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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

House Republican report finds no evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) takes notes during a news conference on the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into President Joe Biden’s family financial ties with foreign entities on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 10, 2023.

By Luke Broadwater

After four months of investigation, House Republicans who promised to use their new majority to unearth evidence of wrongdoing by President Joe Biden acknowledged earlier this week that they had yet to uncover incriminating material about him, despite their frequent insinuations that he and his family have been involved in criminal conduct and corruption.

At a much-publicized news conference on Capitol Hill to show the preliminary findings of their premier investigation into Biden and his family, leading Republicans released financial documents detailing how some of the president’s relatives were paid more than $10 million from foreign sources between 2015 and 2017.

Republicans described the transactions as proof of “influence peddling” by Biden’s family, including his son Hunter Biden, and referenced some previously known, if unflattering, details of the younger Biden’s business dealings. Those included an episode in which he accepted a 2.8-carat diamond from a Chinese businessperson. GOP lawmakers also produced material suggesting that the president and his allies had at times made misleading statements in their efforts to push back aggressively against accusations of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden.

But Wednesday, the Republicans conceded that they had yet to find evidence of a specific corrupt action the president took in office in connection with any of the business deals his son entered into. Instead, their presentation underscored how little headway top GOP lawmakers have made in finding clear evidence of questionable transactions they can tie to the president, their chief political rival.

It has not stopped them from accusing the president of serious misconduct.

“I want to be clear: This committee is investigating President Biden and his family’s shady business dealings to capitalize on Joe Biden’s public office that risks our country’s national security,” said Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the chair of the Oversight Committee. He emphasized that the president — not just his son — would be the target of the investigation, which Comer said would now “enter a new phase,” in which he would subpoena specific financial information based on material learned through bank records.

Federal prosecutors have examined Hunter Biden’s international business activities as part of a criminal investigation. But the only charges they are considering, according to people familiar with the case, are unrelated to his work abroad. They include tax charges related to his failure to file his tax returns over several years, and a charge of lying about his drug use on a federal form he filled out to purchase a handgun.

To date, Comer’s committee has issued four bank subpoenas, obtained thousands of financial records and spoken with several people he describes as whistleblowers. Comer has also hired James Mandolfo, a former federal prosecutor who has experience investigating foreign corruption, to oversee the inquiry.

Here’s what we know so far.

Businesses connected to Hunter Biden received more than $10 million from foreign companies, some with criminal ties.

The House Oversight Committee report focused on payments made to companies connected to Hunter Biden from businesses and individuals in Romania and China. Bank records obtained by the committee show the receipt of money from a foreign company connected to Gabriel Popoviciu, who was the subject of a criminal investigation and prosecution for corruption in Romania.

In 2015, Popoviciu retained Hunter Biden, who is a lawyer, while his father was vice president, to help try to fend off charges. That effort was unsuccessful, and in 2016, Popoviciu was convicted on charges related to a land deal in northern Bucharest, the Romanian capital.

Comer has also focused on John Walker, an associate of Hunter Biden who was involved in a joint venture with executives of CEFC China Energy, a now-bankrupt Chinese conglomerate.

A Shanghai-based company, State Energy HK Ltd., that was affiliated with CEFC China Energy sent millions to Robinson Walker LLC, a company associated with Walker, who then made payments to Hunter Biden and other Biden family members.

Hunter Biden had cultivated a business relationship with Ye Jianming, the founder of CEFC, who has been investigated by Chinese authorities on suspicion of economic crimes. In 2017, Ye gave Hunter Biden a 2.8-carat diamond as a thank-you for a meeting.

“What would they be bribing me for? My dad wasn’t in office,” Hunter Biden told The New Yorker in 2019, adding that he gave the diamond to his associates. “I knew it wasn’t a good idea to take it. I just felt like it was weird.”

CEFC had hoped to invest in a liquefied natural gas venture in Louisiana, but that deal ultimately flopped.

Representatives of Hunter Biden characterize his business offerings at the time as providing legal and consulting services.

The president has falsely denied his son had ties to Chinese businesses.

None of the payments detailed in the report went to the president himself, nor has Comer’s investigation produced any evidence that Biden ever took a corrupt action in connection with his son’s business dealings.

But Biden has made several false or misleading statements about the matter.

During the 2020 presidential debate, Biden claimed that no one in his family had received money from China.

“My son has not made money in terms of this thing about — what are you talking about, China,” Biden said, turning the charge on his opponent, former President Donald Trump. “The only guy who made money from China is this guy. He’s the only one. Nobody else has made money from China.”

This year, Biden also claimed that it was “not true” that family members received more than $1 million from a Chinese firm.

Aides to Biden said he was speaking colloquially and was pushing back generally on claims that his administration had been corrupted by Chinese money.

Presidents’ families have long made money off the family name.

During his news conference, Comer acknowledged that Hunter Biden would have been far from the first relative of a president or vice president to try to make money off the family name.

He invoked Billy Carter, the brother of former President Jimmy Carter, who visited Libya and received a $220,000 loan; and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law whose firm has received hundreds of millions from Persian Gulf nations.

“This has been a pattern for a long time,” Comer said. “Republicans and Democrats have both complained about presidents’ families receiving money.”

However, Comer has conceded that he has no interest in investigating Kushner’s conduct.

Officials allied with the president played a role in wrongly discrediting Hunter Biden’s laptop.

The report from Comer came as a second Republican-led House committee is investigating a related issue. The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday released a report about a letter from 51 former intelligence and security officials in 2020 that questioned materials — substantial portions of which were later verified as authentic — from a laptop Hunter Biden abandoned at a Delaware repair shop and suggested they might be part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

The Republicans argue that the letter influenced the public to discount the materials on the laptop, which contained evidence of Hunter Biden’s drug use and sex life, which they believed would harm his father’s electoral chances against Trump.

The Judiciary Committee report detailed the role played by Antony Blinken, now the secretary of state and then a Biden campaign official, in spearheading the letter, and said a CIA employee had been involved in soliciting at least one signature for it.

The intelligence officials maintain their letter stated they had no evidence of a Russian disinformation campaign and that they were merely stating an opinion.

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