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Hunter Biden In New Interview: "They're Trying To Destroy A Presidency"; President's Son Faces 9 Criminal Charges In Federal Tax Case; Special Counsel: Hunter Spent Money On "Everything But His Taxes"; Hunter Biden Reflects On GOP Attacks In New Podcast; Political Fallout From New Hunter Biden Indictment; Hunter Biden Accused Of 4+Year Scheme To Evade $1.4M In Taxes. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 08, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics, Hunter Biden indicted again, sex clubs, escorts, a rented Lamborghini. That's what prosecutors say the president son spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on instead of paying his taxes. His lawyers and his father's campaign say this is all about politics.

Plus taking the stance. Donald Trump is preparing to testify in his civil fraud trial. Why does he keep choosing the courthouse over the campaign trail? And I'm sorry. The president of Harvard is apologizing for failing to say calls for the genocide of Jews is harassment. She's one of multiple university presidents under pressure to resign after disastrous testimony on antisemitism. Why is it so hard for so many to call out Jew hate?

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

We start today with Hunter Biden, now facing nine new charges in a federal tax case that, if convicted could put the first son in prison. The 56-page indictment filed in California alleges that he schemed to evade at least $1.4 million in federal taxes. He's already facing federal gun charges and is at the heart of a Republican led impeachment inquiry into his father, the president.

This morning we heard from Hunter Biden himself in a pre-recorded podcast interview with the singer Moby. Hunter Biden rarely speaks publicly. And here he is talking about the attacks on him and his family.


HUNTER BIDEN, PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN SON (voiceover): They are trying to, in their most illegitimate way, but rational way, they're trying to destroy a presidency. And so, it's not about me, and their most base way, what they're trying to do is they're trying to kill me, knowing that it will be a pain greater than my father could be able to handle.


BASH: CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins (Audio Gap) is a very delicate issue for the president, which means it's a very delicate issue for the White House and for his reelection campaign.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Dana. And when they're asked about this, they largely declined to comment which has been their approach over the last few months as these cases unfold. Instead, the White House in the campaign have pointed to Hunter Biden's attorney's statement.

And in that statement, yesterday, the attorney who said, if Hunter's last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware and now California would not have been brought. Now these charges, these counts include, for example, failure to file and pay taxes, evasion of assessment and filing a false fraudulent tax return.

Now, President Biden when he's approached, the issue of Hunter Biden has been quite personal in saying that his son has his love and support. He's also kept in close. We have seen Hunter at events at the White House as well as in family events.

But the thinking inside of the campaign is really that this issue -- this of Hunter Biden and these ongoing cases doesn't resonate with voters that they see it for the politics that it is, that's the campaign's thinking on this. And then instead voters are focused on issues like the economy. And so that is what they continue to speak to as we continue to see these cases unfold.

But there is no doubt here, Dana, that the president here is campaigning and in going into this presidential election and facing not only these charges against his son, but also the impeachment inquiry by Republicans. All of this as his son tries to fight to avoid prison time for these criminal cases.

, it is complicated. It is delicate here within the White House in the campaign. But where they want to keep their focus is on those voter issues like the economy and declining to comment specifically as this unfolds.

BASH: Okay, Priscilla. Thank you so much for that reporting. Appreciate it. Let's talk about all of this with our panel CNN's Gloria Borger, the AP's Seung Min Kim, Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post, and Axios's Margaret Talev. Happy Friday. We got the green memo obvious (Audio Gap) a balance there.


We're going to talk about the specifics of the actual case in a moment. But let's talk about not just the politics of this, but how personal this is. Gloria, you've covered Joe Biden for quite some time, his family for quite some time. When you heard Hunter Biden in that (Audio Gap) trying to do is -- what they're trying to do -- many Republicans is kill me knowing that it would be a pain greater than my father could handle. I mean, wow.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, he's effectively saying this, this all will kill my father. And I know how personally (Audio Gap) and more so after Beau died, his other son, and he has been very open about Hunter's problems with drugs and everything else. And Hunter has written a book about it.

But you know, now this is a situation where the president facing a possible impeachment of his own (Audio Gap) trial for felonies. And so, the political, the personal and the legal worlds all collide. And, you know, I don't think you can underestimate what a tough situation this is for the president and his family.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Right, right. I think so much of president (Audio Gap) big part of his biography. You know, he had a beautiful recounting of his grief and his sort of life with Anderson Cooper that was released earlier this week wasn't wonderful. Listen, I'll say that. And what the president has -- it's been tricky, you know, politically for the president because this is a son.

