Hunter Biden aims for clear rebuke of House GOP impeachment inquiry

Hunter Biden used his private Wednesday testimony before House investigators to deliver a blistering rebuke of Republicans’ investigation into his father, President Joe Biden.

The president’s son is meeting with members and aides on the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees as part of Republicans sweeping impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden, which has largely focused on the business deals of his family.

In his opening statement, Hunter Biden tried to directly puncture the central premise of the House GOP’s months-long probe. He said that his focus during what is expected to be an hours-long interview will be driving home “one uncontestable fact that should end the false premise of this inquiry: I did not involve my father in my business.”

“For more than a year, your Committees have hunted me in your partisan political pursuit of my dad. You have trafficked in innuendo, distortion, and sensationalism — all the while ignoring the clear and convincing evidence staring you in the face. You do not have evidence to support the baseless and MAGA-motivated conspiracies about my father because there isn’t any,” Hunter Biden said in his opening statement, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO.

Republicans view Hunter Biden as a key witness in their investigation. His appearance behind closed doors is the product of months of public sparring, including a threat by House Republicans to hold him in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for his testimony.

Even so, the interview may not provide House Republicans the boost they need as they struggle to get support within their own ranks for their effort to impeach President Joe Biden. Despite pressure from the right flank and the party’s base. Republicans estimate that dozens of their colleagues are so far unconvinced that investigators have shown evidence of a crime — a bar they need to meet in order to support impeachment.

“We have a lot of questions for Hunter Biden specifically revolving around the 100-plus suspicious activity reports he got, specifically around what some of his associates have testified that Joe Biden communicated frequently with all of these shady characters,” Comer told reporters on Wednesday.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), a member of the Oversight Committee, told reporters after a first round of closed-door questions that Hunter Biden’s testimony contradicted other witnesses that investigators have spoken with. Mace declined to say to specify what conflicts she meant.

“Hunter Biden is being defiant and also dishonest,” Mace said. She added that Hunter Biden had not invoked his right to not self-incriminate, known as pleading the Fifth, despite facing federal charges.

The GOP investigation took another blow this month when the Justice Department indicted an FBI informant who became a focus of the investigation last year due to his allegations that Joe Biden had taken bribes.

According to a 2020 FBI document, Alexander Smirnov, the informant, recounted what he characterized as a conversation with Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of the Ukraine energy company Burisma, whom he alleged claimed to have paid Hunter Biden and Joe Biden a bribe — an allegation that was fabricated, per a recent DOJ court filing.

Smirnov has claimed that some of his information about Hunter Biden has links to Russian intelligence — a detail that some congressional Democrats are using to paint the entire Republican investigation into the Bidens as a Russian disinformation scheme.

“If this impeachment inquiry continues, then Chairman Comer and Chairman Jordan are working with Russia to interfere in the November 2024 election on behalf of Vladimir Putin for the benefit of Donald Trump,” said Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), who was a staffer during Trump’s first impeachment.

Republicans have distanced themselves from Smirnov’s allegations, arguing they make up a small part of the probe.

Instead, Republican investigators have compiled thousands of pages of bank and financial records and hundreds of hours of interviews with witnesses as they’ve hunted for evidence that would link actions Joe Biden took as president or vice president to his family’s business deals. That investigation includes an interview last week with James Biden, Joe Biden’s brother.

While they’ve turned up plenty of instances of Biden’s family members using their last name to try to bolster their own influence, in addition to poking holes in previous statements by Joe Biden and the White House, Republicans have not yet found any proverbial smoking gun.

Devon Archer, one previous associate of Hunter Biden’s, testified that he would put Joe Biden on speaker phone during dinners, or that the now-president stopped by dinners with business associates — but he also underscored that business wasn’t discussed in those moments. Rob Walker, another former Hunter Biden associate, told investigators that Joe Biden wasn’t involved in their business deals.

Even as he recounted how Joe Biden stopped by a lunch with business associates while out of political office in 2017, Walker characterized the appearance as exchanging “pleasantries.”

Hunter Biden, according to a person with direct knowledge of the interview, also addressed a 2017 message he sent to a business associate, where he claimed to be sitting next to his father.

“Hunter admitted that he was high or drunk when he sent the ‘sitting here with my father’ WhatsApp message, sent it to the wrong recipient, and is now embarrassed by the message. He confirmed that his dad was not sitting next to him,” the person said.

Democrats indicated to reporters, after the first round of questioning, that Hunter Biden was asked about previous testimony that he would put his father on speakerphone.

“They seem to be obsessively focused on speaker phones and use of speakerphone. I did not know that that was the devil’s technology, but apparently it is. I believe, based on this first hour, that this whole thing has really been a tremendous waste of our legislative time,” Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, told reporters.

But Mace, asked about Democrats’ comments, pushed back, questioning why Hunter Biden would put his father on speakerphone during business dinners.

“The whole thing is bullshit and a lie and stupid,” she added. “This is not about Hunter Biden’s drug issues. … This is about pay to play. This is about corruption.”

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