By Annie Grayer, Alayna Treene, Jeremy Herb and Sara Murray, CNN
House Oversight Chairman James Comer laid out new details to support allegations that members of Joe Biden’s family including his son Hunter received millions of dollars in payments from foreign entities in China and Romania including when Biden was vice president, according to a memo obtained by CNN.
New bank records cited in the memo were obtained by the committee through a subpoena and include payments made to companies tied to Hunter Biden. Republicans also alleged that Hunter Biden used his familial connections to help facilitate a meeting in 2016 between a Serbian running for United Nations Secretary-General and then-national security adviser to the vice president Colin Kahl.
The foreign payments raise questions about Hunter Biden’s business activities while his father was vice president, but the committee does not suggest any illegality about the payments from foreign sources. The bank records by themselves also do not indicate the purpose of the payments that were made.
The memo marks Comer’s most direct attempt to substantiate his allegations that Biden family members have enriched themselves off the family name. Comer has suggested that Biden may have been improperly influenced by the financial dealings, particularly by his family’s foreign business partners.
But the latest report does not show any payments made directly to Joe Biden, either as vice president or after leaving office.
Comer has been publicly teasing information for months about the paper trail committee Republicans have uncovered through subpoenas sent to multiple banks and trips to the Treasury Department to review records.
Comer and other Republicans on the committee held a press conference Wednesday morning to tout their findings.
“These people didn’t come to Hunter Biden because he understood world politics or that he was experienced in it, or that he understood Chinese businesses. They wanted him for the access his last name gave him,” Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, said during the news conference.
On Wednesday, Comer was asked about specific policy decisions Biden made while president or vice president that may have been directly influenced by these foreign payments. Comer failed to name any and instead pointed to then-vice president Biden traveling around the world and discussing foreign aid in the last year of the Obama administration, and added they think there are decisions Biden made as president that “put China first and America last.” Comer said the committee “will get into more of those later.”
Ahead of the memo’s release, White House spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement to CNN, “Congressman Comer has a history of playing fast and loose with the facts and spreading baseless innuendo while refusing to conduct his so-called ‘investigations’ with legitimacy. He has hidden information from the public to selectively leak and promote his own hand-picked narratives as part of his overall effort to lob personal attacks at the President and his family.”
Abbe Lowell, counsel for Hunter Biden, said in a statement, “Today’s so-called “revelations” are retread, repackaged misstatements of perfectly proper meetings and business by private citizens. Instead of redoing old investigations that found no evidence of wronging by Mr. Biden, Rep. Comer should do the same examination of the many entities of former President Trump and his family members.”
The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin, said in a statement to CNN, “Chairman Comer has failed to provide factual evidence to support his wild accusations about the President. He continues to bombard the public with innuendo, misrepresentations, and outright lies, recycling baseless claims from stories that were debunked years ago.”
Payments from a Romanian business associate
Bank records cited in the committee’s memo show that within five weeks of then-Vice President Biden’s meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in 2015, a Romanian who Hunter Biden was doing legal consulting for, Gabriel Popoviciu, started sending money to Rob Walker, a business associate of Hunter’s.
Walker received more than $3 million from November 2015 to May 2017 and wired approximately $1 million in various installments to Hunter Biden, his business associate James Gillian, and Hallie Biden, the widow of the president’s oldest son, Beau Biden who died in May 2015. Hallie Biden and Hunter Biden were romantically involved for a period after Beau’s death.
Comer’s memo raises questions about why Popoviciu was paying a Biden family business associate directly instead of the law firm where Hunter Biden worked at the time or the other firm Hunter reportedly referred Popoviciu to.
Former President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani was also involved with Popoviciu, which Comer’s memo does not mention.
Committee Republicans obtained the bank records from subpoenas to four different banks.
Meeting with a Biden aide
The report also alleges that in 2016, Vuk Jeremic, a Serbian politician who was running for UN secretary-general, tried to use his business relationship with Hunter Biden and his associates to get a meeting with Kahl, who was then an aide in Biden’s vice president’s office.
