By LUCIEN BRUGGEMAN, ABC News
(WILMINGTON, De.) — Hunter Biden, the president-elect’s embattled son, announced Wednesday that federal prosecutors in Delaware are investigating his “tax affairs,” a development that marks the latest controversy surrounding the Biden family’s private business endeavors.
In his statement, Hunter Biden, 50, said he and his attorney learned of the investigation on Tuesday, and that he remains “confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”
Ahead of the November presidential election, President Donald Trump and his allies sought unsuccessfully to characterize Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings over the past decade as evidence of Biden family corruption.
The probe predates by more than a year the attacks leveled by Trump and his supporters during the campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter.
A separate source with knowledge of the investigation said the tax probe began in 2018, and that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware waited to notify Hunter Biden’s legal team due to sensitivities around the 2020 presidential election.
Officials with both the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware and the FBI declined to comment when contacted by ABC News. A lawyer for Hunter Biden did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s finances and business dealings first emerged shortly after his father announced his bid for the presidency in the spring of 2019.
Political foes of then-candidate Joe Biden focused on Hunter Biden’s work as a board member for a Ukrainian oil firm as well as a series of ill-fated investment endeavors in China, and tried unsuccessfully to persuade voters that the former vice president had knowledge of, and benefited from, his son’s dealings.
Candidate Biden denied that, saying that he and his son never discussed his son’s business.
In July of 2019, President Trump encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens — a blending of the president’s foreign policy work and his own political goals that prompted the congressional impeachment inquiry. Trump was impeached by a Democrat-controlled House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and was later acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate on a partisan vote.
While government watchdogs have broadly taken issue with the ethical implications of Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, Wednesday’s development marks the first instance in which the legality of Hunter Biden’s finances have been called into question.
The Biden transition team released a statement of support for Hunter Biden on Wednesday, noting that the president-elect remains “deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger.”
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