He is showing (Audio Gap) as a father, just how much, you know, he cares for his son. Hunter is all -- Hunter and his family are always with him when, you know, the president travels to Nantucket or elsewhere for vacation. He was asked about the impeachment proceedings with earlier this week that they were a bunch of lies. So obviously, this is very tough for him.

BASH: (Audio Gap) a sound bite from Anderson's fantastic interview. We are going to take a very quick break. And I think we have some audio issues that we want to fix. Live television folks don't go anywhere, we'll be right back.




BASH: Welcome back to Inside Politics. We are going to continue our discussion that we began before the break about the indictment of Hunter Biden on tax issues and the politics of how Joe Biden himself or the Biden campaign are responding. And also, of course, Hunter Biden's legal team.

And you know, it really is a -- well, we heard before the break this new podcast about -- from Hunter Biden, it was taped earlier. But him talking -- initially what we played was him talking about the fact that they're trying to kill me. We were talking during the break. And I think it's important to underscore. It's clear what he means is, trying to get me back on drugs to the point where I will, you know, sort of destroy myself and then that will do the same to my father.

Let's listen to a little bit more of what Hunter Biden said in this podcast with the musician Moby.


HUNTER BIDEN, PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN SON: The one way in which they would be able to certainly just undermine my dad's confidence and ability to continue to campaign and move forward, particularly after the death of my brother, to think that he could lose his son that he just had regained from an almost death through addiction.



MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean this is the kind of split screen that we're going to see next year, right? We're going to see Donald Trump in court and we're going to also see Hunter Biden in court. And this has always been something that Biden's orbit has been cognizant of.

Yes, they know that Hunter has had his problems, but their biggest worry has always been how does the president actually deal with that? And it's not something that they necessarily go and talk to him about because it is so personal.

And it's going to be those moments, you know, whether Hunter is on trial. What is the president doing that day? How is he going to temper being able to see his son under so much scrutiny, which is already happening now, and Hunter is making that very clear in this podcast. And it is a way, he's not wrong to say that this is something that just hurts his father so much.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: I hear in between the lines of what he's saying and the acknowledgement about the vulnerability or volatility of his own emotional state these last few years. And part of the reason he's saying that is because he's acknowledging, I have struggled mentally, with what this is doing to my father's ability to govern, with the knowledge and the heaviness of kind of the agony which is brought on the family.

So, it is a real glimpse into the more private conversations inside parts of the Biden household. And I think to some extent, his assessment is undeniable. The Republicans are going after him because they see it as a way to get in President Biden's head.

BASH: Yeah, yeah. Well, getting his head, but also have what they call a split screen.


BASH: It is different. And I'm sure, obviously, you would agree with us to have a trial with the president's son on tax issues versus four trials, plus against the actual candidate himself on very different including like democratic existential issues.

BORGER: If you see what public (ph) is even complaining that this indictment wasn't enough because it didn't involve Joe Biden, right?

BASH: Right, exactly. And let's get to this. We were going to talk to some legal experts, which is why we didn't start with the actual case. But let's get to it now. What we're talking about here, we're talking about six counts of failure to file and pay taxes, two counts false and fraudulent tax return, and one count of evasion of assessment.

And, Gloria, you have this, and then you have the Hunter Biden legal team, Abbe Lowell, in particular, his lawyer saying, U.S attorney Weiss bowed to Republican pressure to file unprecedented and unconstitutional gun charges to renege on a non-prosecution resolution.

Now, after five years of investigating with no new evidence, two years after Hunter paid his taxes in full, the U.S. attorney has piled on nine new charges, which he agreed to resolve months ago. The argument is -- we had this plea deal, it fell apart. And effectively, I'm paraphrasing here. The reason that they're going after him legally right now is because of political pressure from Republicans and nothing has actually changed in the interim.

BORGER: Well, the history of this as Abbe Lowell points out is really convoluted. I mean, there was a deal and then it fell apart. The judge questioned it -- it fell apart. And then the prosecutor said, well make me a special counsel because I'll have broader jurisdiction. He gets to be a special counsel and suddenly you have charges in Delaware, the gun charge, and suddenly you have the tax charges.

Even though, you know, Hunter Biden didn't repay these taxes. But it's a way also to reveal his dissolute lifestyle that he led, which he has written about, but it is an embarrassment. And, you know, these are serious felony charges which could involve jail time.

BASH: Yeah. No, it could. You mentioned, Gloria, the fact that Republicans are upset about this, and they think that the whole reason were not good thing. They argue that the whole reason that this indictment has come on taxes, and before it is you mentioned, in the gun charges in Delaware is to protect the president.

