House GOP prepares to sharpen focus on Hunter Biden business dealings
House Republicans are wasting little time jumping headfirst into probes involving the business dealings of President Biden’s son Hunter Biden and the Biden family if they win a majority in next week’s midterm elections.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, the panel set to lead the probes if the GOP formally takes control of the chamber next year, are planning a press conference about their investigation into the Bidens the week after the election.
Their goal is to question whether President Biden’s leadership has been impacted by his family’s business dealings — and to steer clear of the more salacious content on the infamous hard drive that belonged to Hunter Biden, a recovering drug addict.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), ranking member on the House Oversight Committee who is likely to chair the panel in a GOP majority, has long been preparing for hearings and advancing investigations into the Biden family businesses. Republican staff members on the panel have a copy of Hunter Biden’s hard drive and have been poring over it for months.
Comer, in a statement to The Hill, blasted the Biden family for alleged influence peddling and raised concerns about the deals conflicting with U.S. interests.
“If Joe Biden is compromised by his family’s business schemes, it is a threat to our national security,” Comer said.
The White House declined to comment on the House GOP probes, but the Biden campaign in 2020 said the then-candidate “has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever.”
Hunter Biden and Biden family business activities have been a longtime focus of Republicans on Capitol Hill, the right-wing media and former President Trump, whose request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine led to Trump’s first impeachment.
There has also been longtime interest in Hunter Biden across the Capitol.
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has made several floor speeches about Biden family business dealings, and has sent letters alleging that he has received information from whistleblowers about the family’s business activities.
Democrats on the Hill have dismissed the GOP probe as part of a larger obsession with the Biden family. House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y) has previously called GOP efforts “nakedly partisan.”
But in a House GOP majority, Republicans would have more power to probe new lines of interest about the family’s business matters, and potentially put them on public display if the panel holds hearings as Comer has promised.
At the top of the GOP to-do list on the matter is obtaining suspicious activity reports from the Treasury Department connected to transactions from the president’s son and his associates.
CBS News reported in April that U.S. banks flagged for review more than 150 financial transactions related to the business affairs of either Hunter or James Biden, the president’s brother.
The reports do not necessarily mean illegal activity occurred, as Republicans have sometimes suggested, and only a small percentage of the millions of reports from banks filed each year lead to law enforcement investigations.
Banks are required to file suspicious activity reports about transfers of amounts of at least $5,000, or $2,000 for money services businesses, if there is reason to suspect the funds came from illegal activity. They must also file currency transaction reports for any transaction exceeding $10,000.
But Republicans on the House Oversight Committee argue more information on the transactions are needed to know whether President Biden financially benefited from his family’s business transactions, alleging that the possibility could create national security concerns.
Meanwhile, few, if any, House Republicans have expressed much in the way of national security concerns when it came to Trump’s company business dealings while he was in the White House. And when an FBI search uncovered classified documents, some marked top secret, from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in possible violation of the Espionage Act, Republicans expressed more concern about alleged politicization of the Justice Department than about national security.
The Treasury Department in September denied requests from House Oversight Republicans to provide the reports on the Biden family. Comer has promised to use the power that comes with the committee gavel to obtain them should his party gain the majority next year.
Republicans have multiple areas they are interested in regarding the Biden family businesses, including dealings with a Chinese energy conglomerate and whether that relationship created any conflicts of interest with President Biden.
A Washington Post investigation of Hunter Biden’s arrangement with CEFC China Energy found no evidence that President Biden personally benefited from the transactions or knew about the details, though House Republicans think there is information that indicates otherwise.
There has already been outside interest from the right wing in the House Oversight GOP probe.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to create a House select committee dedicated to investigating Biden business dealings. Conservative commentator and former Trump White House adviser Sebastian Gorka has offered to be staff director of the theoretical committee.
But there is no sign McCarthy would create a special panel, and Comer has asked Republicans to give the Oversight committee a chance to roll out its planned hearings.
An investigation by the FBI that is reportedly being reviewed by prosecutors could bring more focus and heat onto Hunter Biden if any charges are made.
The Washington Post first reported last month that investigators believed that there was sufficient evidence to charge Hunter Biden with crimes relating to whether he did not declare income on various business ventures, and with making a false statement about his drug use on a federal form when he bought a handgun in 2018, when he has said he was actively using crack cocaine.
Attorneys for Hunter Biden did not respond to requests for comment.