When reporters asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki to address potential ethics violations over Hunter Biden's art sales at apparently inflated prices — as high as a half million dollars — she said that "a system has been established."
But that "system" only makes matters worse. She claimed at Friday’s daily briefing that transparency will be attained by keeping the details of each sale away from the public.
"The gallerist will not share information about buyers or prospective buyers, including their identities with Hunter Biden or the administration, which provides quite a level of protection and transparency,'' Psaki claimed.
In other words "just trust us, we know what we’re doing," she may as well have said.
Even CNN, one of the administrations strongest allies, raised its eyebrows at that one.
CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig said Saturday that "It looks terrible for the White House. And they've got a complicated ethics problem on their hands now."
He suggested instead that "full transparency is never a bad idea.” Honig added, “let people know, give people all the facts … appearances really matter here."
Walter Shaub, former President Obama’s ethics chief, skewered the Biden White House in a Twitter thread because of the art scheme: "So instead of disclosing who is paying outrageous sums for Hunter Biden’s artwork so that we could monitor whether the purchasers are gaining access to government, the WH tried to make sure we will never know who they are. That’s very disappointing," Shaub said.
"The idea's that even Hunter won't know, but the WH has outsourced government ethics to a private art dealer," he continued. "We're supposed to trust a merchant in an industry that's fertile ground for money laundering, as well as unknown buyers who could tell Hunter or WH officials? No thanks."
And making the ethics hinge on a private art dealer in this case is even more problematic.
Alarm bells began clamoring in January when Hunter Biden first announced that he was teaming up with Manhattan art dealer Georges Berges, a man with a past as nearly as shady as Hunter’s.
- In 1998 he was arrested in California and charged with making "terrorist threats" and assault with a deadly weapon, The charges were eventually dismissed.
- In 2016 he was sued for defrauding an investor of $500,000. He countersued and the two settled in 2018.
- Finally, Berges has strong business ties with China. This is certainly the most troubling issue given that Hunter still has business interests in a billion-dollar Chinese investment firm.
When you factor in President Biden’s reputation for being soft on China, you may be able to get a picture who might be willing to pay an inflated price for a mediocre piece of art work — foreign officials seeking access to the Biden White House.
It’s a formula for influence peddling, which the Bidens have allegedly nurtured to their own art form — a fact not lost on former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "Hunter Biden has to be required to report on the source of the $75,000 to $500,000 he will reportedly be paid for each piece of his new ‘art,'" he tweeted Saturday.
"This is an invitation to corruption. The Congress should pass a small law requiring him to report the sources of the money."
The July 4th weekend ushered in another piece of news from the art world.
A newly-discovered painting by Pablo Picasso, missing for some five decades, was released and sold at public auction. It went for $150,000 — less than one-third of what some of Hunter’s will fetch.
But Picasso is dead and his father isn’t president of the United States.
Also, Hunter uses a straw instead of a brush.
He has a lot of experience with straws.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. Read Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
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