Updated Sep 27, 2019

Biden's 2020 family problem

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was Joe Biden’s family that almost kept him from running. Now, it could help drag him down. 

Why it matters: The former vice president is answering questions about family controversies just as Elizabeth Warren is catching him in the polls.

Top Democrats tell us they worry the Ukraine fracas winds up being an albatross for Biden because he'll be associated with an unpopular issue and process, and won't be able to shake questions about Hunter Biden.

  • All the fact checks and "to be sure" paragraphs in the world may not obviate the collateral damage.

A Democratic strategist not affiliated with a campaign said the Hunter Biden problem is not just his work in Ukraine, but all his personal and business issues.

  • They were all detailed in July in a gripping New Yorker article by Adam Entous, who had extensive cooperation from Hunter Biden and the campaign: "Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign? Joe Biden’s son is under scrutiny for his business dealings and tumultuous personal life."

Trump will be "relentless" in exploiting and distorting any dirt on Hunter, the Democratic strategist said.

  • Part of Trump's calculus could be psychological: Trump knows that Biden worries about his son.
  • The possible upside for Biden is that such taunting reinforces the idea that he is the 2020 Democrat most feared by Trump.

The Hillary view: Philippe Reines, a longtime Hillary Clinton confidant, tells Axios he has seen this movie before.

  • "This has nothing to do with the reality of your experience, your life or your past," Reines said. "They’re reimagining you however they want. It’s beyond a case of taking something and exaggerating it."

The Biden campaign's thinking: Biden did nothing wrong.

  • A Biden adviser told me the collateral damage from the Ukraine scandal should be mitigated for the former vice president because people feel they know Biden and find him relatable.
  • The campaign says it has had its best week of fundraising since the second week of the campaign.
  • Biden plans to continue talking about health care, climate change and gun control — although he won't ignore Trump.

The bottom line: The biggest political beneficiary of the impeachment inquiry could be Elizabeth Warren.

Go deeper: Whistleblower alleges Trump abused power to solicit foreign interference

Go deeper

Diplomat told House committees that he flagged Hunter Biden's Ukraine work in 2015

Hunter Biden. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

A top U.S. diplomat told the House committees investigating President Trump's dealings with Ukraine Tuesday that he raised concerns about Hunter Biden's board position at a Ukrainian gas company in 2015, but was brushed off by an aide to former Vice President Joe Biden, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: George Kent's testimony is "the first known example of a career diplomat who raised concerns internally in the Obama administration" about Hunter Biden's work, writes the Post.

Go deeperArrowOct 18, 2019

Trump's trifecta

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

For the 3rd time in 4 years, President Trump has asked another country to interfere in U.S. elections.

The big picture: In July 2016, Trump said Russia should "find" and release Hillary Clinton's emails. In July 2019, he told Ukraine to investigate the Biden family. And today, even as he finds himself embroiled in an impeachment inquiry over this very issue, Trump said that China, too, should investigate the Bidens.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

Hunter Biden to step down from board of Chinese company

Hunter Biden. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA

Hunter Biden, son of the former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, will be leaving the board of BHR Equity Investment — a private equity fund backed by Chinese state-owned entities — at the end of the month, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The younger Biden is leaving the board amid unsubstantiated allegations by President Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he made millions of dollars from BHR Equity Investment while his father was in office. Trump has suggested that China should investigate Hunter, setting off claims by Democrats that the president is soliciting foreign election interference.

Go deeperArrowOct 13, 2019