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  • Lauren Albano

House Oversight Committee Subpoenas Hunter Biden

Chairman James Comer (R-KY) announced on Nov. 8 that the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability issued subpoenas to Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden. This is the latest development in the Republican-dominated Committee’s search for any wrongdoing by the President that could call for impeachment.

A President can only be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” according to the Constitution. House Republicans’ urge to fulfill this requirement launched a months-long inquiry into the foreign business dealings of the Biden family.

It is unprecedented for an impeachment inquiry to look into events that didn’t happen during a  President’s time in office. It is also unheard of to investigate allegations that are not tied to a specific day or incident, as is occurring with the case of President Biden.

“Congress has a constitutional duty to conduct oversight to determine whether our nation’s elected leaders have used public office to enrich themselves or their families, and more importantly, whether those public officials may be compromised by their family’s foreign business dealings,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) said.

House Republicans claim that President Biden benefitted from Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings while he was Vice President. The Committee created a timeline of the Bidens’ “influence peddling” and published supplementary documents it considers evidence. 

Devon Archer, a colleague of Hunter Biden, said in a recorded interview that the Biden family essentially sold the “brand” of Joe Biden to foreign buyers to signal their power and influence. He also explained that Hunter Biden would have business dinners with these foreign associates, where President Biden joined by phone to greet them. These associates then would wire money to Biden family-associated limited liability companies. 

The House Oversight Committee obtained financial records showing that the Biden family created over 20 of these LLCs to hide these payments. The LLCs received over $24 million in five years, and the sources of this money include China, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Kazakhstan.

The involvement of China and Russia in the Biden family’s foreign business dealings is particularly concerning to House Republicans. With increasing concerns over China and Russia’s partnership—from China endorsing Russia in its war with Ukraine to the two countries backing Palestine in its conflict with Israel—the stage appears to be getting set for a greater global conflict between the United States and the two powers.

“Unlike the many lies President Biden told the American people about his family’s business schemes, bank records don’t lie,” Comer said in a press release. “These records reveal how the Bidens sold Joe Biden around the world to benefit the Biden family, including Joe Biden himself, to the detriment of U.S. interests.”

However, Archer clarified in his testimony that there was no explicit proof that the President directly benefited financially from these interactions with Hunter Biden’s business associates. 

The House Oversight Committee is also investigating allegations made by House Republicans that Hunter Biden received “preferential treatment from the IRS and the Justice Department,” according to NPR. This was while Hunter Biden underwent investigations for several tax issues, as well as an instance in 2018 in which he lied on a federal form about being drug-free at the time he purchased a gun.

Hunter Biden had a plea deal arranged with prosecutors that would have allowed him to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and avoid jail time. The deal would also allow him to enter a diversion program that would avoid prosecution on the gun charge. However, it fell through when Judge Maryellen Noreika deferred the deal, calling it “form over substance.”

Two Internal Revenue Service whistleblowers came forward claiming that the “Department of Justice prevented investigators from following evidence that could have led to Joe Biden; divulged sensitive information to Hunter Biden’s attorneys; and allowed the clock to run out to prevent charging Hunter Biden with felonies.” 

The whistleblowers are IRS supervisory special agent Gary Shapley and IRS criminal investigator Joseph Ziegler. Shapley worked in the IRS’ International Tax and Financial Crimes group, which oversaw the IRS investigation into Hunter Biden. Ziegler initiated an inquiry into Hunter Biden’s taxes in November 2018.

In their testimonies, Shapley said that prosecutors would not allow his team to further investigate WhatsApp messages between Hunter Biden and CEFC China Energy executives, in which he claimed to be discussing business with his father. Ziegler also mentioned that the U.S. Attorney in Delaware, David Weiss, “was constantly hamstrung, limited, and marginalized by DOJ officials as well as other U.S. Attorneys.”

“There should not be a two-track justice system depending on who you are and who you’re connected to. Yet in this case, there was,” Shapley said. “At every stage, decisions were made that benefitted the subject of the investigation.”

However, other testimonies have come out from several Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS officials that contradict the claims from Shapley and Ziegler. According to CNN, these witnesses testified that “they don’t remember US Attorney David Weiss saying that he lacked the authority to decide whether to bring charges against the President’s son.”

Hunter Biden sued the IRS for releasing his tax records, particularly his confidential tax return information and private records. He is seeking documents regarding the disclosure of his tax records and $1,000 for each unauthorized release. This lawsuit is in retaliation to the whistleblowers’ testimonies, as Hunter Biden’s complaint is that IRS agents have “sought to embarrass [him] via public statements to the media,” according to NPR.

Thus, the next step in the House Oversight Committee’s impeachment inquiry into President Biden was to subpoena Hunter Biden, along with James Biden, the President’s brother, and Biden family associate Rob Walker. The Committee also requested voluntary interviews with several individuals, including Sara Biden (James Biden’s wife) and Hallie Biden, who is both the widow of the President’s son Beau Biden and a previous romantic partner of Hunter Biden.

This is the first time the President’s family members have been subpoenaed during the impeachment inquiry. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) called the subpoenas “a necessary next step as House Republicans deliver accountability for the American people.”

However, White House officials have criticized the House Republicans’ investigation, calling it “illegitimate” and requesting that the Committee withdraw the subpoenas, which they said are “unjustified.” White House counsel Richard Sauber further besmirched the House Oversight Committee’s investigation in a letter addressed to Comer and Jordan. 

“Your latest steps follow an irresponsible set of subpoenas and requests for interviews that you launched last week, directed to multiple members of the President’s family, all of whom are private citizens,” Sauber wrote. “These unjustified requests were sent despite the fact that, after a year of investigating, voluminous records and testimony from dozens of witnesses have refuted your baseless allegations about the President.”

Some House Republicans are suggesting that the House Oversight Committee put the impeachment inquiry to rest, given that President Biden’s favorability numbers for the 2024 presidential election appear to be decreasing, thus decreasing the likelihood that he stays in office another four years. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) reportedly indicated that there was insufficient evidence to formally impeach the President at this time, and impeaching President Biden may become less of a priority for House Republicans under Johnson’s leadership.

Despite the long road of testimony and document recovery, it is still seemingly unclear whether the House Oversight Committee will find any evidence that explicitly incriminates President Biden and constitutes his impeachment.

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