House GOP releases new memo on Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings, reviving old claims
The president says he wasn't involved; Republicans say they don't need proof.
House Republicans on Wednesday released a 19-page memo with "new information obtained in the [Oversight] Committee's investigation into the Biden family's influence peddling schemes," according to Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the panel's chairman.
But an initial review of the document indicates that the conduct it describes draws heavily from past congressional reports and previously released testimony.
Many of the details highlighted in the new memo date back to a 2020 report published by Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, of Iowa and Wisconsin, which found that Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden's overseas business ventures were "awkward" and at times "problematic" for U.S. officials but provided no new evidence and found no instance of government policy being altered as a result.
Other parts of the memo were made public last week, when the Oversight Committee released the complete transcript of its interview with Devon Archer, a longtime former business associate of Hunter Biden.
The most notable element of the committee's memo could be its claim that it does not need to find evidence directly connecting Joe Biden to what it described as "Biden family" business efforts in order to demonstrate corruption.
Since Republicans retook the House last year, they have launched multiple investigative efforts aimed at learning more about who paid Hunter Biden in the past, when and why, and they have contended that the swirl of foreign money sullies Joe Biden himself.
In Wednesday's memo, Republicans on the oversight panel argued that critics "purport a weak defense by asserting the Committee must show payments directly to the President to show corruption."
"This is a hollow claim no other American would be afforded if their family members accepted foreign payments or bribes. Indeed, the law recognizes payments to family members to corruptly influence others can constitute a bribe," the committee's Republicans went on to write, citing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
That law warns against payments to relatives if they are used "as an indirect way of corruptly influencing ... [an] official," which GOP lawmakers haven't proven.
In closed-door testimony last week, Archer told the oversight panel that he saw no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden in connection to Hunter Biden's business dealings but described to lawmakers how Hunter Biden offered clients "the illusion of access" by promoting the "Biden brand."
The White House has repeatedly dismissed claims of misconduct by the president, saying there is no evidence that Joe Biden was or is connected to his son's business work. The president has said the same.
"House Republicans can't prove President Biden did anything wrong, but they are proving every day they have no vision and no agenda to actually help the American people. For them, it's all about partisan games and political attacks that serve themselves and get themselves attention on rightwing media – not about taking on the big challenges facing our country," White House counsel's office spokesperson Ian Sams wrote in an email to reporters on Wednesday.
House Democrats likewise pounced on the new memo, contending it is part of Republicans' "increasingly embarrassing attempt to justify their baseless calls for an impeachment inquiry."
"Committee Republicans have once again released information on financial transactions that do not involve the President," said Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee. "Instead, they rehash the same Hunter Biden business dealings that Congressional Republicans identified at least three years ago."
In a statement, Comer defended his panel's work, saying in part: "The House Oversight Committee will continue to follow the money trail and obtain witness testimony to determine whether foreign actors targeted the Bidens, President Biden is compromised or corrupt, and our national security is threatened."
Here is a closer look at some of the details in the new memo.
In one case, the memo highlights a $3.5 million payment in 2014 from the wife of the former mayor of Moscow to Rosemont Seneca Thornton LLC, the business entity the committee says was co-founded by Hunter Biden and Archer.
This payment was included in the 2020 report issued by Senate Republicans, and former President Donald Trump highlighted this alleged transaction in his first debate with Joe Biden.
An attorney for Hunter Biden at the time said the claim was "false," telling ABC News that Hunter Biden had no interest in Rosemont Seneca Thornton when the payment was made and was not, as Republicans claimed, a co-founder. (This lawyer made a distinction between Rosemont Seneca Thornton and Rosemont Seneca Partners, which Hunter Biden actually did co-found.)
Politico reported that Trump also sought to engage the former Moscow mayor for business opportunities prior to his time in office.
Another major claim in the Republicans' new memo is that Hunter Biden accepted a $142,300 wire transfer from a wealthy Kazakh businessman for a sports car.
This, too, was part of the Senate report published in 2020.
Comer describes an allegation from Archer -- which was described in reporting about Archer's testimony -- that Joe Biden attended a dinner in 2014 at Washington eatery Café Milano with business associates of Hunter Biden's.
According to Archer's testimony, Joe Biden arrived and greeted guests at the 2014 dinner, sat down and "talked about the world, I guess, and the weather, and then everybody left."
ABC News' Molly Nagle contributed to this report.
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