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Six questions the Biden impeachment inquiry must still answer

Two witnesses poised to provide answers to some of the outstanding questions in the impeachment inquiry are set to appear before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday in one of the first public hearings to date, though Hunter Biden and Devon Archer have declined their invitations.

Published: March 19, 2024 11:02pm

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee will hold one of its first public hearings in its impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden as several key questions remain open and unanswered by the broader investigation.

Yet, the committee may struggle to get answers, as the most important witnesses, including Hunter Biden, have refused to appear for the scheduled hearing.

Hunter Biden and three of his ex-business partners were invited to testify publicly about their closed door interviews and “discrepancies” in interviews conducted to date.

After he adamantly requested a public hearing, Hunter Biden has now reversed course, telling the committee he would not appear at the March 20 public hearing. His lawyer cited a “scheduling conflict” with Hunter Biden’s upcoming court date in California where he is charged with nine counts of tax violations. Biden’s lawyer also expressed concerns about the partisan nature of the inquiry.

Devon Archer, who was a close business associate of Hunter Biden over the course of his foreign dealings, has also declined to testify at the public hearing, NBC News reported.

Jason Galanis, who is currently serving a sentence for a fraudulent tribal bonds scheme, has made efforts in conjunction with the committee to testify virtually from his Alabama prison. Reports indicate Oversight Chairman James Comer requested and received permission from Majority Leader Steve Scalise for Galanis to testify remotely.

A source familiar confirmed to Just the News Tony Bobulinski will also appear at the hearing.

Despite the first son’s and one of his key partners’ absences, there are several questions still remaining in the impeachment inquiry that need answering, some of which, Galanis and Bobulinski cannot answer alone.

Did Hunter Biden intentionally set up ventures to serve as a conduit of “access” to his father?

Emails obtained by Just the News earlier this month show a Chinese businessman who partnered with Hunter Biden’s Burnham firm was primarily motivated by access rather than financial consideration. This is bolstered by the closed door testimony by Galanis, who told the committee “The entire value-add of Hunter Biden to our business was his family name and his access to his father, Vice President Joe Biden.”

The emails show Henry Zhao—owner of Harvest Fund Management, which would partner with Burnham and Hunter Biden—was interested in the partnership because of the “access” the firm could provide him the political family.

“[During] yesterday's meeting Hunter underlined the value of being cautiously conservative in valuation as Henry believes in this first and foremost as an access vehicle with potential for future growth,” one employee wrote in an email.

In late February, impeachment witness Jason Galanis—one of Hunter Biden’s partners in the Burnham venture—told Congress the firm served as a place to integrate the “Biden Family Office” with a “large-scale financial company” to this end.

Yet, questions remain about Hunter Biden’s motivations and participation in setting up this venture, and others, as a vehicle for access to his family name. The Biden family and White House have long claimed Hunter Biden was engaged in traditional business deals, but congressional investigators dispute this. For example, Chairman Comer has questioned what product Biden’s myriad businesses were offering in exchange for millions in compensation.

Did Hunter Biden propose a role for his father in the Burnham deal?

In his testimony before the Oversight Committee, Galanis further made clear why Zhao was so eager to partner with Hunter Biden and his associates despite having the backing from some of the largest financial firms in China.

“Mr. Zhao was interested in this partnership because of the game-changing value add of the Biden family, including Joe Biden, who was to be a member of the Burnham-Harvest team post-vice presidency, providing political access in the United States and around the world,” Galanis said in his opening statement.

The prospect of Joe Biden joining the firm after the end of his vice presidency was attractive for the Chinese businessman. The team further planned to emphasize this expectation to Zhao, evidence of which is found in a draft email the team planned to have Hunter Biden send him, Just the News reported.

Galanis is poised to answer further questions in the committee’s public hearing about the discussions surrounding Joe Biden’s potential involvement the deal.

Should Hunter Biden have registered under FARA for meetings with State Department officials in the Dmitri Firtash case?

Galanis further testified that Hunter Biden sought nearly $5 million for an effort to quash a U.S. indictment of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitri Firtash when his father, Joe Biden, was in charge of U.S. policy on Ukraine, confirming earlier reporting by Just the News. His reported meetings with at least one State Department official raises questions about whether Hunter Biden was required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Firtash is a controversial Ukrainian figure who was indicted by the Obama-Biden Justice Department in 2014 over corruption allegations. His high-powered lawyers have argued that the U.S. charges against Firtash are unwarranted.

