Biden snaps back as reporter asks him about ‘big guy’ controversy

Hunter Biden laptop conspiracies have hounded White House for months

John Bowden
Washington DC
Friday 16 June 2023 16:00 BST
Biden asks reporter why he asked 'such a dumb question'

A reporter who asked President Joe Biden a question related to the various conspiracies and theories surrounding his son’s business dealings received a short dismissal in response on Thursday.

Mr Biden was hosting an event at the White House with the CEOs of companies committed to ending so-called “junk fees”, or hidden costs in the transactions of various products and services that leave Americans paying more than the advertised price.

As he took questions from pool reporters, the president was asked a question by an unidentified journalist, who said: “Why did the Ukraine FBI informant file refer to you as the ‘big guy’?”

The president shot back, "Why'd you ask such a dumb question?" as reporters were ushered out of the room.

The question referred to an FBI human intelligence form generated in July 2020, the contents of which have been described by various unnamed sources to Fox News and other conservative news outlets. It supposedly details an allegation communicated to the FBI regarding a $5m payment supposedly made to Joe Biden by a Ukrainian company while he was serving as vice president.

The allegation came from an FBI source who described multiple conversations with an executive at Burisma, the company in question, where Mr Biden’s son Hunter served as a board member. But there’s no hard evidence of a payment being made, and Mr Biden has denied ever speaking to his son about his business dealings in Ukraine.

Republicans have latched on to the story and insisted that there is already smoking-gun evidence that Mr Biden received the payment, and was in fact the “big guy” referred to in the file and a separate email taken from a laptop formerly belonging to Hunter Biden. The younger Biden has denied any wrongdoing in his foreign business affairs.

Complicating the issue is the fact that US intelligence agencies apparently warned social media outfits in 2020 that the story’s origins resembled a possible Russian disinformation effort, which turned out to not be the case. Initial reports about the laptop (many of which veered into the territory of unverified conspiracies) were voluntarily suppressed by administrators of some social media platforms. Those involved with the story’s suppression have since said that the hyper-sensitive atmosphere created by Russian interference in 2016 contributed to their decision.

Mr Biden and his son have not been accused or charged with any crimes by US law enforcement authorities, though Hunter remains under investigation for possible tax law violations as well as for possibly lying on an application to purchase a firearm.

Republicans continue to investigate the issue with the powers of the House Oversight Committee, though as of yet have failed to uncover any incriminating evidence.

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