WASHINGTON — During the first presidential debate, many claims were thrown back and forth between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden -- some of which included Biden's son, Hunter.
One such claim was that Hunter Biden was given $3.5 million by the mayor of Moscow's wife, which Biden denied repeatedly.
Since then, many viewers have asked our Verify team about the authenticity of those claims. And research shows they aren’t as straightforward as presented.
You can hear Trump say this claim at 12:50 in the video below:
Was Hunter Biden paid $3.5 million by the mayor of Moscow's wife?
This claim is currently unproven.
The evidence linking Biden to a payment by the widowed wife of Moscow’s former mayor is murky, despite a Senate report suggesting he was part of the board of a company that received the payment.
PROCESS AND WHAT WE FOUND:
This claim stems from a report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Biden claimed during the debate that the report was "written for political reasons."
The claim is detailed on page 69 of the report’s text. It said, “Hunter Biden and his associate, Archer, had a financial relationship with Russian businesswoman Elena Baturina. Baturina is the former wife of the late Yuri Luzhkov, who was the mayor of Moscow and was fired in 2010 by then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations.”
It then went on to describe the alleged payment: “On Feb. 14, 2014, Baturina wired $3.5 million to a Rosemont Seneca Thornton LLC (Rosemont Seneca Thornton) bank account for a “Consultancy Agreement DD12.02.2014. Rosemont Seneca Thornton is an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden that was incorporated on May 28, 2013 in Wilmington, Del.”
Statements from Biden’s lawyer since the release of this report say that he had no interest in and was not a co-founder of Rosemont Seneca Thornton.
The Senate committee referenced a Financial Times article as evidence of Biden’s involvement and said, “Rosemont Seneca Thornton is a consortium that consists of Rosemont Seneca Partners and the Thornton Group. In June 2009, Biden co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners with Archer and Christopher Heinz.
The Thornton Group’s website states 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.”
While the report does highlight a partnership between Rosemont Seneca Partners and the Thornton Group, and even provides evidence that Biden has attended events with the Thornton Group in 2010, it does not provide any evidence that Biden is actually involved with Rosemont Seneca Partners itself.
Ownership documents of Rosemont Seneca Thornton are not public, so there’s no way to prove definitively that he has a stake in the company.
At the end of the section on the Baturina payments, the report said, “These transactions were identified because of Baturina’s reported criminal activity,” referring to Luzhkov’s 2010 corruption allegations regarding activities that were believed to benefit Baturina’s business. But the Senate report doesn’t provide evidence there was anything inherently corrupt about the payments.
So this second claim is currently unproven.