President Biden spoke to his son Hunter during meetings with foreign business associates about 20 times over the course of a decade, mostly over speakerphone and including while serving as vice president, a former business partner of Hunter Biden testified Monday to Congress.
Devon Archer testified that some meetings included prospective business clients and that Biden was put on the phone to bolster “the brand” of having a powerful father, according to lawmakers who were present for the nearly five hours of closed-door testimony before the House Oversight Committee.
Republicans and Democrats offered dueling takes on the significance of Archer’s testimony, with Republicans saying it provided confirmation that Biden previously lied about his knowledge of his son’s business dealings and Democrats saying the testimony yielded no evidence of wrongdoing and that Archer said the conversations never focused on Hunter Biden’s business. The committee has yet to release a transcript.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said that Archer’s testimony encouraged Republicans to continue their pursuit of whether “foreign actors targeted the Bidens” and whether Biden is “compromised and corrupt.”
“Why did Joe Biden lie to the American people about his family’s business dealings and his involvement?” Comer said in a statement. “It begs the question [of] what else he is hiding from the American people.”
In 2019, Biden said he had “never spoken to” his son about his business dealings. Comer’s panel has been probing whether Biden was in fact involved, particularly with entities in Ukraine and China. Last week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested the GOP could eventually launch an impeachment inquiry, which would give the lawmakers additional investigative powers.
So far, however, Republicans have offered no firm evidence of wrongdoing by Biden — and Democrats said Archer’s testimony underscored that Republicans are on what the White House has characterized as a “wild goose chase.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Archer testified that Biden’s roughly 20 calls were not about Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
“Those calls were all about mundane subjects like the weather, geography, and other niceties and pleasantries,” Raskin said in a statement in which he said Republicans “yet again failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden.”
Raskin said it was important to understand that Biden was talking to his son Hunter daily during some of this period following the 2015 death of the president’s older son Beau.
Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), another member of the panel, also said that Archer testified that no business was discussed while Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone in front of business associates. Goldman said that Archer testified that Hunter Biden was only providing “the illusion of access” to his father.
Goldman told reporters that it is “kind of a preposterous premise to think that a father should not say hello to the people that a son is at dinner with and that is literally all the evidence is.” Goldman added that Archer testified that in some cases it wasn’t clear that Biden knew those with whom his son was dining.
“We need to move on, and this investigation is a complete waste of time,” Goldman added.
The White House also said Republicans had not produced anything compelling.
“House Republicans keep promising bombshell evidence to support their ridiculous attacks against the President, but time after time, they keep failing to produce any,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement. “In fact, even their own witnesses appear to be debunking their allegations.”
According to Raskin, Archer also testified Monday that he could not corroborate unverified allegations by an FBI informant that President Biden was involved in an illegal foreign bribery scheme. That testimony, Raskin said, served to debunk the allegation being peddled by Republicans.
Matthew L. Schwartz, Archer’s lawyer, acknowledged in a statement that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were pointing to different aspects of his client’s testimony.
“We are aware that all sides are claiming victory following Mr. Archer’s voluntary interview,” Schwartz said. “Mr. Archer shared the truth with the Committee, and we will leave [it] to them and others to decide what to do with it.”
In 2018, a jury convicted Archer of two felonies for his role in a conspiracy to defraud a Native American tribe. He is facing a one-year prison sentence following a failed appeal.
According to Comer, Archer testified that Hunter Biden was added to the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma because of “the brand” of his powerful father.
Archer testified that Burisma would have gone out of business without that branding, Comer said.
Goldman offered a somewhat different take on that testimony, saying Archer, through his use of the phrase “the brand,” was referring to “Hunter’s own experience as a lobbyist and a lawyer in Washington, D.C., combined with the Biden name, which is of course no different than the Trump name or the Clinton name or any other big political family name.”
Republicans who have been advocating for the impeachment of President Biden claimed the overall testimony added to their case.
“When Congress moved toward impeachment with Richard Nixon, it was because they had proof that Richard Nixon lied,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a member of the committee, told reporters Monday. “When Congress moved toward impeachment with Bill Clinton, it was because they had proof that Bill Clinton had lied about sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. Today, with Devon Archer’s testimony, we have proof that Joe Biden has lied.”