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Harris didn’t accuse Biden of bending to China in debate

April 29, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: When Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden were competing against each other in the 2020 presidential race, Harris told Biden in a debate, “You will do whatever the Chinese tell you! They gave your son over a billion dollars.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Transcripts of the five Democratic debates attended by both Biden and Harris show no such exchange. Harris did challenge Biden on other topics during the debates, including race.

THE FACTS: A post viewed more than 3 million times on Facebook this week falsely implied that Harris criticized Biden on China during one of the Democratic debates before the 2020 election.

“Anyone Remember Kamala telling Joe during the Debate: “You will do whatever the Chinese tell you! They gave your son over a billion dollars,” the post read.

The post included a split-screen image showing Biden and Harris during the first Democratic presidential debate in June 2019, with Harris raising her arm in Biden’s direction.

Commenters claimed they remembered the criticism, but a review of the debate transcripts reveals this exchange never happened.

Harris announced her presidential bid on January 21, 2019, and withdrew it on December 3, 2019. During that time, Harris and Biden shared the stage at five Democratic debates, in Miami, Detroit, Houston, Westerville, Ohio, and Atlanta.

The Associated Press reviewed transcripts of all five debates and found Harris did not criticize Biden using these words or any similar sentiments.

The two did spar on other topics, including at the first debate, pictured in the viral post, when Harris criticized Biden for his one-time opposition to mandatory busing of students to desegregated schools.

The AP has previously evaluated claims that China gave the president’s son, Hunter Biden, $1.5 billion, and found that there’s no evidence he pocketed this sum from China. More generally, accusations of criminal wrongdoing by father or son are unsubstantiated.

In 2014, an investment fund started by Hunter Biden and other investors joined with foreign and Chinese private equity firms in an effort to raise $1.5 billion to invest outside China. It was not a lone effort by Hunter Biden to get his hands on that much money.

In any event, the effort fell far short, his lawyer, George Mesires, wrote in an internet post in 2019. Mesires said the fund, an investment management company known as BHR, raised only about $4.2 million, not the $1.5 billion it aimed for. Hunter Biden’s 10% share was worth about $420,000, but he did not cash it in, Mesires said. And he said Hunter Biden was an unpaid director at the time.

“He has not received any return on his investment,” Mesires said. Biden stepped down from the board in October 2019 as part of a pledge not to work on behalf of any foreign-owned companies should his father win the presidency.

The Justice Department is investigating the finances of Hunter Biden, including scrutinizing some of his Chinese business dealings and other transactions, according to AP reporting.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536