Both the White House and State Department bluntly replied Hunter Biden was a "private citizen" when asked about his new role with Ukraine's largest gas producer and whether that could pose a conflict given the tense situation between the U.S. and Russia.
Biden is the younger son of Vice President Joe Biden.
"Does this building diplomatically have any concerns about potential perceptions of conflict or/cronyism — which is what you've often accused the Russians of doing?" Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked.
"No, he's a private citizen," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki replied shortly.
White House press secretary Jay Carney referred ABC's Jon Karl to the vice president's office and said Hunter Biden's work did not reflect an endorsement by the administration in any way.
White House exchange:
JON KARL: On another subject, Hunter Biden has now taken a position with the largest oil and gas company — holding company in Ukraine. Is there any concern about at least the appearance of a conflict there — (inaudible) — the vice president's son —
JAY CARNEY: I would refer you to the vice president's office. I saw those reports. You know, Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family are obviously private citizens, and where they work does not reflect an endorsement by the administration or by the vice president or president. But I would refer you to the vice president's office.
State Department exchange:
MATT LEE: And it was — the question was referred to the vice president's office. But I'm wondering if the State Department has any concerns or any thoughts about the vice president's son joining the board of directors of this Ukrainian gas company. Does — in particular, I understand when — the White House would refer this to the vice president's office, but does this building diplomatically have any concerns about potential perceptions of conflict or/cronyism — which is what you've often accused the Russians of doing?
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JEN PSAKI: No, he's a private citizen.
LEE: I — OK. But then so the — do you consider that the Russian oligarchs who control or the Ukrainian oligarchs who control these, they're all private citizens as well, correct?
PSAKI: We certainly wouldn't put them in the same category on that.
LEE: No, I'm not suggesting that — I'm not — and I'm not suggesting that it should be in the same category, but I'm wondering if if there are concerns in this building about the perception of — about how the Russians and / or the Ukrainians would perceive the involvement of a son of the vice president of the United States in this, especially given the situation.
PSAKI: No, there are not.