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House Republicans issue criminal referrals for James and Hunter Biden, alleging they lied to Congress

Witness testimony in Hunter Biden trial
Witness testimony begins in Hunter Biden gun trial 03:36

Washington — The Republican leaders of the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Biden sent criminal referrals to the Justice Department on Wednesday recommending charges against Hunter Biden and James Biden for making false statements to Congress.

The GOP chairmen of the Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means panels claimed the lies from Hunter Biden, the president's son, and James Biden, his brother, implicate Mr. Biden's role in what Republicans have alleged is an effort to profit off his family's overseas business dealings while he was vice president.

The president has denied any wrongdoing, and the House GOP's investigation has yet to yield any evidence of improper conduct by Mr. Biden. The president's son and brother also both told lawmakers that Mr. Biden had no involvement in their foreign business dealings. The Justice Department declined to comment on the referrals. 

"Hunter Biden and James Biden made provably false statements to the Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Committee about key aspects of the impeachment inquiry, in what appears to be a conscious effort to hinder the investigation's focus on President Joe Biden," Oversight Committee chairman James Comer, Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan and Ways and Means Committee chairman Jason Smith wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and special counsel David Weiss.

Weiss was appointed special counsel last August to oversee the Justice Department's investigation into Hunter Biden. He has brought tax and gun charges against the president's son, and Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty. A trial in the case stemming from Hunter Biden's purchase of a firearm while he was a drug user began this week in Delaware

Hunter Biden arrives at the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 5, 2024, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Hunter Biden arrives at the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 5, 2024, in Wilmington, Delaware.  Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight committee, criticized Republicans for their investigation, calling it a "spectacular failure."

"After collecting 3.8 million pages of documents and more than 80 hours of testimony from 19 witnesses, they throw up their hands and confess that they have no evidence of any wrongdoing, much less a high crime and misdemeanor by President Biden," Raskin said in a statement. "This agonizingly protracted and completely fruitless investigation has proven only that President Biden was not part of, did not profit from, and took no official actions to benefit his family members' business ventures."

The Maryland Democrat said the letter from Jordan, Comer and Smith is a "last-ditch effort to distract from the exoneration of President Biden by offering 'gotcha' accusations against the president's son and brother based on their efforts to recollect years-old financial transactions, text messages, and conversations in the course of this interminable fishing expedition."

Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement that by opening and announcing investigations into James Biden and Hunter Biden, Garland can show that he is not "running a two-tiered system of justice and targeting the president's political opponents." Republicans have claimed that charges brought against former President Donald Trump are politically motivated, though there is no evidence to support their accusation.

"False testimony to the U.S. Congress is a felony, and Chairmen Comer, Smith and Jordan have compiled the evidence," Johnson said. "These false statements directly relate to the president's involvement in his family's foreign influence peddling, which is at the heart of the House's impeachment inquiry."

The criminal referrals

The referrals for prosecution arose from a transcribed interview lawmakers conducted with James Biden on Feb. 21 and a closed-door deposition with Hunter Biden on Feb. 28. 

Republicans claimed Hunter Biden "falsely distanced himself" from a firm called Rosemont Seneca Bohai, LLC, and lied about whether he held positions there. They said the committees received documents showing Hunter Biden was the firm's corporate secretary. Republicans also alleged the president's son told lawmakers an "entirely fictitious account" regarding text messages he sent to a Chinese business partner that mentioned his father was present with him at the time the messages were drafted.

The referral for the president's brother stems from his alleged testimony that Mr. Biden didn't meet with one of Hunter Biden's business partners in 2017, which Republicans claimed was contradicted by the business partner, Tony Bobulinski, as well as Hunter Biden.

"The nature of these false statements is not lost on the Committees: every instance implicates Joe Biden's knowledge of and role in his family's influence peddling," Comer, Jordan and Smith wrote.

They claimed that the allegedly false testimony is part of a "conscious, calculated effort to insulate Joe Biden from the duly authorized impeachment inquiry."

Republicans have been investigating alleged wrongdoing by the president and his family for more than a year, but their impeachment inquiry, which the GOP-led House voted to formalize in December, has largely stalled. 

Hunter Biden's deposition was the culmination of a contentious effort by Republicans to secure his testimony, one that  was marked by instances of defiance by the president's son. The Oversight and Judiciary Committees advanced resolutions in January recommending Hunter Biden be held in contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a congressional subpoena to answer questions behind closed doors. 

Hunter Biden, along with his lawyer, briefly appeared at the hearing convened by lawmakers to debate the contempt resolution, throwing it into chaos. The subpoena had called for the president's son to appear before lawmakers on Dec. 13, and he did show up to Capitol Hill on that date. But instead of participating in the deposition, Hunter Biden delivered a statement that lambasted Republicans and their investigation.

"Let me state as clearly as I can: my father was not financially involved in my business, not as a practicing lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not in my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home nor abroad, and certainly not as an artist," Hunter Biden said.

He accused Republicans of leading an "illegitimate" investigation based on "distortions, manipulated evidence and lies."

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