(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans on Thursday, in their first impeachment inquiry hearing, are set to reexamine information they say they’ve gathered so far in their investigations into President Joe Biden and his family’s business dealings.
“House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said when ordering the inquiry earlier this month. “These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption.”
Among their claims, which have yet to be supported by direct evidence, is that President Biden was involved in or personally profited from his family’s foreign business dealings, or that he improperly influenced policy based on them during his time as vice president.
Here’s a closer look at some of the specific allegations levied against President Biden that are likely to be discussed during Thursday’s hearing, and what Biden himself has said about his son’s business dealings and the impeachment inquiry:
Allegation: Biden lied about his family’s business dealings
Speaker McCarthy and other top Republicans have claimed Biden lied to the public about his knowledge of his family’s business deals.
They highlight specific statements from Biden that he “never discussed” with his son or brother anything involving their businesses, and that his son never made money in China.
Biden’s statement in regard to China is not true. Hunter Biden has testified in open court that he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Chinese business interests.
Whether he “never discussed” business with his son is less clear. Hunter Biden’s former business partner Devon Archer testified that Joe Biden attended at least two dinners with Hunter Biden’s foreign business associates, and frequently spoke with his son over the phone while his son was in the presence of foreign business associates.
But Archer also testified that business never came up during those interactions. Those discussions were often about the weather and other benign subjects, he said. Archer, notably, testified that he never witnessed Joe Biden engage in any wrongdoing.
Hunter Biden also acknowledged at least one instance in which Joe Biden addressed his appointment to the board of directors of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma: “Dad said, ‘I hope you know what you are doing,’ and I said, ‘I do,'” Hunter Biden told the New Yorker.
Allegation: Biden joined phone calls, meetings about Hunter’s business
“Eyewitnesses have testified that the president joined on multiple phone calls and had multiple interactions – dinners, resulted in cars and millions of dollars into his son’s and his son’s business partners,” McCarthy said when launching the impeachment inquiry.
Such statements appear largely based on Archer’s testimony.
Archer testified that as many as 20 times, he saw Hunter put his father on speakerphone when Hunter was with business associates. But he said those conversations often stemmed from Hunter speaking to his father “every day” and that he never witnessed Hunter talking with his dad about the substance of Hunter’s business.
Archer also testified about two different dinners that Joe Biden attended, but never indicated that Hunter’s business was discussed.
The first was “a birthday dinner” with Hunter, Joe Biden and some foreign businesspeople: “I don’t remember the conversation. I just remember that [Joe Biden] came to dinner, and we ate and kind of talked about the world, I guess, and the weather, and then everybody left,” Archer said.
The second dinner involved Joe Biden, Hunter, one of Hunter’s Burisma colleagues, a Greek orthodox priest, and someone from the World Food Programme: “I think we were supposed to talk about the World Food Programme. So, there was some talk about that,” Archer testified.
As for a Porsche Archer said Hunter Biden received, it was bought for him by “a prominent businessman in Kazakhstan,” according to Archer. Archer testified that he didn’t know why the businessman bought the car for Hunter Biden.
Many of these findings are not new. A 2020 Senate report detailed some of these business endeavors and payments. The report, penned by Biden critics, GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, found that Hunter Biden’s overseas business ventures were “awkward” and at times “problematic” for U.S. officials but provided no evidence and found no instance of government policy being altered as a result.
Allegation: FBI information alleged million-dollar bribe to Bidens
“A highly credible FBI source alleges that Joe Biden received $5 million in exchange for pressuring for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating the Ukrainian natural gas firm that Hunter Biden was on the board of, Burisma,” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said earlier this month.
Grassley in July released a confidential FBI informant’s unverified claim that, years ago, the Biden family “pushed” a Ukrainian oligarch to pay them $10 million. The FD-1023 form cites an unnamed source who recounts a series of interactions in 2015 and 2016 with Mykola Zlochevsky, the chief executive of Burisma. The source recalled Zlochevsky claiming that he was “forced” to pay Joe and Hunter Biden $5 million each, apparently in exchange for firing a Ukrainian prosecutor named Viktor Shokin who was purportedly investigating Burisma at the time.
There is no evidence aside from the unverified FD-1023 that Joe Biden accepted a bribe to influence U.S. policy in Ukraine. Democrats have accused accusing Grassley of selectively highlighting uncorroborated information to hurt a political opponent.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, has said that in 2020, the Trump-appointed Justice Department interviewed the source, investigated the source’s claims and then closed the investigation.
