by Peter Hasson and Chuck Ross
Hunter Biden touted his political connections in 2019 while unsuccessfully pitching the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law on letting him teach a course on drug policy, emails obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation show.
In his pitch, Biden listed off a number of possible guest speakers, most of whom had ties to his father, Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“In 2019, Hunter Biden inquired about the possibility of teaching a course at UCLA School of Law, and he and school leaders held preliminary conversations about the possibility,” the law school’s executive director of communications, Bill Kisliuk, told the DCNF in an email.
“Mr. Biden subsequently did not submit further materials for the proposed course, which is a required step when the school is considering adding a course. There are no plans for Mr. Biden to teach at the law school,” Kisliuk added.
Joe Biden, who now leads the Democratic primary after a strong Super Tuesday performance, told reporters in October 2019 that Hunter was “gonna be teaching at law school next year.”
Hunter moved to Los Angeles in early 2018, though little is known about his activities there. During his father’s presidential bid, Republicans have set their sights on Hunter’s ties to foreign companies, including in China and Ukraine.
Hunter served on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings through April 2019, leaving the position weeks before his father announced his presidential bid. He was also on the board of a Chinese private equity firm through October 2019.
Emails reviewed by the DCNF show that school officials were slow to embrace Hunter’s proposal.
Hunter emailed the law school’s dean, Jennifer Mnookin, in July 2019 to share his vision for the course he wanted to teach.
Hunter, whose struggles with drug abuse have been widely publicized, said he “would like to focus on domestic and international drug policy” in the proposed course. He also attached a syllabus of a course he taught for Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
“I will have some combination of key decision makers, leading thinkers, policy implementers and grass roots advocates as guests for each topic,” he wrote.
He ticked off high-profile figures as possible guests or co-teachers of the course, including former Obama administration officials and friends of his father.
“For instance I’d like to have former Attorney’s [sic] General Dustin McDaniel of Arkansas and Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island to discuss their roles in the state class action suits brought against Purdue Pharma and possibly a prosecutor involved in the criminal cases against the Sackler family,” he wrote.
“For plan Colombia the El Chapo extradition [sic] I’m certain I could get former President Pastrana of Colombia to discuss how he implemented ‘Plan Colombia’ with the US government along with Christopher Putala and Manus Cooney who were both chief’s of staff (Democrat and Republican) to the judiciary committee at the time,” Hunter continued.
“I would also invite former FBI Director Louis Freeh and possibly the US Attorney responsible for that extradition and indictment. For a the class [sic] on decriminalization I would invite [California] Governor [Gavin] Newsom (may be a long shot but I know he would consider it if his schedule allows),” he added. “The list goes on.”
McDaniel represented Hunter in a paternity lawsuit until withdrawing as counsel in December 2019. Others on Hunter’s list have direct ties to his father.
Pastrana, the former Columbian president, worked with Joe Biden during the latter’s time in the Senate and has also described Biden as his friend. Putala is a lobbyist who once worked for Joe Biden in the Senate.
Freeh once described Joe Biden as a “dear friend” of his. Hunter reportedly recruited the former FBI chief in 2016 to serve on the legal team of Gabriel Popoviciu, a Romanian real estate magnate convicted of bribery charges in Bucharest.
Mnookin, the law school dean, indicated in her email that she met with Biden and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden.
“It was great to meet you and Melissa last month, and I very much appreciate your following up and sending along the attached syllabus,” she wrote in an Aug. 9, 2019, email. “I think this offers some very exciting possibilities, and I look forward to seeing what we may be able to do.”
Mnookin passed along Hunter’s email to another law school official, Steven Bank.
“As Vice Dean for Curricular and Academic Affairs, I typically help craft the schedule and identify and develop proposed new courses, although the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty have the final say on approving any proposed additions,” Bank wrote in an email to Hunter.
“In determining whether this would be a good fit for the Law School, it might helpful for us to talk further,” he added, and asked when “it might be a good time for us to have a phone call to discuss further.”
Hunter replied in ten words: “Please let me know when you are available to speak.”
“Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, although I hope I didn’t give you the impression in my e-mail that this was a rush,” Bank replied. “If we decided to move forward, this wouldn’t even be considered by the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty until Spring 2020 for a Spring 2021 slot most likely.”
Talks between the two parties apparently broke down sometime after that.
The emails between Hunter and the UCLA officials were obtained through the California Public Records Act and provided to the DCNF.
The emails fill in some of the gaps of what Hunter has been doing in the months since his father began running for president.
Biden moved to Los Angeles following a divorce from his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle. He and Melissa Cohen Biden, his current wife, live in a $12,000-per-month house in the Hollywood Hills, according to a glowing profile of Hunter that The New York Times published Friday.
Biden acknowledged his struggles with drug addiction in that profile, telling the Times that he was addicted to crack for four years. He has since taken up painting as therapy to deal with his struggles with addiction.
Though Hunter is now based in L.A., he was conspicuously absent at his father’s rally there Tuesday night after his strong Super Tuesday showing. The former vice president was accompanied on stage by his wife and sister.
George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter, did not respond to a request for comment.
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