In a June 2016 email, Jeremic wrote to Hunter Biden and a business associate, Eric Schwerin, asking to “meet with VPOTUS National Security Advisor Colin Kahl” related to the UN secretary-general election.
Schwerin instructed Hunter Biden to “Think about how you want to respond,” according to the report.
In a July 2016 email, Jeremic followed up via email saying, “[m]y meeting with Colin did not last very long, but didn’t go too bad, I think. What is suboptimal is that OVP seems to be outside the decision-making loop on the UNSG elections issue. Colin promised to get better informed on what’s going on at the moment,” according to the report.
Republicans said they intend to pursue more communications related to the matter, but concluded it appears that “a Biden administration official met with Jeremic to discuss the UN Secretary General election at the direction of Hunter Biden and/or his business associates.”
Kahl did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Jeremic’s attorneys told the committee in a letter last month he would not cooperate with a request for documents and testimony due to separation of powers issues and because House rules limit subpoenas to people “within the United States.”
Payments from Chinese nationals
The memo also alleges that two Chinese nationals made payments of $100,000 to Hunter Biden’s professional corporation through a Chinese-backed energy company. Republicans claim that at least one of those individuals had ties to the Communist Party of China. These transactions, as well as Hunter Biden’s relationship with a Chinese-backed energy company once his father left the VP’s office, have long been known.
The memo alleges that the two Chinese nationals were connected to CEFC, a Chinese energy conglomerate that had a business relationship with Hunter Biden.
Committee Republicans claim one of the individuals “used CEFC to bribe and corruptly influence foreign officials.”
The memo includes a copy of a bank transaction showing that on August 4, 2017, CEFC Infrastructure wired $100,000 to Owasco P.C, Hunter Biden’s professional corporation.
The memo also includes details from the bank records on how money was moved between companies, including a $100,000 payment to one of Hunter Biden’s companies that was then funded by a Chinese based firm tied to CEFC.
Comer alleges the transaction “disproves President Biden’s claim that his family received no money from China.”
In the report, the committee acknowledges there “exist legitimate commercial transactions with China-based entities and individuals.”
“However, the pattern of behavior engaged in by the Bidens and their Chinese counterparties—memorialized in relevant bank records—signals an attempt to layer companies and cloud the source of money,” the committee alleges.
Comer has previously revealed that members of Biden’s family received just over $1 million indirectly from State Energy HK Limited, a Chinese company.
Senate Republicans in 2020 first detailed how Walker made wire transfers to companies associated with Hunter Biden and president’s brother, James, after receiving a $3 million wire from the Chinese company.
The latest GOP memo claims Walker also sent some of that money to Hallie Biden and an unknown bank account identified as “Biden.”
Committee makes its legislative case
Committee Republicans said they are continuing to trace bank records and have written to additional witnesses involved in certain transactions to request documents as well as interviews.
According to the report, Republicans intend to pursue legislative changes — a key step needed to justify their investigation if fights over subpoenas head to court.
Those changes include laws that require additional reporting about the finances of a president or vice president’s family members, public disclosure of foreign transactions involving the family members of senior elected officials and an expedited law enforcement review of any suspicious bank activity reports related to a president or vice president’s immediately family members.
Comer left the door open on whether his committee would investigate the foreign business dealings of former President Donald Trump and his family ahead of making any legislative recommendations to address influence peddling. To date however, Comer has not looked into Trump’s financial dealings or pursued an investigation into the classified documents that he had at Mar-a-Lago.
“We’re going to look at everything when we get ready to introduce the legislation to ban influence peddling” Comer said. “This has been a pattern for a long time. Republicans and Democrats have both complained about Presidents’ families receiving money.”
On the foreign business dealings of Trump’s son-in law, Jared Kushner, specifically, Comer said, “I’m not saying whether I agreed with what he did or not, but I actually know what his businesses are. What are the Biden businesses?”
This story has been updated with additional reporting.
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