AP Interview: Ex-Polish president defends Biden and Burisma

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Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former Polish president and currently a board member for Ukrainian gas company Burisma, speaks to The Associated Press in his office in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019. Kwasniewski says that when Hunter Biden was tapped in 2014 to join its advisory board, he told then-Vice President Joe Biden's son that the company was working to overcome a difficult past and was determined to be well-managed and transparent. Kwasniewski also said he also told the younger Biden that if Burisma succeeded in tapping into Ukraine's gas deposits, it would help Ukraine gain energy independence from Russia, a key part of its broader struggle to exist as an sovereign nation.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW – Aleksander Kwasniewski, a former Polish president who is on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, said Thursday that Hunter Biden was indeed chosen to join its advisory board because of his name. He said that is simply how the world of business works.

But Kwasniewski (kvash-NYEF-skee) insisted in an interview with The Associated Press that Biden was an active board member who helped the company, and that he never used his relationship with his father, Joe Biden, to further the company’s interests.

“I understand that if someone asks me to be part of some project it’s not only because I’m so good, it’s also because I am Kwasniewski and I am a former president of Poland,” he said. “And this is all inter-connected. No-names are a nobody. Being Biden is not bad. It’s a good name.”

Kwasniewski also said Burisma members never tried to use Hunter Biden to curry favor with the administration of Barack Obama when Joe Biden was vice president.

“He was a normal member of this group,” he said. “We didn’t ask him — and he never said anything — about his father.”

Only at dinners was Biden sometimes asked how his father was doing and on one occasion Biden spoke about the death of his brother, Beau, Kwasniewski said.

He said Hunter Biden carried out research and brought a unique American perspective to the company, including in the areas of corporate governance, capital markets and gas drilling equipment, where Americans are world leaders.

“He collected information,” Kwasniewski said. “He was useful for us because he knew something that we didn’t know.”