On Tuesday, January 23, 2024, NewsMax reported that testimony from Kevin Morris, an entertainment attorney and longtime friend of Hunter Biden, raised fresh ethical and legal questions about Morris’s financial support of the president’s son.
According to the report, Morris had admitted to loaning Hunter Biden at least $5 million over the years to cover various expenses such as back taxes, rent, and legal costs from a paternity lawsuit. However, as Hunter Biden’s lawyer, California bar rules prohibit attorneys from lending or giving money to clients, according to Paul Kamenar of the National Legal and Policy Center. Kamenar said this arrangement appears to be a “clear violation” of ethical standards.
NewsMax political commentator Tom Borelli was also quoted saying such large loans from Morris to Hunter Biden were unusual and that “nobody” offers that kind of extensive financial help without expecting something in return. Borelli alleged Morris was essentially acting as a “sugar daddy” aiming to buy influence through Hunter Biden.
Some experts noted the loans could have tax implications depending on how they were reported. If considered a gift by the IRS rather than a loan, Hunter Biden may owe gift taxes. As a loan, IRS rules require the income to be taxed, though it’s unclear who paid those taxes. There was also speculation the money could be repaid to Hunter Biden for allowing Morris to film him for a potential documentary. In that case, the sums would need to be claimed as income by Hunter and taxed.
The NewsMax article detailed how Morris’s deposition transcript was released after his attorney criticized House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer for allegedly misrepresenting Morris’s testimony. In his version of events, Comer had implied Morris received political favors from the White House in exchange for helping Hunter Biden. However, Morris denied this and said his three visits to the White House since Joe Biden took office were for a tour, a wedding, and last year’s Fourth of July picnic.