The Hunter Biden story has stories within said story that are complex. I should note that Hunter Biden is not a party to the classified document scandal surrounding his father. Here's a breakdown of issues pertaining to Hunter directly
Joe Biden was elected Vice President and served under Barack Obama from 2009-2017. In 2014, Hunter Biden was hired by Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, ostensibly as a lawyer, but also as a board member. They reportedly paid him upwards of $83,000/mo.
In 2016, Joe Biden was instrumental in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor named Viktor Shokin. (This is a direct Joe Biden quote, trimmed for clarity only)
One of those things is missing now. And that is I’m desperately concerned about the backsliding on the part of Kiev in terms of corruption. (snip) And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.
I said [we're] not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. (snip) I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.
At that time, Shokin had an open investigation into Burisma. It's not clear if the investigation was actively being pursued at the time of Shokin's firing. There were also ethical questions about Shokin's actions.
Activists say the case had been sabotaged by Shokin himself. As an example, they say two months before Hunter Biden joined Burisma's board, British authorities had requested information from Shokin's office as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering by Zlochevskiy. Shokin ignored them.
Still, Joe Biden applied political and monetary pressure for the firing of a prosecutor investigating a company where his son is on the board. It's still ethically questionable the way it was done. The normal way to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest is to recuse oneself and let others make the decision. They way Joe tells it, he got the job done himself.
The Laptop Story
The Hunter Biden laptop story is really a story unto itself. The basics of the original story are
A laptop was taken to a Delaware repair shop (it's not clear who brought it in) in August of 2019 and never paid for or retrieved. As with such places, if you do that, you are essentially forfeiting the device.
The repair shop owner looked at the data on the laptop and found all sorts of data from Hunter Biden, including emails, photos and videos (some of which depict Hunter nude)
On October 14, 2020, the New York Post posted a story that contained emails purportedly from Hunter Biden that contained things that may have pertained to then Vice President and now Presidential candidate Joe Biden
Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post.
Hunter denied the laptop was his in 2021 (7:12 remarks) but has later had to admit the laptop and data were his when he wrote letters complaining that his privacy has been breached
What happened to The Laptop Story
At this point, the story was just that: a news story that was meant to be something of an "October surprise" to the Biden election. What happened next has become its own fiasco. While Hunter was not a party to this, it was a "meta" issue related to the story about his laptop.
Most media outlets that cast doubt on the story have had to admit that The Laptop Story is indeed about a real laptop previously owned by Hunter. There is a separate issue about the social media treatment that I won't go into (it's recently blown up again with Elon Musk revealing Twitter internal emails) beyond saying that Twitter's then-CEO regretted blocking the story.
The Laptop Story, Part II
Once the scandal about the story being suppressed died down, we learned that Hunter Biden is under Federal investigation
The probe, which is focused on possible tax law violations, has also examined Hunter Biden’s business dealings with foreign interests — a topic that has animated Biden detractors — and its existence first came to light amid a controversy about the leak of Hunter Biden’s laptop files.
We've also seen some of the emails imply Joe Biden might have been part of the Ukrainian dealings of Hunter (Joe Biden denies any involvement). The strangest would be an email that had the now-infamous phrase "and 10% for the big guy", which has been implied to be Joe
Cryptically the remaining 20 percent would be divided, with 10 percent to 'Jim' - likely Hunter's uncle, Jim Biden, and '10 held by H for the big guy'.
If the 'big guy' is indeed Joe Biden, it would contradict his insistence that he was not involved in his son's business dealings. The president has long rubbished any suggestion of financial impropriety.
There's also this email about Chinese businesses paying Hunter for "introductions"
Biden wrote that Ye had sweetened the terms of an earlier, three-year consulting contract with CEFC that was to pay him $10 million annually “for introductions alone.”
And one of Hunter's clients (who paid him a $1M retaining fee) has been convicted of bribery
In December 2018, a Manhattan federal jury convicted Ho in two schemes to pay $3 million in bribes to high-ranking government officials in Africa for oil rights in Chad and lucrative business deals in Uganda.
Hunter also served on the board of a Chinese company
In 2013, Hunter flew aboard Air Force Two with his father, who was then vice-president, on an official visit to Beijing, where the younger Biden met investment banker Jonathan Li.
Hunter told the New Yorker he had just met Mr Li for "a cup of coffee", but 12 days after the trip a private equity fund, BHR Partners, was approved by the Chinese authorities. Mr Li was chief executive and Hunter was a board member. He would hold a 10% stake.
Hunter Biden's Art
Hunter Biden is now an artist. The problem is that Hunter is selling that art for large sums of money, which is unusual for a relatively new artist. There are some questions about how that art is being sold
Hunter Biden’s artwork is set to be displayed and sold in September at a private and confidential opening in Los Angeles, followed by an invite-only event in New York, a Georges Bergés Gallery spokesperson said. Pieces are priced between $75,000 and $500,000, according to the spokesperson.
Two sources familiar with the sales arrangement told CNN that the purchaser of the artwork will be kept anonymous and neither Hunter Biden nor the public will have knowledge of who bid on or purchased the work. If there is any unusual behavior – such as the offer price being too high or the collector doesn’t appear interested in the work – the gallery is expected to turn down the offer, the sources said.
However, there’s no clear enforcement mechanism for the standards agreed upon by the gallery and the prospective purchasers of Hunter Biden originals.
By itself, this story isn't very problematic. But with other questions about Hunter's potentially peddling influence, it certainly doesn't look good either.