Hunter Biden also told the Oversight Committee Firtash, who was closely connected to the state-owned gas company in Ukraine, was tied to Russia—citing it as one of the reasons he joined the board of Burisma.

In his closed door testimony, Hunter Biden was not asked about his alleged work for Firtash, which has been confirmed now by two witnesses: by Galanis to impeachment investigators and by Firtash’s right-hand man, Hares Youssef to Just the News in 2021.

Biden’s effort to assist Firtash took place in 2015 and Hunter Biden reportedly met with at least one State Department official about the matter, Just the News previously reported. Firtash’s lawyer expressed concerns at the time that Biden may have to registered under FARA for his efforts. Although he was indicted 10 years ago, Firtash remains in Austria where he has been fighting against extradition to the U.S.

What was Hunter Biden’s role in the sensitive CEFC bid to acquire Westinghouse?

While his father was still vice president, Hunter Biden and his business partners tried unsuccessfully to help a Chinese energy firm—CEFC China Energy—acquire one of the United States’ premier nuclear technology companies in a secret attempt to "control" the global market, Just the News reported last week.

“In summary, utilising (sic) the U.S. face of Westinghouse, combined with the economic power of CEFC (China) is the perfect solution to control this global sector,” Hunter Biden partner James Gilliar wrote to CEFC in a strategy memo.

The goal was to free China’s nuclear energy market from Western domination as well as to open the possibility for CEFC to export nuclear technology around the world, securing the global market for China, according to corporate reports and emails reviewed by Just the News.

Though the deal was never consummated, to date, Hunter Biden has not answered any questions related to the national security-sensitive Westinghouse deal. Only one former partner, Rob Walker, addressed the deal in his testimony, though he provided few details about the planned acquisition. Walker did testify the CEFC officials he and his partner Gilliar were working with viewed the future first son as the “principal” of their organization.

Did Joe Biden properly report his free bookkeeping services from Hunter Biden partner Eric Schwerin?

In a newly released transcript on Monday Hunter Biden’s ex-business partner Eric Schwerin confirmed he provided financial services to Joe Biden free of charge—including preparing documents for his accountants and helping to pay bills—from 2009 to 2016.

This arrangement appears to be absent from then-Vice President Biden’s financial disclosures, which may raise further questions in the House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into the president and his opaque relationships with his son's business partners. For his part, Biden has repeatedly denied having any relationship with his son's businesses or his son's partners.

“Well, I mean, I looked at it as doing a favor for a friend, and this was very different from the work that we did on a daily basis with Rosemont Seneca Advisors, and as I said, it didn't take that much time,” Schwerin said when asked about why he performed the service without compensation, according to the transcript.

This free financial services could raise ethics concerns related to the then-vice president’s financial disclosures. A review by Just the News found that not one of the seven disclosures filed by Joe Biden during his terms in office and publicly posted by the Obama administration report Schwerin’s free services as a gift—a classification a former ethics lawyer told Just the News would likely be necessary if certain conditions were met.

Did Joe Biden actually loan money to his brother?

The Oversight Committee’s findings of one loan repayment from presidential brother James Biden to Joe Biden in late 2017 has been contradicted by Schwerin.

In his testimony, Schwerin, who helped prepare Joe Biden's taxes free of charge, told congressional investigators that he never saw any loans to family members, which raises fresh questions about payments from family members to Joe Biden uncovered by the House Oversight Committee in their impeachment investigation.

Schwerin told investigators he helped with the elder Biden’s taxes from 2009 until 2016 and continued to help with household finances through 2017—the year the committee documents the first “loan repayment” from Joe Biden’s brother, James.

In early September 2017, Joe Biden received a $40,000 check from his sister-in-law, Sarah Biden, directly from his brother’s personal account which was marked as a loan repayment, according to a committee report. The Oversight Committee traced these funds from a Chinese company affiliated with CEFC China Energy, to Hunter Biden’s account, to James Biden, whose wife sent his brother, Joe, a check from their personal account.

This account highlights a discrepancy between claims from the White House spokesman and the then-vice president’s bookkeeper.

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