According to a Fox News report this week, a former business partner of Hunter Biden visited the White House at least 16 times during the time that Joe Biden was vice president.
John Robinson “Rob” Walker, a Hunter Biden friend and business partner who was part of a deal with a Chinese energy concern that the House Oversight Committee said led to millions in payments for Biden family members, appeared on Obama-era White House visitor logs, and visited the White House at least 16 times during the time that Biden was vice president.
A New Biden Problem?
However, Walker had a good reason for being at the White House so many times: He is married to Betsy Massey Walker, who was a top aide for many years to then-Second Lady and now-First Lady Jill Biden.
So there’s a very good chance that some of those White House appearances by Walker were either visits to the workplace of his wife or events held at the White House that he attended with her.
That’s a more likely scenario than, say, Walker coming to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in order to hash out nefarious China-adjacent conspiracies with the then-vice president. And Hunter Biden was never a White House employee when his father was vice president or president.
Most of the visitor log entries for Walker list tours of the White House grounds, while others were for holiday receptions and Fourth of July celebrations – the kind of event that the spouse of a White House employee would be likely to attend.
Per Fox, Walker is listed in a 2011 visit as having met with David Lane, then-President Obama’s assistant, and counselor to his chief of staff, and they also reported on an email that Hunter Biden had invited Lane to a barbecue at his home around the same time. So a smoking gun when it comes to wrongdoing by President Biden, this surely is not. (Lane later became U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture.)
As always with White House visitor log stories, there are other reasons to be skeptical here. The White House visitor logs list people who have been to the White House complex, but not necessarily that they met with the president or anyone at a high level. A visitor logs entry does not mean someone met in the Oval Office with the president.
Visitor Logs Are Vague
For instance, during the Obama-era “IRS scandal,” opponents of then-President Obama tried to make hay out of an appearance by the National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley at the White House in 2010. It turned out Kelley was there not for a presidential meeting, but rather to speak at a White House-hosted Workplace Flexibility Forum.
They also don’t always make clear if the visitor went to the White House building itself, or adjacent buildings like the Old Executive Office Building which is part of the White House complex. The logs omit people who have “permanent access passes.”
“While some of these visits may focus on policy discussions or outreach strategies, which have direct political implications, many correspond to more ceremonial functions, such as tours and social events,” David Ryan Miller wrote in a paper called “The President Will See Whom Now? Presidential Engagement with Organized Interests.”
Donald Trump got around this, during his presidency, by not releasing White House visitor logs at all. Biden reversed that policy in 2021, although he has drawn some fire for not disclosing all visitors to his home in Delaware.
There have also been instances in which it’s been reported that someone appeared on the White House visitor logs when it was in fact someone else with the same or a similar name. “John Walker” is a very common name, raising the possibility that not all of those visits were necessarily the John Walker in question.
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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.