Republicans on the House Oversight Committee released new details this week about business dealings by President Biden’s brother James and son Hunter during his vice presidency. Republicans say the records provide “indications of influence peddling” by Biden’s relatives.
The Biden White House said the report is “nothing more than innuendo and insinuation.”
The report says that James and Hunter Biden were paid over $10 million by companies associated with foreign countries or governments when Joe Biden was vice president. It does not provide proof of decisions made by the then vice president that were influenced by his relatives.
What are Republicans and Democrats saying about the report?
The Republican report says Biden’s brother and son engaged in “many intentionally complicated financial transactions to hide these payments and avoid scrutiny” and set up “over 20 companies” to shield themselves. In an appearance this week on Fox News, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, said that James and Hunter Biden also sought to avoid paying taxes.
Hunter Biden is under investigation by federal law enforcement as to whether he has failed to pay taxes, according to multiple news reports.
The Biden White House is responding by pointing to what Fox News itself is saying about the report. On Thursday morning, network host Steve Doocy responded to Comer’s claims of “influence peddling” by the Biden relatives.
“That’s just your suggestion. You don’t actually have any facts to that point. You’ve got some circumstantial evidence,” Doocy told Comer. “And the other thing is, of all those names, the one person who didn’t profit — there’s no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally.”
The clip was promoted on Twitter by White House spokesman Ian Sams, who is driving the administration’s response to Comer’s investigation.
Comer said Republicans hope to still find evidence of “active participation” by the president. This was an implicit admission that to date they have found none. Still, Comer insisted, “we know that Joe Biden was actively involved.”
What are the key details?
Comer said at a news conference that the Biden business dealings “risked our country’s national security.” To prove that, Republicans know they need to give proof that Joe Biden made decisions or took actions as an elected official that were influenced by his brother’s or son’s financial deals.
Comer has yet to prove that happened. He insists there is smoke, however.
Hunter Biden, for example, was hired as a lawyer to advise Romanian businessman Gabriel Popoviciu, who was under investigation for bribery related to a land deal at a time when then-Vice President Biden was traveling to that country to speak against corruption. The Oversight report says that “Biden family accounts received approximately $1.038 million” between 2015 and 2017 from a legal entity that was “reported to be Gabriel Popoviciu’s Cypriot company.”
And Hunter Biden also received over $1 million in 2017 from someone with links to a Chinese energy company.
But these stories are years old. Comer had predicted that this week’s report would advance the story by providing new information about the president’s connections to these business dealings.
The lack of any real new developments has opened Comer to criticism that he is using government resources to rehash old stories in an attempt to influence the 2024 presidential election.
Hunter Biden has said in the past that he showed “poor judgment” in some of his business dealings. His statement can be read as an acknowledgment that, at the very least, it’s not a good idea for the relatives of politicians to make large sums of money advising clients who need help from politicians.
Former President Donald Trump’s children also conducted business overseas with clients who could benefit from government action, which also drew criticism at the time.