Joe Biden offers forceful defense of his son's Ukraine work at Democratic debate
Posted October 15, 2019 10:33 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2019 11:05 p.m. EDT
CNN — Former Vice President Joe Biden offered a forceful defense of his son during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, saying voters should focus on President Donald Trump's "corruption" instead of Hunter Biden's previous work in Ukraine.
"My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong," Biden said during the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. "I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in -- in Ukraine. And that's what we should be focusing on."
Biden's comments came in response to a question from CNN's Anderson Cooper about whether it was appropriate for his son to have served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, while he was in charge of Ukraine policy in the Obama administration. President Donald Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and his Republican allies have used Hunter Biden's foreign business ties to characterize the Bidens as corrupt, despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden in Ukraine.
Biden pointed to an interview released earlier Tuesday that his son gave to ABC, saying Hunter Biden's response "speaks for itself."
"My son's statement speaks for itself. What I think is important is we focus on why it's so important to remove this man (Trump) from office," the former vice president said.
The Tuesday interview was the first time Hunter Biden had responded to questions about his foreign work.
Trump -- who is facing an impeachment inquiry in the Democrat-controlled House related to a July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky -- has pushed an unproven accusation that then-Vice President Biden improperly tried to help his son by pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire the country's prosecutor general. A whistleblower complaint released last month alleges that Trump abused his official powers "to solicit interference" from Ukraine by repeatedly pushing Zelensky during the call to investigate the Bidens.
Hunter Biden told ABC that he used "poor judgment" in serving on the foreign gas company's board because it has become a political liability for his father.
"I did nothing wrong at all," Hunter Biden said. "However, was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is -- it's a swamp, in many ways? Yeah."
"Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever," he added.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker -- who previously vowed that "if you come after Joe Biden, you're going to have to deal with me in this case -- came to the former vice president's defense during the Democratic debate.
"We are literally using Donald Trump's lies, and the second issue we cover on this stage is elevating a lie and attacking a statesman," Booker said, adding: "He should not have to defend ourselves and the only person sitting at home that was enjoying that was Donald Trump seeing that we're distracting from his malfeasance."
The President, Biden added Tuesday night, is "flat lying" because he doesn't want the competition.
"The President and his thugs have already proven that they in fact are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump. He doesn't want me to be the candidate," he said. "He's going after me because he knows if I get the nomination I will beat him like a drum."