This seems off-putting at first, but stick with this to the end. Although the tone in this short clip from NBC’s Today sounds more like a scolding fact-check, it also acknowledges that Hunter Biden’s decision to piggyback on his dad’s state visit to China to work on his own business deal seems a little odd in retrospect. Reporter Josh Lederman cuts back across the grain to note that Hunter’s presence on the VP’s Air Force Two flight didn’t seem unusual, but that reporters didn’t know he was negotiating with bankers in China for his own profit either:

While Donald Trump’s specific claims about the amounts and dates appear to be false, there’s no avoiding the conclusion that Hunter Biden used Joe Biden’s official trip to China for his personal enrichment. Worse yet, as Lederman reports separately today, it also leaves the distinct impression that Joe Biden was a participant in his son’s efforts to cash in on his father’s office, even if no smoking gun has yet emerged:

What wasn’t known then was that as he accompanied his father to China, Hunter Biden was forming a Chinese private equity fund that associates said at the time was planning to raise big money, including from China. Hunter Biden has acknowledged meeting with Jonathan Li, a Chinese banker and his partner in the fund during the trip, although his spokesman says it was a social visit.

The Chinese business license that brought the new fund into existence was issued by Shanghai authorities 10 days after the trip, with Hunter Biden a member of the board. …

In August, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, raised concerns about Hunter Biden’s meeting with Li in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that warned of Hunter Biden’s “history of investing in and collaborating with Chinese companies.” Grassley’s letter also cited media reports saying Hunter Biden had arranged for Li, his business partner, to shake hands with the vice president while in Beijing.

Also involved in the fund is Devon Archer, a past adviser to former Secretary of State John Kerry, who also partnered with Hunter Biden on his work in Ukraine and a U.S. investment firm.

Lederman’s account also rejects Trump’s specific allegations about Hunter Biden, but takes a more cautious approach to the Biden story otherwise. Had the younger Biden gone on his own to China and conducted his business separately, it might not have raised any questions. Using Air Force Two to accompany his father at the same time Hunter was pitching Chinese investors — who in China have to have connections to the regime to survive — looks bad. And note Lederman’s mention of Ukraine and the Kerrys as well, an aspect of this case that the New York Times’ Ken Vogel first broached in May.

The Hunter Biden angle may not be enough to get Trump off the hook for twisting arms in Ukraine. But the arm-twisting in Ukraine certainly won’t be enough to keep people from asking what Hunter Biden’s true business model was during his father’s vice-presidency either, especially not with the $50K/month gig on a corrupt Ukrainian corporate board in an area where Hunter had no expertise whatsoever, and where his father seemed awfully eager to intervene.

Update: Be sure to read Jim Geraghty’s follow-up to his massive essay on Hunter Biden from Monday. He parries the pushback on scrutiny of the Bidens as concisely as I’ve seen it done:

“Hunter Biden isn’t running for president, Joe Biden is!” Er, yes, and the whole point is that if Hunter Biden wasn’t the son of Joe Biden, then he would not have been hired at such a lucrative rate by MBNA, various universities and hospitals, Chinese institutional investors, Chinese private-equity fund Bohai Capital, Chinese energy tycoon Ye Jianming, Burisma Holdings, and other institutions. The issue is not merely that Hunter worked for shady people and institutions, it’s that he worked for shady people and institutions who wanted to influence or profit from changes to U.S. policy.

“Hunter Biden joining Burisma’s board was a bad decision, but it wasn’t illegal.” No, but as the timeline illustrates, Hunter Biden’s career was built on one situation after another that was technically legal but still looked bad. Sure, he never officially lobbied his father, but his partners did, and he lobbied all his dad’s colleagues. Sure, Joe Biden was unlikely to ever antagonize MBNA, one of the biggest employers in his state, but hiring Hunter ensured another solid connection. (In 1998, an MBNA executive named John Cochran bought Joe Biden’s house for full price, with some speculating that he overpaid, a sort of backdoor payment to the then-senator. Our old friend Byron York had that story.) If you’re a Chinese institutional investor, you’ve got every investment fund in the United States begging for a meeting. Are we supposed to believe that it was coincidental that they chose to meet with the one that employed the vice president’s son? When the chairman of Burisma declared while announcing Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board, “this is totally based on merit,” who was he trying to convince?

You’ll notice that when Joe Biden is discussing allegations of corruption about someone else, his general attitude is that the legal technicalities matter little. “Come on, man! Give me a break! Malarkey!” When the questions are about Hunter Biden, his campaign hides behind the generic statement, “The Obama-Biden administration created and upheld the strongest ethics policy of any presidency in American history.” Surely, there couldn’t be a flaw, loophole, or oversight in the Obama administration ethics policy, right?

Read it all, and then bookmark it, because it makes for a handy reference.