US congressional committee releases testimony from Hunter Biden's business partner
Devon Archer's interview discusses business dealings with President Joe Biden's son trying to sell his father as a 'brand'
By Darren Lyn
HOUSTON, US (AA) — A US congressional committee this week released the transcript of an interview with a business partner of Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden's son, which purport to show that in the 2010s, the younger Biden used his father's status as a "brand" to "enrich the Biden family."
According to Republican Congressman James Comer, who chairs the US House of Representatives Oversight Committee, then-Vice President Biden, serving under President Barack Obama, "joined Hunter Biden and his associates for dinners or by phone over 20 times to sell 'the brand' and send a signal about their power, access, and influence."
House Republicans have pushed the theory that Joe Biden was complicit in the efforts by his son — who has admitted to a troubled past, including drug addiction — to use the president's name and influence to make money through business deals. Republican Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, has said he may launch an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden.
Biden has denied any involvement in his son's business dealings, and Democrats say there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the current president. They add that Republican inquiries into Hunter Biden are efforts to distract the public from the legal woes of former President Donald Trump.
Here are some of the key exchanges in the interviews with Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's business partner, highlighted in a news release by the committee.
Majority Counsel: You keep saying "the brand," but by "brand" you mean the Biden family, correct?
Devon Archer: Correct.
Majority Counsel: And that brand is what, in your opinion, was the majority of what the value that was delivered from Hunter Biden to Burisma (Ukrainian energy company in which Hunter and Archer were once board members)?
Archer: I didn't say majority, but I wouldn't speculate on percentages. But I do think that that was an element of it.
Rep. Andy Biggs: When you say "Biden family" — sorry to cut in here. I just want to get a clarification. You aren't talking about Dr. Jill (Biden, now first lady) or anybody else. You're talking about Joe Biden. Is that fair to say?
Archer: Yeah, that's fair to say. Listen, I think it's — I don't think about it as, you know, Joe directly, but it's fair. That's fair to say. Obviously, that brought the most value to the brand.
The transcript also says then-Vice President Biden attended dinners with his son's foreign business associates who wired money to Biden-associated corporations.
Majority Counsel: And I want to talk about the value. Going back to this, it would be, spring of 2014 Cafe Milano dinner —
Archer: Uh‑huh. The spring of '14, yeah, the first one.
Majority Counsel: And since we talked about it before the break, if you could just recap. Can you just say again who was there?
Archer: Sure. Kenes Rakishev, Karim Massimov, Yelena Baturina, possibly Yury, Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, possibly Eric Schwerin.
Majority Counsel: The duration of time that Joe Biden stayed there you said you couldn't recall. But do you recall whether he had dinner or whether —
Archer: He had dinner, yeah. I recall that he had dinner. It was a regular — not a long dinner, but dinner.
Majority Counsel: And so this dinner takes place in spring of 2014, approximately. But then do you recall getting a wire on February 14th of 2014 from Yelena Baturina for $3.5 million to Rosemont Seneca Thornton?
Archer: To Rosemont Seneca Thornton?
Majority Counsel: Yes.
Archer: Yes. And why I remember that is from the — from other testimony. Yes.
The release of the more-than-140-page transcript of the five-hour, closed-door interview with Archer is the beginning of what is expected to be a long and tangled Republican-led probe into Hunter Biden's business dealings and accusations that he used his father as an influencing factor to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself and his associates.
Despite speculation that Joe Biden did anything unethical or illegal, the exchange between the majority counsel and Archer denied that notion when Archer was asked: "Are you aware of any wrongdoing by Vice President Biden?"
He responded: "No, I'm not aware of any."
While the transcript portrays Hunter Biden as trying to gain favor and influence using his father's name, none of the testimony appears to show that he necessarily promised or delivered any influence that could be interpreted as illegal or that he committed any wrongdoing.
US Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the oversight panel, released a statement that said the transcript proves "once again" that Republicans cannot produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden.
"Hunter Biden's own business partner has stated that: President Biden was not involved in his son's business affairs, and that President Biden was never asked to, nor did he, take any official actions in relation to those business matters," said Raskin. "Mr. Archer stated that President Biden and his son talked every day ... he explained that, over the span of nearly a decade, he witnessed around 20 of those calls happen while other people were present in the room."
"Those calls were all about mundane subjects like the weather, geography, and other niceties and pleasantries," Raskin continued. "According to Mr. Archer, the calls were not about Hunter Biden's business dealings. Mr. Archer also confirmed that Hunter Biden was selling the 'illusion' of access to his father."
"Try as he might, Chairman Comer has yet again failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden," Raskin concluded in his statement. "Meanwhile, (Donald) Trump remains a one-man crime wave."
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