House Republicans vow to investigate Biden and his family's business dealings
By Annie Grayer, Sara Murray and Marshall Cohen, CNNUpdated: Thu, 17 Nov 2022 18:35:08 GMTSource: CNNAfter clinching the majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, top RepublicBy Annie Grayer, Sara Murray and Marshall Cohen, CNN
Updated: Thu, 17 Nov 2022 18:35:08 GMT
After clinching the majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, top Republicans on Thursday outlined a broad range of investigative targets focused on President Joe Biden and his family's business dealings.
"In the 118th Congress, this committee will evaluate the status of Joe Biden's relationship with his family's foreign partners and whether he is a President who is compromised or swayed by foreign dollars and influence," said Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee. "I want to be clear: This is an investigation of Joe Biden, and that's where the committee will focus in this next Congress."
In a wide-ranging news conference flanked by GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, who is expected to become chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and other Republicans on the oversight committee, Comer said Republicans have made connections between the president's son, Hunter Biden, and the president that they believe requires further investigation. Comer said his team has spoken with multiple whistleblowers who say they were involved in schemes involving the Biden family, reviewed Hunter Biden's laptop, and received "previously unknown transactions."
Comer is specifically zeroing in on more than 100 bank activity reports -- known as Suspicious Activity Reports -- that are allegedly related to the Biden family and says that the Treasury Department has ignored his repeated requests when Republicans were in the minority to hand over them over.
So far, Comer says he has only seen two of those reports, and he renewed his request for the remainder of them today. Such reports are not always indicative of criminal activity or wrongdoing.
As part of his investigation, Comer said, "We would love to talk to people in the Biden family, specifically Hunter and Joe Biden."
The White House said the investigations are politically motivated and a waste of time.
"Instead of working with President Biden to address issues important to the American people, like lower costs, congressional Republicans' top priority is to go after President Biden with politically motivated attacks chock full of long-debunked conspiracy theories" spokesmen for the White House Counsel's office, Ian Sams, said in a statement to CNN.
"President Biden is not going to let these political attacks distract him from focusing on Americans' priorities, and we hope congressional Republicans will join us in tackling them instead of wasting time and resources on political revenge," Sams added.
A spokeswoman for Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, Nelly Decker, said the Republicans "rehashed the same, partisan talking points" that have been circulating for years.
"Now that former President Trump is running for office again, House Republicans' top priority is attacking President Biden and his family in a desperate attempt to return Mr. Trump to power," Decker said in a statement.
Republicans had little ability to enforce their document requests while they were in the minority. But once the new Congress is sworn in in January, Republicans will gain subpoena power, a more powerful enforcement mechanism to try to compel individuals and government entities to hand over information.
Private attorneys representing Biden family members did not respond to requests for comment.
Zeroing in on suspicious activity reports
At the heart of Comer's investigation is digging into a series of suspicious activity reports that Republicans claim banks have filed related to Hunter Biden's financial activities. In a letter to the Treasury Department on Thursday, Comer sought any such reports related to various members of the Biden family, their business associates and companies linked to Hunter Biden.
Comer also is seeking communications within the Treasury Department, its financial crimes enforcement division and the White House regarding those family members and related businesses and associates.
While Republicans have seized on the suspicious activity reports as evidence that Joe Biden's son was involved in problematic activities, such reports are not conclusive and do not necessarily indicate wrongdoing. Financial institutions file millions of suspicious activity reports each year and few lead to law enforcement inquiries.
Comer sent a letter to a financial adviser, who Comer has said was managing Hunter Biden's finances, seeking any suspicious activity reports, as well as financial information about Hunter Biden. He is also seeking information from one of Hunter Biden's former business partners, including communications related to Hunter Biden and Joe Biden's finances, taxes and debts.
The letters were part of a new round Comer fired off to various government agencies and individuals Thursday seeking more information to further his probe.
He also asked the National Archives for flight manifests and other documents related to Air Force Two and Marine Two during Biden's tenure as vice president, as well as communications related to Russia, Ukraine and Hunter Biden during his vice presidency.
From the FBI, he's seeking any documents related to "foreign intelligence services' efforts to compromise the Biden family" and information about Timothy Thibault, a former FBI agent that Republicans have accused of politicizing investigations. Thibault has denied wrongdoing.
Another letter went to Georges Bergés, the gallery owner who showcased and sold Hunter Biden's artwork. Among the documents requested were communications with the White House and Hunter Biden, discussions about the pricing of Hunter Biden's work, and rosters of those who attended Hunter Biden's art shows and purchased his work.
Alleged 'politicization' at the FBI
Federal prosecutors have been investigating Hunter Biden since 2018 and have not brought any charges yet. When asked by CNN if they know whether the claims presented Thursday have already been investigated by federal prosecutors, Jordan said: "We don't know."
Jordan also said that under his leadership, the House Judiciary Committee will look into alleged "politicization" at the FBI. Jordan and other Republican lawmakers previously claimed that they've heard from FBI insiders about anti-conservative bias fueling FBI decision-making, especially at the FBI's Washington Field Office.
"I've been in Congress a few years now, and I've never seen anything like it," Jordan said. "Fourteen (FBI) agents come talk to us while we're in the minority about how political that place has become."
According to Jordan, the alleged politicization might include attempts by the FBI to suppress media coverage of the Hunter Biden story in 2020.
Many of these claims have been circulating in GOP circles during Biden's administration -- with Republicans taking over the House next year, they'll have an official platform to investigate these matters and put them on full display.
At least one of the FBI agents that the GOP lawmakers are scrutinizing has previously denied any wrongdoing. The "whistleblowers" are anonymous and haven't testified at any public Congressional hearings.
"The FBI has testified to Congress and responded to letters from legislators on numerous occasions to provide an accurate accounting of how we do our work" an FBI spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
"The men and women of the FBI devote themselves to protecting the American people from terrorism, violent crime, cyber threats and other dangers," the spokesperson said. "Put quite simply: we follow the facts without regard for politics."