Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden, has suggested the Democratic presidential nominee was profiting from his son's dealings in a Chinese financial firm.
US President Donald Trump has made accusations that his Democratic rival Joe Biden profited from corrupt business deals involving his son, even inviting one of the accusers, Hunter's former business associate, as debate guest.
Before Thursday night's debate, Trump's campaign introduced Tony Bobulinski, who had agreed to cooperate in a Senate investigation of the Bidens. While Bobulinski is not well-known to a majority of the public, he is Trump's recent card in play in the campaign.
Bobulinski hours earlier held a press conference where he accused Biden of "involvement" in the financial venture with his son and a Chinese company.
Bobulinski also said he had evidence on his three personal cell phones that he would be turning over to the FBI on Friday.
"What he said was damning," Trump mentioned at the final debate, presumably referring to Bobulinski.
But Biden parried the attacks saying "nothing was unethical," and the issue which had the potential to overshadow their debate did not reach a resolution.
'The laptop from hell'
The president, trailing in the polls and seeking a jolt that could reverse his fortunes less than two weeks from Election Day, relished the opportunity to discuss a laptop that apparently once belonged to Hunter Biden.
Trump said it contained "horrible emails" that showed the extent of the Biden family's formation of a venture with a Chinese company.
"If this is true, he's a corrupt politician, so don't give me the stuff about how you're this innocent baby," Trump said. "Take a look at the laptop from hell."
The computer has been the subject of recent stories in the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post. It claimed it had obtained documents from the laptop including emails that showed Hunter Biden introduced his father to an adviser to Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company where Hunter served on the board, in 2015.
Trump also cited unconfirmed emails that addressed the Biden family's business dealings with a Chinese firm, CEFC China Energy Co, which was to invest in the United States and elsewhere.
The Wall Street Journal reported Bobulinski had handed over emails and texts to the publication from his time as the CEO of CEFC.
"Your son said, 'We have to give 10 percent to the big man.' Joe, what's that all about?" Trump said, referring to a quote from a document about firm equity in which the "big man" according to Bobulinski is Biden. "It's terrible."
The conversations cited in the Journal mostly focus on Hunter and his role in the firm; Biden is not referred to.
Biden responds to allegations
Biden swatted away the accusations, saying he had "not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life."
"My son has not made money in terms of this thing about ... China," Biden added, saying it was actually Trump who has profited from business in China, as he pointed to a once-secret Trump bank account there.
He declared the discussion about family entanglements “malarkey” and accused Trump of not wanting to talk about the substantive issues.
And just as Thursday's debate was concluding, the Journal — whose opinion writers this week have fuelled the narrative that Hunter Biden sought to use his father's influence for financial gain — poured cold water on suggestions that Joe Biden was involved.
"Corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden," the paper reported.