Sept 28 (Reuters) – Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives hold their first hearing on Thursday in an impeachment inquiry into Democratic President Joe Biden after months of investigations of his son Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings. They have not found any evidence of misconduct by Biden himself.
The White House says Biden has done nothing wrong and Republicans have no basis for an impeachment inquiry.
Following is some of the evidence that has come to light:
Republicans have accused Biden of profiting from his son’s business dealings while serving as vice president between 2009 and 2017.
Devon Archer, a business associate of Hunter Biden, told the committee that Hunter Biden sought to create “an illusion of access to his father” and put his father on the phone with foreign associates “maybe 20 times” over the course of about 10 years.
Archer said those conversations did not involve any business dealings and he was not aware of any wrongdoing by the elder Biden.
Republicans have pointed to an FBI document from 2020 in which an informant claims the head of Burisma, a Ukrainian company that included Hunter Biden on its board of directors, said: “it cost 5 (million) to pay one Biden, and 5 (million) to another Biden.”
According to Representative Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, the FBI dropped the matter after determining there was no evidence to back it up.
The head of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, told the panel that nobody from the company had any contact with Joe Biden or his staff and that the elder Biden did not help the firm.
Archer told the committee that he was not aware of any such payments. Another Hunter Biden associate, Eric Schwerin, also told the panel that he was not aware of any financial involvement by Joe Biden in his relatives’ businesses.
Republicans on the Oversight Committee also say they have records of $20 million in payments from foreign sources to Biden family members and their business associates. A Washington Post fact check found that $7 million of that money went to Biden family members, most of it to Hunter, and none went to Joe Biden.
PRESSURING UKRAINE’S PROSECUTOR
While serving as vice president, Biden pressured Ukraine to remove its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
Republicans and Shokin have separately said Biden was trying to protect Burisma and Hunter Biden from a possible corruption investigation.
Biden’s actions reflected the official policy of Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration, which had concluded Shokin was not doing enough to fight corruption. The European Union and the International Monetary Foundation also backed Shokin’s removal on those grounds.
U.S. foreign policy officials have testified that Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma did not influence the government’s decision to seek Shokin’s ouster.
Government records released by House Democrats show that U.S. officials criticized Shokin for not bringing corruption charges against Burisma.
Ukraine’s president at time, Petro Poroshenko, told Fox News Channel that there is “no one single word of truth” in Shokin’s claim that he was ousted because he refused to investigate Burisma.
A 2020 investigation by Senate Republicans found that U.S. diplomats viewed Hunter Biden’s involvement with Burisma as “very awkward” while they were pushing an anticorruption agenda. The investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing by the then-vice president.
Hunter Biden, who has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, has been under federal investigation since 2019.
A proposed agreement that would have had him plead guilty to tax and firearms charges was rejected by a judge in July and U.S. Special Prosecutor David Weiss has said he intends to file new charges by the end of the month.
An IRS agent told the Oversight Committee that the Justice Department repeatedly stonewalled the probe.
But Weiss, a Trump appointee who has led the investigation, has said the Justice Department has not interfered. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel in August to give him more authority and independence.
A former FBI agent who worked on the probe told the Oversight Committee that he was not aware of any political interference in the case, though he said he was frustrated by a decision by higher-ups to block an interview with Hunter Biden in December 2020, shortly after Biden won the presidency.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Makini Brice; Editing by Scott Malone, Alistair Bell and Rosalba O’Brien