- Republicans are itching to investigate Hunter Biden if they win the majority in 2022.
- There’s no evidence that his work influenced policy decisions while his father was vice president.
- GOP inquiries would force the White House to play whack-a-mole with Hunter Biden accusations.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Republicans are gearing up for a hot pursuit of Hunter Biden should they win a majority in Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.
They’re itching to investigate his international business dealings again, in hopes of uncovering evidence of wrongdoing that they can link back to his father, President Joe Biden, ahead of the next presidential election.
It could become the new Benghazi probe in a GOP-led Congress.
GOP lawmakers told Insider that they had lots of unanswered questions and were ready to flex their oversight power if voters put them in a position to lead investigations again.
“There’s no shortage of areas to investigate when it comes to potential wrongdoings with Hunter Biden,” said Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s ranking Republican. Comer would be favored to take over the chairmanship of the panel should the GOP win back the House.
Republicans say they want to know more about Hunter Biden’s ties to China and to the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who has been one of the most vocal Republicans about Hunter Biden, told Insider that information about the president’s son would have affected the outcome of the 2020 election “had it not been for the censorship and suppression by the media.”
There’s information “out there that, had Biden voters known about Hunter Biden, enough of them would not have voted for Biden; he would not be president,” said Johnson, who led the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the last Congress.
Johnson has this year sent at least four letters to federal law-enforcement and intelligence agencies demanding answers on different Hunter Biden allegations, including about ties to “foreign nationals connected to the communist Chinese government”; unethical links to a Biden administration Justice Department appointee; and an incident said to involve a firearm.
Johnson’s office did not say whether he’d received responses from the agencies; Insider reached out to them for comment. The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives declined to comment. Others did not immediately respond.
Should Republicans win the majority in Congress in 2022 — a distinct possibility, given that a president’s party typically loses seats in midterm elections and that the Senate now is evenly divided — they would set an oversight agenda focused on making it difficult for Joe Biden or another Democrat to win in the next presidential election.
They would be trying to nail the Democratic president on his immigration policies and on the origins of COVID-19, they said. But Hunter Biden is also on their front burner. They would have a ready platform in conservative news organizations such as Fox News, the Daily Mail, and the New York Post that have been covering Hunter Biden relentlessly, and that would almost certainly ratchet things up closer to 2024 if Joe Biden were on the ticket.
Comer said Hunter Biden’s dealings would be on Republicans’ top-10 list of priorities to explore.
He acknowledged that he didn’t know whether an investigation would lead back to the president but said that “that’s something that we need to find out.”
Such inquiries would force the White House to play whack-a-mole with Hunter Biden accusations if the president planned to run for a second term in 2024.
A well-worn GOP playbook
The playbook is well worn for Republicans. Their long investigation into the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi led to the discovery of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server and to transparency questions that dogged her failed presidential campaign.
Republicans hammering away at Hunter Biden controversies would create headaches for the White House, even if the attacks didn’t help former President Donald Trump in 2020. Trump’s first impeachment, in December 2019, centered on allegations that he’d tried to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into providing information on Burisma and the Bidens. Many of Trump’s statements about the topics have been debunked.
Democrats say that Republicans are chasing conspiracy theories and that reporters and fact-checkers have already found no wrongdoing by the president. No evidence has suggested that Hunter Biden’s work influenced policy decisions while his father was the vice president.
“For years now, Republicans made baseless attacks on Joe Biden’s family — and have come up with bupkis to show for it,” Eric Schultz, who was a deputy White House press secretary during the Obama administration, wrote in an email. “Sure, conservative media won’t let this go, but Republicans spending their energy pacifying the base over this fringe obsession is one of the reasons Democrats took the House, Senate, and White House last November.”
Sen. Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat and personal friend of Joe Biden, told Insider he’d advised the president to not look at the “rearview mirror” but to keep his focus on the issues he said voters care about, including building the economy and getting the country through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You know that saying about beating a dead horse; Republicans will keep beating that dead horse — I’ll mix metaphors — until the cows come home,” Carper said.
The White House and Hunter Biden’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.
During Trump’s years in the White House, Republicans ignored his refusal to release his tax returns and his family’s conflicts of interest abroad. But they say Hunter Biden’s work overseas and other controversies haven’t received the media attention they deserve and require more investigation.
“I think the country would like to know answers” to questions about Hunter Biden, Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and staunch Trump ally, told Insider. “Everyone in big tech and big media kept that information from the American people last year.” Jordan sits on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
A report published last year by the Senate’s homeland-security and finance committees said Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board was a “quandary” for US government officials in Ukraine and interfered in the “efficient execution of policy.” The report also pointed to “questionable” financial transactions. But The New York Times noted that the investigation had revealed no wrongdoing by his father.
Johnson said that report was “probably just the tip of the iceberg.”
“You see more and more stories, more and more financial entanglements,” Johnson told Insider at the Capitol. “Is that impacting how [Joe Biden] is treating Russia right now? Is that impacting how he may treat China?”
Hunter Biden revealed in December that federal prosecutors were investigating his taxes; CNN reported that investigators appeared to be focused on business activities tied to China. Documents related to Burisma reportedly were subpoenaed.
In his memoir, “Beautiful Things,” Hunter Biden wrote that he did “nothing unethical” and was never charged with wrongdoing in connection with his seat on Burisma’s board, which he joined in 2014.
He also wrote that he was an unpaid advisor in a partnership with a Chinese private-equity fund seeking to invest Chinese capital in companies outside the country. He said he hadn’t collected money from the transaction. He purchased a 10% stake in the company after his father left the vice presidency, he wrote.
During a debate last year, Joe Biden said that nothing about his son’s work in China or for Burisma was unethical and that as vice president he carried out US policy in Ukraine and “not one single solitary thing was out of line.”
Polls at the time suggested that voters cared less about the Hunter Biden story. In a Yahoo News/YouGov poll of registered voters in October, 46% said Hunter Biden was getting too much attention in the campaign, and 33% said he was getting too little. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, whose own family took its share of political attacks during the 2016 election cycle, told Axios that the Hunter Biden story didn’t move “a single voter.”
But Republicans appear to be making the calculation that it could now help them put one of their own in the White House in 2024.
During a recent oversight hearing on the Capitol insurrection, GOP Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia cited “the Hunter Biden laptop” and his business dealings in China among the topics he said he would have asked FBI Director Christopher Wray — who was appearing before the panel — about if he had more time.
The laptop reference goes back to a controversial New York Post story last fall about a computer, purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden, that was said to have incriminating information on it. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is under investigation by the Justice Department, played a coordinating role in that story. NBC News reported in October that the FBI was investigating whether details in the story about “smoking gun” emails were part of a foreign intelligence operation.
Comer has said that big tech must be held accountable for “censoring” the Post’s story.
“There’s a lot of things that have been thrown out there” online about Hunter Biden and the laptop, Ukraine, and his relationship with China, Comer said, “so we just look into all of that.”
This story first published on June 25, 2021.
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