A former business partner of Hunter Biden testified that the president's son used the Biden "brand" to his advantage while working for Ukrainian energy company Burisma, according to lawmakers who were present during Monday's closed-door questioning.
Devon Archer, 49, answered questions for about four hours during a transcribed interview before the Republican-led House Oversight Committee, at one point telling members that Biden put his father on speakerphone during business meetings about 20 times, but not to talk to business, lawmakers said.
“The witness indicated that Hunter spoke to his father every day, and approximately 20 times over the course of 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,” Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., told reporters after the closed-door meeting. He said that included times when Hunter Biden was with friends, and times when he was with "potential business partners or business partners.”
“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 added.
The committee’s chair, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said Archer testified that Joe Biden "joined Hunter Biden’s dinners with his foreign business associates in person or by speakerphone over 20 times" and was put on the phone to sell “the brand.”
Comer said the testimony shows “Joe Biden lied to the American people when he said he had no knowledge about his son’s business dealings and was not involved. Joe Biden was ‘the brand’ that his son sold around the world to enrich the Biden family.”
Goldman said Archer at one point testified that the “brand” he was referring to was "Hunter’s own experience as a lobbyist and a lawyer in Washington, D.C. combined with the Biden name, which is of course no different than the Trump name or the Clinton name or any other big political family name.”
The committee has been investigating foreign payments to members of the Biden family during and after his time as vice president in the Obama administration. Republican lawmakers have alleged that Biden was involved in his son's business dealings, which the White House has denied.
Goldman said Archer "stated unequivocally" that "there is no evidence in his possession or his knowledge that Joe Biden ever discussed business with Hunter Biden, Joe Biden ever did anything on behalf of Hunter Biden’s business interests or otherwise, never changed official policy in any way, shape or form."
He also said that Archer told the panel that Biden felt he had to give his employers "the illusion of access to his father."
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said Archer told the panel he didn't know anything about an alleged $5 million bribe to the family that a Burisma executive had mentioned to an FBI informant.
Biggs, however, said he still believes the president is compromised and told reporters, "I think we should do an impeachment inquiry."
Goldman called Biggs' assertion that Biden is compromised "completely absurd."
"The witness repeated over and over and over again that President Biden never discussed any business dealings of Hunter’s with Hunter or anyone else. He repeated over and over again that he never did anything in consideration, official policy or otherwise, in consideration of whatever Hunter’s business interests were. So I have a lot of respect for Congressman Biggs, but that’s just a flat out lie."
Attorneys for Hunter Biden have not commented on Archer's testimony.
Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House counsel’s office, said in a statement that “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. House Republicans keep promising bombshell evidence to support their ridiculous attacks against the President, but time after time, they keep failing to produce any. In fact, even their own witnesses appear to be debunking their allegations.”
Archer was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy involving a different company in June of 2018. A New York federal court judge sentenced him to a year and a day in prison last year, but stayed the sentence pending an appeal. The federal appeals court denied his bid last week.
Federal prosecutors who brought the case recently asked the judge overseeing the case to set a sentencing date, prompting some conservatives to claim that the Justice Department was trying to intimidate Archer ahead of Monday's congressional testimony.
The same prosecutors, in a court filing Sunday night, said: "To be clear, the Government does not request (and has never requested) that the defendant surrender before his Congressional testimony.”