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House GOP seeks Biden family 'suspicious activity reports' from Treasury

Newly minted House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer renewed his request for the private documents, noting that he's in charge now.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., speaks at the Capitol on Jan. 9, 2023.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., speaks Monday at the Capitol. Graeme Sloan / Sipa USA via AP

WASHINGTON — House Republicans asked the Treasury Department Wednesday to turn over documents related to the business ventures of President Joe Biden's family members, including "suspicious activity reports" connected to Biden's son Hunter Biden and brother James Biden.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., wrote that his panel is investigating "President Biden’s involvement in his family’s foreign business practices and international influence peddling schemes" and will consider drafting legislation to restrict the activities of elected officials' families.

Yellen denied a similar ask for documents last year, but Comer's party has since won the majority in the House.

"I now make these requests pursuant to my authority as chairman," he wrote.

The shoes are on different feet for both parties after House Democrats fought for four years — all the way up to the Supreme Court — to obtain information from former President Donald Trump's administration.

Ian Sams, a White House spokesman on investigations, derided the letter as partisan gamesmanship.

"In their first week as a governing majority, House Republicans have not taken any meaningful action to address inflation and lower Americans’ costs, yet they’re jumping out of the gate with political stunts driven by the most extreme MAGA members of their caucus in an effort to get attention on Fox News," Sams said. "The president is going to continue focusing on the important issues the American people want their leaders to work together on, and we hope House Republicans will join him.” 

Neither Hunter Biden nor James Biden have been charged with any crimes related to their business practices, but both of have long been under scrutiny for what critics describe as a pattern of trading on Joe Biden’s name in ways that could compromise him. And Hunter Biden is under investigation by federal prosecutors in Delaware.

Trump and congressional Republicans have called on the Justice Department to prosecute Hunter Biden for a variety of alleged misdeeds. In 2019, the House impeached Trump after he temporarily blocked aid to Ukraine as a means of pressuring Kyiv into opening an investigation into Joe Biden, his main rival in the 2020 presidential election, and Hunter Biden.

In Wednesday's letter, Comer asked Treasury for records of suspicious activity reports related to Biden family members and their business associates. Federal law requires financial institutions to file private reports (SARs) when they detect unusual transactions that could be signs of illegal activity. FinCen, the Treasury agency tasked with tracking SARs, received more than 3 million of them in 2022 alone, according to a search of its database.

Comer also asked for records of any interactions among executive branch agencies and the White House regarding the Bidens and their business partners, among executive branch agencies and financial institutions involving the same people and any changes to SARs policy since Biden took office.

In addition to Hunter Biden and James Biden, the letter names Sara Biden, James Biden's wife and President Biden's sister-in-law, and Biden family business associates Rob Walker, Eric Schwerin and Devon Archer.