Listen to what James Comer who is the Chairman of the Oversight Committee said. He said, "Hunter Biden's corporate entities implicated by today's indictments, funneled foreign cash that landed in Joe Biden's bank account. Unless U.S. attorney Weiss investigates everyone involved in the Biden's fraud schemes and influence peddling, it will be clear President Biden's DOJ is protecting 100 Hunter Biden and the big guy."

SOTOMAYOR: Yeah. He's essentially saying like, look, DOJ, go do the work that we House Republicans are trying to do and find the connection. We're saying that there's these connections. I mean, privately House Republicans admit, there is no there there. That's still not going to preclude them from voting to open a formal impeachment inquiry.


You remember Kevin McCarthy kind of unilaterally did this. There's a number of House Republicans who say, well if we want to actually subpoena people and that holds in the court of law, we need to have a vote. So, we should expect to see that next week.

But even so, a lot of these more vulnerable Republicans do not want to be talking about impeachment of anyone, because it's going to be consequential politically. I mean, a lot of people on the Hill just don't think that as much as Comer and Jordan are going to go out there and say, there is a there there. The evidence is not there that Biden has done anything.

TALEV: Yeah. I think there's two ways to look into this. And one is -- as an American citizen as a voter trying to understand it. One is to say, if the Justice Department and the prosecutors have taken this much thorough scrutiny to go through all of Hunter Biden's dealings, and this is what they have come up with and there are not additional charges in the foreign influence peddling round ---

BASH: Which there's no indication that there will be, right?

TALEV: Right. Then it isn't there. And that can satisfy people that there's been a thorough investigation. I think the other way to look at it is they're going to use this -- try to use this politically for all they can. And we've heard a lot of attorneys over the course of the last day say, this sounds like a lot of money in the tax -- unpaid tax cases.

But in the big picture, cases with more money than this on the line gets settled all the time. But if you're an average American, this is a lot of money. And the money that was spent on is kind of, you know, over the top.

BASH: I just want to brief because I said, we would -- before the break, come back around to where we started this conversation. And listen to what the president told Anderson Cooper in his podcast about grief.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (voiceover): And look, Beau and Hunt, they finish each other's sentences, they are as close as they could possibly be. And I think the loss of Beau was a profound, profound impact on Hunter. But when Jill and I got married, she was just totally embraced by them. Everything we've done, we've always done as a really close-knit family.


BASH: And Frank Foer, who wrote a biography of President Biden said specifically that he is constantly waiting for the phone to ring and say that Hunter is dead. He's so concerned that his son -- his remaining son, will fall off the wagon effectively. It's very complicated and very important political story and personal story. Everybody stay right there. We'll be right back after a break.



BASH: Welcome back to Inside Politics. I want to bring in our legal experts, and of course, one of our great reporters on all things, legal matters. Evan Perez is with us as well as Elliot Williams. Thank you both for coming on. Evan, I want to start with you. And I want to start with the Hunter Biden situation.

You heard in last block we were talking about the indictment how lengthy it is, and the fact that we do hear Hunter Biden's legal team saying it's a big indictment, but like nothing has changed with regard to either the charges or the tax law that he is alleged to have had broken. The only thing that's different is that the plea deal went away. And now there's a special counsel. What are you hearing from your sources?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Dana -- look, this is a big legal problem for Hunter Biden. The Justice Department says that he could face up to 17 years in prison. No one really thinks that that's what is going to happen here. But that's what the general guidelines are.

But you know, the critics are right, that the facts really haven't changed. They haven't changed since we first broke the story back in December of 2020, that this investigation was ongoing. And that it was a real thing, that it was a real problem.

And so, one of the questions that the Justice Department I think it's going to struggle to answer is, what has taken this long to really end up at the same place they've been since then. And you can see what Republicans are saying, is that you haven't really turned over every stone. And so that's going to be the part of political part of this going forward.

But you do have the problem that the president's son is going to be facing these court dates. He's going to be -- this is going to come back up in the headlines. And we'll see whether a jury in Los Angeles is going to buy this case that is being brought by prosecutors because after all, Hunter Biden paid these taxes, and they're going to make the point that most people who end up paying, even if they paid late, and if they had these problems, don't get charged criminally.

BASH: Elliot, talk about that from the point of view of having served in DOJ and prosecuting cases.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. I mean, I think and then picking up on the kinds of details that are coming out that Evan pointed to. I think the challenge here for prosecutors in court is going to be -- which of these details are actually even going to make it into court. They are salacious and -- I guess, salacious is the word for the kinds of details you're talking about here.

And there's a chance that a judge can keep some of this out because if you're establishing that an individual number one didn't file his taxes, and number two, try to evade his taxes. It probably isn't relevant that he was doing so in order to pay off sex workers or buy drugs or whatever else.