GOP cries ‘we told you so’ on Hunter Biden
Republicans are saying “we told you so” after the recent verification of emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop by major news organizations, which come amid the FBI investigation into foreign business dealings by President Joe Biden’s son.
The victory lap is also being accompanied by a new wave of action by Republicans related to Hunter Biden and his laptop — all just more than seven months before the midterm elections.
It’s also likely a sign of what’s to come if Republicans win back the House and Senate majorities this fall — which would given them the chair’s gavels on panels and subpoena power.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) last week presented records of Biden’s dealings with a Chinese company on the Senate floor, part of a probe by the senators into the Biden family’s business dealings.
At a Tuesday oversight hearing, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee asked Bryan Vorndran, assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Vorndran repeatedly answered that he had no information about it.
Holding an external hard drive in his hand, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) during that hearing requested to enter the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop into the congressional record. The request prompted discussion between Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and his staff, who objected to the request pending further investigation.
Later in the hearing, “after consultation with majority staff,” Gaetz successfully entered into the record “content from, files from, and copies from the Hunter Biden laptop.”
The contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop first came to light in 2020 after former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then serving as President Trump’s personal attorney, gave information to the New York Post, saying that they came from a laptop that Hunter Biden left at a Delaware computer repair shop. At the time, there were widespread concerns about the authenticity of the contents and concerns that the material was hacked.
But in recent news stories, The New York Times and The Washington Post authenticated portions of the laptop contents, giving weight to the material.
Hunter Biden’s laptop is now in the possession of the FBI, which is reportedly investigating whether he violated tax, foreign lobbying and money laundering laws during his business dealings in foreign countries, according to CNN and The New York Times.
Some of the congressional activity is not directly concerning a probe of the president’s son himself, but is being used as a springboard for Republicans to probe social media companies and Big Tech.
House Judiciary Republicans on Thursday launched an investigation into Facebook and Twitter for suppressing a New York Post article about the story in 2020, building on document preservation requests that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent last week.
Letters from the committee’s Republicans requesting information from Facebook and Twitter said that the companies “knowingly and deliberately used its platform to control election-related information accessible to the American people shortly before the 2020 election, and that Twitter did so to the primary benefit of then-Vice President Biden.”
At the height of the 2020 campaign season, the New York Post published a story about “smoking gun” emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop that included communications with Ukrainian executives. Twitter blocked users from sharing a link to the story for a little over two weeks, citing violations of its policy about hacked material. Facebook did not block the link but said that it reduced the story’s distribution on the platform.
“Election integrity is threatened when Big Tech censors real stories that make their preferred candidate look bad,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) said in a tweet in support of the Judiciary Committee investigation.
Though Democrats also have concerns about social media companies, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, scoffed at the move.
“We have serious structural questions with the social media today, relating to privacy, antitrust and the use of the technology for promotion of propaganda and disinformation,” Raskin, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said in reaction to Republicans’ investigation. “All of those things are serious issues, and we shouldn’t trivialize the immensity of the problems that confront us by just making everything a political football.”
Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told The Hill that he will see what the Justice Department does with its investigation, adding that House Republicans would look into Hunter Biden more if they win the House majority.
“They had this statement from then-candidate Biden when he said, you know, ‘My son did not benefit from business ties with companies in China.’ And there are 4.8 million reasons why that statement’s not accurate. So I do think we got to look into it,” Jordan said.
In a 2020 presidential debate, Biden said that “nothing was unethical” about his son’s business dealings and that “my son has not made money in terms of this thing about, talking about China.”
Asked about those statements this week in light of the FBI investigation, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said that the White House stood by the president’s debate comments.
Republican interest in probing Hunter Biden’s dealings is not new.
Senate Republicans probed Hunter Biden and Burisma in 2020 in a months-long investigation, eventually releasing a report that found no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president. Republican senators argued, though, that Burisma work “cast a shadow” over the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
As Hunter Biden has returned to the headlines, Trump has rekindled interest in him as well, causing new headaches for Republicans as they pursue other actions.
In a recent interview, Trump said that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is more than a month into an invasion of Ukraine, should release information on an unproven claim that Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million payment from the former wife of an ex-mayor of Moscow.
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia’s government under Putin worked to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the 2016 presidential race, and to help Trump.
Trump’s 2019 request that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “do us a favor” and investigate the Bidens led to Trump’s first impeachment. Trump was not convicted in the Senate.
“My message to Putin is he needs to go,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has remained close to Trump since he left office last year, said last week when asked about the former president’s comments.
Asked if he thought it was appropriate, Graham added: “That would not be something that I would do, no.”
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