Top legal and ethical experts weighed in on art gallerist Georges Bergès' revelation of Hunter Biden's knowledge of his art buyers, saying the American people were 'misled.'
Fox News Digital reached out to several legal and ethical experts on Bergès' revelation during his closed-door, transcribed interview with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees earlier this month.
Bergès told the committees that an agreement to shield the knowledge of Hunter Biden's buyers from him was not put in place for months after the White House's statement that a 'system' had been 'established' to do so.
Hunter Biden's gallerist said that the first son knew the identities of approximately 70% of those buyers.
'The White House effort was the ultimate example of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted,' George Washington University law professor and Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley told Fox News Digital.
'The clear message given repeatedly to Congress and the public was that an ethical plan was in place to prevent such knowledge,' he continued.
'The ethical claims of the White House proved as abstract as Hunter's art pieces,' Turley said. 'In reality, the breach had occurred long before the ethical plan was implemented.'
'The testimony that Bergès did not have interactions with the White House on the plan further undermines these claims. Indeed, Bergès admitted that he was reading these statements from the White House with no knowledge of what they were referencing. Yet, Bergès and the Bidens proceeded knowing that the public was being misled.'
Former Bush administration ethics chief Richard Painter told Fox News Digital that the White House's 'whole arrangement of keeping the buyers secret was completely the wrong way to go.'
Painter said the White House 'should have had nothing to do' with Bergès, and that the 'best approach' for Hunter Biden would have been to 'not sell the art at all during his father's presidency and certainly not sell it at those prices.'
'The worst option is what they chose, which is to keep it all, to say it's all going to be confidential, and Hunter Biden won't know and nobody will know,' Painter said. 'And this is exactly what I said happens, is that the word gets around.'
'Of course you find out who bought the art,' Painter continued. 'People hang the art on the wall.'
'They don't stick it in closet,' he added.
Attorney Sol Weisenberg said that we 'don’t know right now the full ethical implications, if any, of this latest White House falsehood regarding Hunter Biden’s special privileges and ethical/legal lapses.'
'It is simply another example of the Biden family’s leisurely approach to influence peddling,' Weisenberg said. 'As a citizen, I would rather know who is buying the paintings and how much they are paying than operating under the false illusion that Hunter and the family are being kept in the dark about the source of this latest largesse.'
Fox News Digital reached out to Bergès and the White House for comment.
Bergès' interview with the committees came as part of the House Republicans' impeachment inquiry into President Biden.
House investigators, during his interview, showed Bergès a statement made by then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki on July 9, 2021.
'After careful consideration, a system has been established that allows for Hunter Biden to work in his profession within reasonable safeguards,' she said. 'All interactions regarding the selling of art and the setting of prices will be handled by professional galleries, adhering to the highest industry standards. Any offer out of the normal court would be rejected out of hand.'
Psaki added, 'The galleries will not share information about buyers or prospective buyers, including their identities, with Hunter Biden or the administration, which provides quite a level of protection.'
When pressed further, Psaki stressed that 'it would be challenging for an anonymous person who we don’t know and Hunter Biden doesn’t know to have influence — so that’s a protection.'
However, Bergès testified that at the time of the White House’s July 2021 statement, he had an agreement with Hunter Biden which called for him, instead, 'to disclose to Hunter Biden who the purchasers of his art were.' Bergès said that contract was agreed to in December 2020.
Bergès said that it was not until September 2021 that a new agreement with Hunter Biden was created. That agreement stated that 'the gallery will not disclose the name of any buyers of artist’s artwork to artist or any agent of artist.'
Bergès stressed, though, that there was not a 'White House-involved agreement,' and that Hunter Biden did know the identities of approximately 70% of the buyers of his art. Meanwhile, Bergès testified that he had spoken to President Biden both on the phone and in person.
The art gallerist previously told Fox News Digital he 'never violated the agreement we had with Hunter Biden.'
'If he knew the identities of some of the buyers — it’s because they were his friends or by happenstance,' Bergès said. 'My obligation to Hunter is to not disclose the buyers — which I haven’t.'
Fox News Digital's Brooke Singman contributed reporting.