Hunter Biden sold ‘illusion of access’ to his father, former business partner tells Congress
Jul 31, 2023, 8:28 AM | Updated: 1:12 pm
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hunter Biden’s former business partner insisted in testimony to Congress Monday that President Joe Biden was never directly involved in their financial dealings, though Hunter would often put his famous father on speakerphone to impress clients and business associates.
The Republican-led House Oversight Committee conducted a more than-five hour interview with Devon Archer as part of its expanding congressional inquiry into the Biden family businesses as the GOP explores a potential impeachment inquiry into the president.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers inside the closed-door interview said Archer testified that over the span of 10 years, Hunter Biden put his father on the phone around 20 times while in the company of associates but “never once spoke about any business dealings.”
New York Rep. Dan Goldman, who was representing Democrats inside the room, told reporters after the interview that Archer testified that Hunter sold the “illusion of access” to his father by taking credit for things his father did as vice president that he had no part in.
But Rep. Andy Biggs, a Republican member of the Oversight Committee, came out of the interview saying that testimony implicated the president directly. “I think we should do an impeachment inquiry,” the Arizona lawmaker told reporters.
Biggs, reading from his notes, said Archer testified that the Ukrainian gas company “Burisma would have gone out of business sooner if the Biden brand had not been invoked. People would be intimidated to legally mess with Burisma because of the Biden family brand.”
Archer, who served with Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma, has been seen by Republicans as a key witness in their search to directly connect the president to his son’s various international business transactions.
Rep. James Comer, the GOP chairman of Oversight Committee, issued a subpoena to Archer in June, saying he “played a significant role in the Biden family’s business deals abroad, including but not limited to China, Russia, and Ukraine.” He said Archer’s testimony would be critical to the committee’s investigation.
Republicans have focused much attention on an unverified tip to the FBI that alleged a bribery scheme involving Joe Biden when he was vice president. The claim, which first emerged in 2019, was that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor in order to stop an investigation into Burisma, the oil-and-gas company where Hunter Biden was on the board.
Democrats on the committee, including Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking minority member, have reiterated that the Justice Department investigated the Burisma claim when Donald Trump was president and closed the matter after eight months, finding “insufficient evidence” that it was true. Democrats have also highlighted the transcript of an interview with Mykola Zlochevsky, Burisma’s co-founder, in which he denied having any contact with Joe Biden while Hunter Biden worked for the company.
“Mr. Zlochevsky’s statements are just one of the many that have debunked the corruption allegations,” Raskin said.
On top of his relationship with Hunter Biden, who is currently facing federal tax charges, Archer has his own legal troubles stemming from a 2018 felony conviction for his role in a conspiracy to defraud a Native American tribe. That conviction was overturned later that year, but the court of appeals in New York reinstated it in 2020. His sentencing in the case has been repeatedly delayed by appeals.
Archer’s appearance before lawmakers had been scheduled and canceled several times since June. Republicans suggested it was about to be delayed again after the Justice Department over the weekend asked a judge to schedule a date for Archer to surrender to prison and begin serving out his one-year sentence in the unrelated fraud case.
Republicans — led by Comer — criticized that delay, calling it an effort by the Justice Department to intimidate a witness. But the Justice Department in a follow-up memo to the court noted Archer’s surrender was not imminent and asked a judge to ensure that he testified to Congress before reporting to prison.
“Mr. Archer will do what he has planned to do all along, which is to show up this morning and to honestly answer the questions that are put to him by the congressional investigators,” said Archer’s attorney, Matthew Schwartz, who is a managing partner at New York-based firm Boies Schiller Flexner.