Allegation: Joe Biden used pseudonyms on emails
“Joe Biden used at least three pseudonyms on over 5,000 emails. We know one of these, his son was copied on, in a pseudonym, that pertained to Ukraine,” Comer said earlier this month.
It is common for high-profile government officials, including presidents, to use pseudonyms for their email. It’s been publicly reported that Barack Obama did it. And that Bill Barr did it.
The email Hunter Biden was copied on included Joe Biden’s official schedule. The email included the normal list of the vice president’s daily workload, but also included a reference to an overnight stay at the “Lake House.” A source close to the Biden family said Biden copied his son because it was the weekend of the anniversary of Beau Biden’s death, and the vice president wanted Hunter Biden to be there with the family.
Allegation: Biden as vice president coordinated Hunter’s role in Burisma
“Biden used his official office to coordinate with Hunter Biden’s business partners about Hunter’s role in Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company,” McCarthy said when ordering the inquiry.
This allegation refers to a December 2015 email exchange between Hunter Biden’s office and the White House. In the exchange, according to Comer, Hunter Biden’s business partner Eric Schwerin and the vice president’s then-communications staffer Kate Bedingfield collaborated on a response to questions from the media about Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of Burisma.
Bedingfield wrote, “VP signed off on this” – and presented Schwerin with a statement she “will give to both reporters in my name shortly.” The statement said that Hunter Biden “is a private citizen,” and that Joe Biden “does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company.”
In a tweet on Sept. 6, White House spokesperson Ian Sams wrote: “More lies by @JamesComer. As Comer tells it, then-VP Biden ‘colluded’ with this business by … saying he doesn’t endorse it and wasn’t involved with it? Total nonsense.”
Allegation: DOJ is letting Bidens off the hook
“The president’s family has been offered special treatment by Biden’s own administration. Treatment that they would not have otherwise received if they were not related to the president,” McCarthy has claimed.
This allegation rests heavily on the testimony of two IRS whistleblowers who accused senior Justice Department officials of slow-walking their investigation, stymying investigators’ efforts to pursue leads, and failing to prosecute Hunter Biden to the fullest extent of the law.
But Attorney General Merrick Garland and special counsel David Weiss have both denied the allegations made by those whistleblowers. Other witnesses have shared testimony with Congress that undercuts some of the IRS agents’ core claims.
Allegation: Biden family received $20 million through 20 shell companies
“Detailed banking records show that the Biden family and their business associates received $20 million in payments from foreign actors in places like Russia, China, Ukraine, and Romania, including payments during Joe Biden’s time as vice president,” Rep. Elise Stefanik said earlier this month.
Hunter Biden has acknowledged receiving millions of dollars from overseas business endeavors, often into companies with multiple partners. The structure of those companies and the beneficiaries are opaque — perhaps deliberately. But it is not uncommon for business entities to use shell companies for strategic and tax-related reasons — which is legal. And none of the money received by Hunter Biden has been linked to Joe Biden himself.
Allegation: Banks flagged 150+ suspicious activities from Bidens
“The Treasury Department alone has more than 150 transactions involving the Biden family and other business associates that were flagged as suspicious activity by U.S. banks,” McCarthy has said.
Suspicious Activities Reports, or SARs, are reports filed by financial institutions to flag questionable banking transactions to the Treasury Department, but do not amount to allegations of crimes. These are essentially notices of unusual activity that investigators can use as tips or leads — not actual allegations of wrongdoing or criminal activity, and banks are required to file them to help the U.S. government monitor possible money laundering activities.
These are essentially notices of unusual activity that investigators can use as tips or leads — not actual allegations of wrongdoing or criminal activity.
What Biden has said
When Republican scrutiny into Hunter Biden grew during the 2020 campaign, Biden began to be asked about his son’s actions.
“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” Biden said during a stop in Iowa in July 2019.
Later, during a Democratic debate in October 2019, Biden said his son had done nothing wrong.
“Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” he said on stage. “I carried out the policy of the United States government in rooting out corruption in Ukraine. And that’s what we should be focusing on. And what I wanted to make a point about — and my son’s statement speaks for itself. He spoke about it today. My son’s statement speaks for itself.”
After the federal investigation into Hunter Biden became public last December, President Biden said he is “proud” of his son and “confident” he did nothing wrong.
On the impeachment inquiry, Biden has brushed it off as a distraction.
“Now, best I can tell they want to impeach me because they want shutdown the government,” he told a group of donors behind closed doors the day after the inquiry was launched. “Everybody always asked about impeachment. I get up every day not focused on impeachment, I’ve got job to do. I’ve got to deal with issues that affect the American people every single solitary day.”
“Lots of luck,” he later said when asked about the inquiry.
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