WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said that she’s “not familiar” with a widely reported claim that a company associated with first son Hunter Biden received $3.5 million from the wife of Moscow’s former mayor, after being asked by The Post what the payment was for.
“I’m not familiar with that claim. It doesn’t sound like it’s backed up by a lot of evidence. If you have evidence or specifics, I’m happy to discuss it further,” Psaki said at her daily press briefing in response to a question from The Post.
Psaki said, referring to a report from the Senate Finance and Homeland Security committees that made the claim, “I’m not familiar with the report at all.”
The alleged 2014 payment was frequently cited during the presidential campaign last year. Then-President Donald Trump often raised it at public events including at campaign rallies and both presidential debates.
The claim was the subject of one of the most contentious moments of the first presidential debate between Trump and Biden, with a flustered Biden denying his son got the money and calling Trump a “clown.”
The Senate report, released in September, said the firm linked to Hunter Biden received $3.5 million from Elena Baturina, the widow of former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. The senators said they did not know the purpose of the payment.
At the Sept. 29 presidential debate in Cleveland, Trump peppered Biden with questions about the payment.
“Just out of curiosity, the mayor of Moscow’s wife gave your son $3.5 million … What did he do to deserve it?” Trump said, also noting Hunter Biden’s reported $83,000 per month job on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma while the elder Biden controlled the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
Biden replied, “None of that is true.”
“Oh really, he didn’t get $3.5 million?” Trump said.
“It’s totally discredited — totally discredited,” Biden insisted.
“Well wait, he didn’t get $3.5 million, Joe? He got $3.5 million,” Trump said.
“That is not true,” Biden insisted.
At the second and final president debate in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 22, Trump launched into an attack on Biden over the report.
“Joe got $3.5 million from Russia. And it came through Putin, because he was very friendly with the former mayor of Moscow and it was the mayor of Moscow’s wife. He got $3.5 million. Your family got $3.5 million and you know, someday you’re gonna have to explain — why did you get three and a half [million]?” Trump said.
Hunter Biden co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners in 2009. The Senate report claimed Hunter Biden co-founded Rosemont Seneca Thorton — the entity that got the alleged $3.5 million — in 2013. The Senate report said Rosemont Seneca Thorton is a consortium of Rosemont Seneca Partners and the Thornton Group.
“The Thornton Group’s website stated that it has offices in Boston and Beijing, lists Rosemont Seneca Partners among its list of alliances and clients, and includes photographs from multiple events attended by Hunter Biden,” the Senate report said.
Hunter Biden’s lawyer George Mesires denied last year that he benefited from the $3.5 million payment to Rosemont Seneca Thornton. “Hunter Biden had no interest in and was not a co-founder of Rosemont Seneca Thornton, so the claim that he was paid $3.5 million is false,” Mesires said in a statement.
After the Senate report, a Delaware computer repairman provided to The Post documents from a laptop formerly belonging to Hunter Biden that detailed his father’s apparent connection to business deals in China and Ukraine.
The repairman contacted the Senate Homeland Security Committee and provided it with some of the documents one day after it released the report on Joe Biden’s apparent conflicts of interest in his son’s business dealings, as well as the alleged $3.5 million transfer.
As of last month, the first son still owned 10 percent of an investment fund controlled by Chinese state-owned entities. The fund was formed 12 days after Hunter Biden joined his father aboard Air Force Two for a December 2013 trip to Beijing.