Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Hunter Biden legal defense fund under discussion as main benefactor retreats

By 37ci3 May18,2024

WASHINGTON — Allies of Hunter Biden are re-examining whether two people close to the president should set up a legal defense fund to help pay for his legal fees after a similar attempt late last year. Joe Biden received a briefing on how the defense fund would operate, according to multiple sources familiar with the current and previous efforts.

The current interest in a fund to help pay for Biden’s mounting legal fees comes as the president’s son faces two criminal convictions. starting next month and reducing its main financial support.

Four sources close to Hunter Biden told NBC News that one approach allies have recently discussed is the creation of a small public endowment fund. They described such a move as a last resort should efforts to seek greater financial support fail, stressing that no decision has been made to move forward.

Hollywood attorney Kevin Morris, who until recently financed Biden’s legal defense, said his inability to continue as a major funder comes at a dangerous time. “It’s a very difficult situation,” Morris told NBC News. “The timing couldn’t have been worse.”

“I have made it clear for many months that I have exhausted my ability to be the sole source of funding for legal defense and everything else,” he said.

Biden is estimated to have over $10 million in legal fees. Both criminal trials stemming from an investigation by special counsel David Weiss are scheduled to begin in June. In Delaware, he faces three counts of filling out a false form to purchase a gun in 2018, and nine counts in California related to his taxes. If convicted, Biden faces significant prison time.


David Jolly, a Florida lawyer and former Republican congressman, said he received an urgent phone call in early December from someone close to the Biden family. Since early 2023, after Morris approached him and spoke with members of Biden’s legal team, Jolly has been quietly exploring what a legal defense fund for the president’s son would look like.

Jolly told NBC News that during the phone call, he was asked to brief two people close to the president on his plan. His briefing outlined how the legal defense fund would work — essentially as a blind trust — and the estimated costs of setting it up. He also explained that a trust could raise money for legal expenses and withstand the expected scrutiny from the Justice Department, congressional investigators and the media.

“I provided information on what the legal architecture would be,” Jolly said.

Jolly is a contributor to MSNBC, a role he also played in early December.

A briefing in early December detailed past practices and recommended rules for legal defense funds, such as no foreign money, no contributions from registered lobbyists or federal employees, and confirmation that donors have no business with the federal government.

Jolly’s proposal includes a recommendation that all donations remain completely confidential to ensure the president is not aware of who is contributing. It also stipulated that the money in the defense fund could only be used for bills and not for any other expenditure.

Jolly said at the briefing that he never had a role or compensation for himself, but said he would be available to serve as a consultant to the defense fund and potential donors. The plan also recommended the inclusion of a separate ethics consultant.

“To protect everyone involved, if there is a potential backer, please call me,” he said, describing the proposal. He said he recommends this approach “so that [the] The White House didn’t know about it, Hunter didn’t know about it.”

Later, the president and first lady were briefed on Jolly’s presentation on how the legal defense fund would operate, according to a person familiar with the discussion.

Jolly said he was never contacted by White House counsel about the matter. He said he did not know if the president or the first lady had been briefed on his plan, but that the two people he presented it to “had the ear of the president.”

He said his proposed defense fund never got off the ground and he was not paid for the work. Jolly said she stopped working on the effort this spring when it became clear she lacked donor support.

A White House official told NBC News on Friday evening that the White House was not involved in any legal defense fund efforts for the president’s son.

“Since taking office, the president has pledged not to be involved in Hunter’s legal affairs, and accordingly, the White House is not involved in Hunter’s legal strategy or funding. Hunter is a private citizen with a strong legal team and they make any decisions,” the official said.

Initialization failure

No official legal defense fund has been launched and there is no official leadership for such an effort, although several close friends have made small personal donations totaling less than $300,000 for legal fees, according to a source familiar with the effort.

Biden’s allies have different theories as to why that is. Part of the reason, they say, is that some potential donors worried that their names would be revealed if they contributed and that they would face public pressure or subpoenas from the Justice Department or Congress if the foundation was investigated. House Republicans have already launched a lengthy investigation into Biden’s business dealings.

Jolly said he believes the president’s political advisers are also trying to block any attempt to create a legal defense fund.

“It’s horrible,” he said.

“I believe they’ve told willing donors to stay away and not do it,” Jolly said, citing examples of talking to someone who wanted to consider contributing to a legal defense fund for Biden, only to later “evaporate.”

Jolly said a senior Democratic operative once called Biden “expendable.” Two sources said they once heard senior operatives describe the president’s son as a “hostage” rather than a priority.

Three sources familiar with the effort to raise money to support Biden said they believe pressure from the president’s advisers — directly or indirectly — prevented the creation of a legal defense fund.

Jolly’s effort to help raise money to pay for Hunter Biden’s legal expenses is not alone. There have been other attempts over the past year, some more informal, according to three sources familiar with the matter. Democratic operatives handling fundraising efforts and campaigning for Biden said they faced resistance from the president’s top political advisers.

“It was basically an attempt to stop this by contacting Democratic donors,” said one operative, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Those close to Hunter Biden said they would like to see more public support for him from the White House or Democratic surrogates. The president and first lady rallied around their son, expressing their pride in his recovery from addiction, and both made it clear they did not believe he was guilty of any wrongdoing.

The White House has been active in responding to attacks on the first family, including Hunter Biden, as part of the ongoing Republican House. impeachment inquiry.

White House aides are wary of getting too bent on defending the commander-in-chief’s son, lest the president or other high-profile Democrats appear to be meddling in the commander-in-chief’s legal affairs, people familiar with the matter said.

Other allies of the president believe that his support for his son is critical to him personally and is part of his appeal to voters as a demonstration of his values.

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By 37ci3

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