two things to note here.

So, first, is that, as I just mentioned, I do think that there are certain pockets of the population that essentially are experiencing a recession because elevated gas prices have eroded their purchasing power to such an extent. And on top of that, they're experiencing pay losses already. They're experiencing job losses.

It's important to note, of course, that for most Americans, they're not made whole by inflation. That inflation ultimately erodes their wages -- or their real wages, I should say.

And I think the second point, which is also maybe more interesting or more concerning, is that to some extent, as Americans feel like we're in a recession, there is a growing concern that might be a self- fulfilling prophecy. You can see that show up I think in things like falling consumer confidence, rising inflation expectations. Those are all sentiment indicators that essentially can produce observed economic outcomes. And I think that's the concern that policymakers have is that some of these views might become entrenched and, in fact, self-fulfilling.

ROMANS: Yes, essentially talking ourself into a recession because of the way people feel.

John Leer, nice to meet you. Do you think the GDP number could be slightly positive? Is that your call?

LEER: I think it will be positive and the surprise will be to the upside.

ROMANS: All right. John Leer, nice to meet you -- Morning Consult. Nice to see you. Thank you.

All right, coming up on "NEW DAY," the surprise deal that caught almost everybody on Capitol Hill by surprise.



ROMANS: All right. Beyonce's new music causing a buzz. Her fans, the Beyhive, of course, actually begging people not to listen to it.




ROMANS: So, that's "Break My Soul." That's the only official release so far from Beyonce's new album "Renaissance," set to drop Friday.

Variety says some of the other songs, though -- they're leaking online. The Beyhive is telling people do not listen to them, don't share these songs -- afraid of taking away from Friday's official release.

Brittney Griner's teammates show their support for the jailed star as news of a potential prisoner deal is released.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy.


Eight-time All-Star Brittney Griner has been detained for 161 days in Russia and her absence has been felt throughout the WNBA, especially by her Phoenix Mercury. The team posting yesterday this is the only message that matters. And it's a photo of players and coaches holding signs reading "Bring Brittney Home."

The WNBA Players Association tweeting on behalf of all 144 players last night. "Dear BG, It's early in Moscow. Our day is ending and yours is just beginning. Not a day, not an hour goes by that you're not on our minds and in our hearts."

Now, the Biden administration has offered to exchange a convicted arms trafficker as part of a potential deal to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, including Griner.

LIV Golf set to host its third tournament tomorrow -- this one at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. The former president will play a Pro-Am event there today with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, among others.

The Saudi-backed LIV tour announcing yesterday that they will increase the number of events from eight to 14 next season with a total purse of $405 million.

The controversial tour has 11 former Major winners in the field this week and another could be on the way. The Telegraph Report and Sports Illustrated reporting that 2-time Masters champ Bubba Watson will leave the PGA Tour for LIV in time for their next event in Boston on Labor Day weekend.

Mets going for the 2-game sweep with the Yankees and birthday boy Max Scherzer brought the party favors. Six strikeouts in seven shutout innings. He got Aaron Judge swinging three times.

He leaves the game and guess what happens? Two batters later, bam -- see you later Gleyber Torres. Yankees tied at 2 in the eighth.

(INAUDIBLE) over, Starling Marte said. Don't stop, get it, get it. But hold on now. Ninth inning, Marte came to party -- a walk-off hit to left.

Mets celebrating their first home series sweep over the Yankees since 2014.

Finally, Christine, Aaron Rodgers created a lot of buzz online when he walked into the first day at Packers training camp looking like Nicholas Cage's character in "Con Air." Rogers explained yesterday.


AARON RODGERS, GREEN BACK PACKERS QUARTERBACK: Life is not that serious. I think -- I think it's easy to take things a little too seriously. There's a time and a place for everything.

But I felt like I gave an ode to one of my all-time favorite actors last year for Halloween, and an ode to my -- possibly my all-time favorite actor day one of training camp. So, I feel like I checked all the boxes.


WIRE: He just happens to look so much like him, Christine. Who are you going with if you had come dressed as your favorite actor to work?

ROMANS: Oh, gosh, I don't -- I don't even -- I can't -- I don't even know. I just can't get the image of him looking --

WIRE: It's so much like him.

ROMANS: I know -- all right.

What about you? Who would you dress up as?

WIRE: I love Anthony Hopkins. I feel like I could pull it off somehow, some way. We'll see.

ROMANS: All right, I think you could.

All right, Coy. Nice to see you.

WIRE: All right.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.