Washington — Devon Archer, a former business partner of Hunter Biden, gave details about calls between President Biden and his son as he testified to the House Oversight Committee about his business dealings with the younger Biden on Monday. But Republicans and Democrats were at odds over the meaning of those calls.
Archer served alongside Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, beginning in 2014, while the elder Biden was vice president and deeply involved in Ukraine policy. Archer is widely believed to have facilitated Hunter Biden's entry onto Burisma's board.
House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer said Archer testified that the value of adding Hunter Biden to Burisma's board was "the brand" and said that the then-vice president brought the most value to "the brand." He also testified that Burisma would have gone under if not for "the brand," Comer said, adding that the elder Biden was put on the phone to sell "the brand."
But Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman disputed the GOP characterization of Archer's interview, telling reporters the witness was "very, very consistent that none of those conversations ever had to do with any business dealings or transactions."
"They were purely what he called casual conversation," he said.
Archer also testified that Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone during business meetings more than 20 times, according to Comer.
Archer's interview is the latest development in the GOP's investigations into Hunter Biden as Republicans seek to tie his controversial business dealings to the president.
The White House has repeatedly denied that the president had any involvement in his son's business ventures. White House spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement Monday that House Republicans' "own witnesses appear to be debunking their allegations."
"It appears that the House Republicans' own much-hyped witness today testified that he never heard of President Biden discussing business with his son or his son's associates, or doing anything wrong," he said. "House Republicans keep promising bombshell evidence to support their ridiculous attacks against the President, but time after time, they keep failing to produce any."
Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell said Archer's testimony confirms that he "did not involve his father in, nor did his father assist him in, his business" and that any interaction between Hunter Biden's father and business associates "was simply to exchange small talk."
"Like the relatives of Donald Trump, Senators Ron Johnson, and Ted Cruz, Rep. Lauren Boebert, and many others, family members of elected representatives meet people and may get opportunities because of those connections," Lowell's statement said. "Congress would be busy investigating many of their own if that's their idea of an offense."
Goldman told reporters that there's "no connection" between the president and his son's business dealings.
"The witness indicated that Hunter spoke to his father every day," Goldman said. "And approximately 20 times over the course of [a] 10-year relationship, Hunter may have put his father on the phone with any number of different people, and they never once spoke about any business dealings. As he described it, it was all casual conversation, niceties, the weather, 'what's going on?' There wasn't a single conversation about any of the business dealings that Hunter had."
Goldman said Archer testified that what Hunter Biden was selling was the illusion of access to his father.
"His exact testimony was that Hunter Biden possessed actual experience and contacts in Washington, D.C., in the political sphere, in the lobbying sphere, in the executive branch, and that that is ultimately what he was providing to Burisma," Goldman said. "But in return for pressure from Burisma, he had to give the illusion — he used that term, the illusion — of access to his father, and he tried to get credit for things that he, that Mr. Archer testified Hunter had nothing to do with, such as when Vice President Biden went to Ukraine on his own."
The Oversight Committee has sought information on any possible involvement from the president in his son's foreign business deals for months.to Archer's attorney in June, Oversight Committee chairman James Comer said Archer "played a significant role in the Biden family's business deals abroad, including but not limited to China, Russia, and Ukraine."
"Additionally, while undertaking these ventures with the Biden family, your client met with then-Vice President Biden on multiple occasions, including in the White House," the letter said.
Archer was convicted in 2018 of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud for his role in a scheme to defraud a Native American tribe and multiple pension funds. His conviction was overturned later that year, and U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abram wrote in her decision she was "left with an unwavering concern that Archer is innocent of the crimes charged."
The conviction was later reinstated by a federal appeals court. Archer lost an appeal of that decision. He has not yet been sentenced.
The Justice Department asked a judge over the weekend to set a surrender date, prompting Republicans to accuse the Biden administration of seeking to prevent Archer from testifying. The Justice Department wrote in a subsequent court filing that it "does not request (and has never requested) that the defendant surrender before his congressional testimony."
— Ellis Kim and Michael Kaplan contributed reporting.
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