At a press conference to reveal new “evidence” against the Biden family on Wednesday.
The nearly hour-long session led by Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer came a week after Comer and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley alleged in a letter that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has in its records a report detailing “an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national in connection with the exchange of money for political decisions.”
Comer had issued a subpoena for the FBI document, known as FD-1023, giving FBI Director Christopher Wray until 10 a.m. Wednesday to deliver the document.
“I mean, guys, you in the press, this is an easy choice,” Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida told reporters. “I’m giving you Pulitzer stuff here. All you have to do is literally look at our memo and see the level of detail that they’ve created this with and it’s… very frustrating.”
Flanked by a horde of House Oversight Committee members ranging from relatively moderate Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s opponents like Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, the assembled Republicans to show that Biden and his family had benefited from his tenure in public service.
Republicans tried to tell the press that the allegations were serious and that reporters should investigate possible illegal activity. In the days before the presentation, Comer and his allies had hinted that they would present explosive evidence that would show clear cases of wrongdoing. They expected a significant turnout and asked reporters in attendance to RSVP to the press conference. At the arrived, the independent he received a summary of the allegations of wrongdoing, but when Comer began speaking shortly after 9 a.m., it was clear that the seats in the House television studio were not as full as the president and Republican members probably expected.
Opening the news conference, Comer noted that the FBI had not yet released the report in question, saying the panel “will only tell you the facts when they are verified and indisputable” after receiving the document. He also said that his committee “would not wage witch hunts or harass the American people for years with false promises of evidence that goes beyond circumstantial evidence.”
Yet at the same time, the Kentucky Republican offered conclusions for which he had no evidence, such as telling reporters that it was “inconceivable that the president didn’t know” that his family members were allegedly receiving “millions of dollars of China”.
The House investigation led by Comer, who earlier this year closed an investigation into how former President Donald Trump’s family members extorted billions of dollars from Middle East sovereign wealth funds after he left office in 2017. , is a continuation of efforts by major Republicans to target Mr. Biden with corruption allegations through his son, lawyer and former lobbyist Hunter Biden, and other members of his family.
The first of two Trump impeachment trials began with efforts by the then-president and his associates to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce bogus investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden, the latter of whom served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. firm for several years in the 2010s.
In appearances on Fox News, Comer also alleged that Hunter Biden’s previous business relationship with a Chinese national influenced the decisions his father made as president. He and other top Republicans have accused the president of being “compromised” by his son’s business dealings, though Biden has never been shown to have derived any financial benefit from them.
He has also repeatedly denied having any involvement in his family’s private business affairs. Yet Republicans have tried to portray the president as somehow leading a family business that they have compared unfavorably to Trump’s namesake real estate and branding firm, despite the fact that two of Trump’s companies were convicted of tax fraud. criminal in a trial in New York. cut last year.
Despite promises to prove Biden’s criminality, Comer’s filing on Wednesday did not allege any criminal acts by Biden or his family, even as he and his fellow committee members told reporters that Hunter Biden’s brother de Biden, James, and other members of the President’s family have been involved in “shady dealings that capitalized on Joe Biden’s public office and put our country’s national security at risk.”
Much of what Comer discussed involved bank records that he said reveal Hunter Biden had a “lucrative financial relationship” with a Romanian national named Gabriel Popoviciu during his father’s term as vice president under Barack Obama.
Popoviciu, he said, was later “under investigation and then convicted of corruption” in his home country, though the Kentucky Republican never claimed that the investigation or conviction had anything to do with Biden.
The Oversight Committee chairman alleged that Hunter Biden’s relationship with Mr. Popoviciu was related to the then-Vice President’s work in carrying out the Obama administration’s Romania policy, describing it as “a foreign adversary” to despite the fact that Romania is a long-standing US ally and NATO member. .
He also suggested that the wire transfers to Hunter Biden, a lawyer and lobbyist, were suspicious because they “occurred while Joe Biden was vice president leading America’s efforts in these countries” and accused the now-president of “lecturing Romania on anti-corruption policies.” ” while “walking a billboard for his son and family to raise money.”
Comer accused the Biden family of engaging in “a pattern of influence peddling” because the end of Hunter Biden’s business relationship with Popoviciu occurred when the Obama-Biden administration left office, though he offered no evidence that any US policy decision was the result of any undue influence exerted by Hunter Biden or anyone with whom he had a business relationship.
Other committee members who spoke after the president attacked other members of the Biden family, including Hallie Biden, the widow of Biden’s eldest son, Beau Biden.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong noted that bank records show that some of the money paid to Hunter Biden by Mr. Popoviciu in 2015 was wired to Ms. Biden, calling those wires suspicious because then-Vice President Biden had made a speech about the dangers of corruption during a May 2014 visit to Romania.
“In fact, it is very difficult to find a legitimate business reason to transact with this guy in such a complex way,” he said.
He also suggested that there was no legitimate reason for Ms. Biden to receive a portion of the funds paid to Hunter Biden by Mr. Popoviciu in late 2015, despite the fact that she had by then entered into a romantic relationship with him following the death of her husband in May 2015. .
Although not a single committee member offered evidence that the president, his son, or his brother had broken any laws, some called for the prosecution of Biden and his family.
Ms. Mace, from South Carolina, said the Justice Department “needs to get off its ***” and bring charges against the Bidens.
“If any of these allegations are proven to be true, someone with the last name Biden should be charged, prosecuted, maybe spend a little bit of prison time for accountability and accountability,” he said, though it was unclear what crimes , if there are. she alleged that the Bidens had committed.
The House Republicans’ filing comes as the White House and outside groups are stepping up efforts to defend the president, and his family, from what they describe as baseless attacks that are heavily innuendo and lacking in substance.
One such group led by veteran Democratic operative David Brock, Facts First, held a conference call with reporters shortly after Comer’s session concluded.
Brock noted that the GOP’s own report “showed no payments to Joe Biden, nor evidence of policy decisions influenced by anything other than the national interests of the US. The presidency “seems to cross unwisely.”
“The reality is we don’t even have a scandal here, much less Watergate,” said Brock, who was followed by former Trump arranger Michael Cohen.
Cohen, who in 2018 pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, making false statements to a federally insured bank and campaign finance violations for actions he said he took at the behest of Trump, told reporters that the claim de Comer of finding “stunning foreign entanglements” was “ridiculous and irresponsible” and evidence that the Oversight committee chairman is auditioning for a spot on the 2024 Republican ticket alongside Trump.
He also said that nothing Comer has alleged about the Bidens is worse than what Trump and his family have been known to do during and after their time in the White House.
“Trump’s children benefited more from their father’s presidency than anyone in history. For example, Ivanka and Jared somehow made over $600 million during their time in service as senior advisers to the president. Now, during that tenure, Ivanka also received a number of trademarks on his clothing and his jewelry lines from China. And Jared, shortly thereafter, was bailed out in the Middle East for his troubled property at 666 Fifth Avenue, a property Jared bought on behalf of his family, which turns out to be the worst real estate deal in the city’s history. New York,” he said. saying.