New claims aired by GOP of Biden family influence-peddling, but questions remain
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 16: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the U.S. response to the high-altitude Chinese balloon and three other objects that were recently shot down by the U.S. military over American airspace, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House complex February 16, 2023 in Washington, DC. The balloon incident prompted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel a planned visit to Beijing, China. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
U.S. House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer and fellow House Republicans on Wednesday used newly unearthed bank records to claim that President Joe Biden’s family members sought to improperly benefit from his vice presidency — though the preliminary findings leave several major questions unanswered.
No direct ties to Biden while he served as vice president under President Barack Obama were found by Comer and the others, though Comer said he would continue to investigate.
Bank records reviewed by the committee since Comer, of Kentucky, gained subpoena power showed Biden family members, including son Hunter Biden, received payments from foreign nationals, including a Chinese energy company, while Biden was vice president, Comer and other Republicans said Wednesday in a news conference that was heavy on implication but light on hard evidence.
The records supported allegations of an influence-peddling scheme involving Biden’s son Hunter and other family members, Comer said.
White House spokesperson Ian Sams dismissed the allegations as “baseless claims, personal attacks, and innuendo” that lacked evidence.
“Comer keeps insisting he will provide evidence — but it hasn’t stopped him from a cascading barrage of innuendo and insinuations in the meantime,” Sams wrote in a memo released before the news conference.
Comer, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, and House Oversight committee members Andy Biggs of Arizona, Byron Donalds of Florida, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, spoke Wednesday.
Payments to Biden family members
The committee members alleged that Biden family members, not including Joe Biden, received millions from foreign nationals, who funneled payments through other entities. Some of the payments coincided with Joe Biden’s time as vice president that ended in January 2017.
From November 2015 to June 2017, the company of a Romanian politician facing corruption charges made several payments totaling about $3 million to Robinson Walker, LLC, a company controlled by Hunter Biden associate Rob Walker.
Walker transferred about $1 million, sometimes funneled through his personal account, to Biden family accounts, according to a memo the committee released Wednesday.
The multiple transfers implied there was something to hide, the House Republicans said Wednesday, though they couldn’t specify what.
“What we’re witnessing here with the Biden family, frankly, is just a web of concealment, of deception, a lot of people would say corruption,” Donalds said. “You have this many companies, this velocity of transactions, size of transactions. Like my colleagues have said, this is not how normal businesses operate.”
The GOP members claimed the Bidens sought to profit from “influence peddling,” but it’s unclear what that influence accomplished. The House members made only tenuous or vague allegations about what, exactly, the payers would have received from their payments to Biden family members.
But they still claimed that the payments must have bought something.
“We believe that there was a return on the investment,” Comer said.
Mace highlighted a section in the memo detailing a favor Yuk Jeremic, a former Serbian politician and United Nations official, received from Hunter Biden, the president’s son. The memo released Wednesday called Jeremic “an associate of Hunter Biden” and said he sought then-Vice President Biden’s help in an election for U.N. secretary general.
The committee obtained a June 2016 email from Jeremic asking Hunter Biden for a meeting with then-Vice President Biden’s national security advisor, Colin Kahl. Two weeks later, Jeremic sent another email that indicated he’d met with Kahl, but that the vice president’s office was not influential in the U.N. election, according to the memo.
In the year before that meeting, Chinese company State Energy HK, made three payments totaling $3 million to a think tank associated with Jeremic, the memo reports, citing bank records.
The following year — after Joe Biden had left office — State Energy paid $3 million to Robinson Walker, LLC, which then sent about $1 million to Biden family members, according to the memo. Joe Biden has said his family did not receive payments from Chinese entities, Comer said.
Mace said the payments showed that international politicians sought out Hunter Biden solely for his family connection.
But neither Mace nor the memo explained what resulted from the payments from State Energy or how the Jeremic-Kahl meeting was in any way related.
No ties to the president
The Republicans similarly showed no direct connection to President Joe Biden but claimed one regardless.
“We believe that the president has been involved in this from the very beginning, obviously,” Comer said. “We’re going to continue to look.”
The committee has reviewed records from four banks, Comer said, but members believe there are 12 relevant banks.
Comer was asked about a related request from the committee to the FBI for a document supposedly showing the agency had investigated a criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national.
An FBI whistleblower told Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican who is a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the agency had a document showing the existence of such an investigation.
After Grassley publicly aired the whistleblower’s allegation last week, he told Greta van Susteren, an anchor on the conservative news and opinion channel Newsmax, that he was unsure if the whistleblower’s report was accurate.
“I wish I could say that I knew it was true or untrue,” he said.
Comer subpoenaed the FBI for the document with a noon Wednesday deadline, but had not received it, he said Wednesday morning.
“If the FBI for some reason does not comply with our subpoena, then Sen. Grassley and I will discuss the next step,” he said.
Spokespeople for Comer did not immediately return a message asking how the chairman would proceed.
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