During a closed-door deposition last July, Devon Archer, a former business partner of President Biden’s son Hunter, was asked what, exactly, he and the president’s son had done while they were working for the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
Archer was there first, he explained, to “basically find outside financing for global expansion, which we were very successful in.” Then Hunter Biden came on board, hired to serve as legal counsel. Asked by Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) to confirm Biden’s credentials on that point, Archer agreed that the president’s son, whom he said was then working for the firm Boies Schiller, served as a legal adviser for a number of business ventures.
“We commissioned a report where the initial reading was, like, a Crowell Report,” Archer explained when describing their work, referring to assessments from a prominent law firm. He added that they had engaged another firm to analyze the company “which still sits in my office — it’s about 10 binders wide — to dig into the governance and vision forward and set new ground rules and all that kind of stuff.” Archer acknowledged that he and Hunter Biden recognized that Burisma wanted Biden on staff because they believed he had influence. He also testified that Biden was explicit that no such influence existed but that he knew it was important to preserve that perception.
All of this has somehow escaped the attention of House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (Ky.), one of the House Republicans tasked with investigating President Biden in advance of a possible (and obviously probable) impeachment.
Shortly before his committee convened Wednesday to consider holding Hunter Biden in contempt for failing to appear for his own closed-door deposition, Comer appeared on Fox Business for an interview with host Maria Bartiromo. (No one in the media universe has been more credulous on this subject than Bartiromo.)
Bartiromo asked Comer whether he felt he has “the evidence right now to prove to the American people that President Biden committed a crime?”
“I think so,” Comer replied. “I think the American people have one question: What exactly did the Bidens do to receive the millions and millions of dollars from our enemies around the world?”
He noted that a recent report from the Democratic minority on his committee showed millions taken from foreign governments went to the Trump Organization while Donald Trump was president, but waved that away. That was “through his hotels and golf courses,” he said, implying that it was therefore necessarily legitimate.
“What exactly did the Bidens do?” he continued. “I haven’t found a legitimate business yet, Maria. We found a lot of LLCs. They don’t appear to have any assets or any specific purpose. We call those a shell company.”
Setting aside this claim that he didn’t know what “the Bidens” did (one, he should be aware, served as vice president and wasn’t linked to those companies), we can point out that Comer should know that the corporations that he loves to refer to as “shell companies” had both functions and assets. The Washington Post looked at this in August; more of the corporations to which he’s referring had obvious purposes — such as Owasco P.C., which was the corporation entity that served as Hunter Biden’s law firm.
But it is more useful to Comer to 1) describe that LLC as a “shell company,” given its pejorative value, 2) pretend that Biden’s actual role was somehow unknown and 3) ignore that Archer had explained this in his deposed interview.
That last point is important to consider given the intent of Wednesday’s committee meeting. Hunter Biden was subpoenaed for a deposition but through his attorney said he would appear before Oversight in an open hearing instead. (His attorney, in a letter to Comer, pointed to the chairman’s statement during a podcast that he would welcome either public or private testimony.) The date of the deposition came and went, and Republicans moved forward with approving a contempt-of-Congress referral.
What Hunter Biden no doubt knows is that a closed-door deposition allows Comer and other Republicans to cherry-pick claims much more easily — if they release the transcript of the deposition at all. (Most of the depositions that have taken place, Oversight Democrats note, have not been made public.)
During the meeting, Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Tex.) was pointed on this subject.
“Let me tell you why no one wants to talk to y’all behind closed doors,” she said to her Republican colleagues. “Because y’all lie.”
This is demonstrably true, including when considering the Archer testimony itself. It is fair to question the legitimacy of Hunter Biden’s failure to participate in the subpoenaed deposition, certainly, but it is indisputably justifiable for him to be wary of doing so.
When it was his turn to speak, Rep. Greg Casar (D-Tex.) raised a related, valid point: If Republicans were so desperate to hear from Hunter Biden, why didn’t they just go ahead and hold the open hearing anyway? The younger Biden had unexpectedly appeared in the hearing room, allowing Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) to ask for a show of hands from the committee members about their willingness to swear Hunter Biden in for questions right then and there. None took him up on the offer.
That’s again because many of them seem to legitimately believe that they have the evidence they need — not simply to target Hunter Biden and elevate his actions but to impeach the president.
Ranking Democrat Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) noted that this wasn’t the case.
“We were here for a year,” he noted at one point. “You guys did not lay a glove on Joe Biden. You don’t have a single credible piece of evidence, not one iota, showing any crime by Joe Biden.”
A bit later, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) offered a response to that claim. This wasn’t an impeachment itself but, instead, an inquiry into filing articles to impeach Biden.
“An inquiry is different than an impeachment,” he said. “It is a search for [a] document.”
A bit later, Raskin jumped in, noting that the inquiry has ostensibly been underway since September.
“What’s been found since then?” he asked.
“Once again, there’s stuff there,” Gosar said. “There is stuff there.”
“There’s stuff there?” Raskin replied. “Can you share it with us?”
Gosar’s answer: Well, what exactly did Biden do for his money?
This was answered in a closed-door deposition six months ago. It is obvious once you consider the actual function of the LLCs, as The Post did in August. Both of which predate the September impeachment inquiry. An inquiry, mind you, that’s had only one public hearing — one featuring witnesses who were meant to demonstrate the sketchiness of Hunter Biden’s work but ended up pointing out that they had no direct evidence implicating Joe Biden.
After that hearing, a presumably embarrassed Comer told reporters that he didn’t like public hearings and might not hold any more. It’s much easier to bolster your narrative when you get to choose what parts of it people see.