WASHINGTON — Hunter Biden’s business associate, Devon Archer, testified before the House Oversight Committee that he has no knowledge that then-Vice President Joe Biden changed U.S. foreign policy to help his son and that he's not aware of any wrongdoing by the elder Biden, according to transcripts of his testimony released Thursday.
“I have no basis to know if he altered policy to benefit his son. … I have no knowledge,” Archer testified in the closed-door hearing earlier this week.
One of the GOP’s key witnesses in its investigation into the Bidens, Archer told lawmakers that Hunter Biden repeatedly used the Joe Biden “brand” to protect Burisma "so people would be intimidated to mess with them" legally and politically. But he quickly added: "On this line of questioning, I have no, like, proof."
Archer also said that he did not disagree with the conclusion that Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma had no effect on U.S. foreign policy. And Archer testified that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden as it related to his son’s business dealings.
“No, I’m not aware of any,” Archer said during his more than five-hour deposition.
The witness also said there were roughly 20 phone calls in which Hunter Biden would put his father on speakerphone in the presence of business associates, but he said that the brief conversations focused on pleasantries like the weather or fishing, not official business.
But Archer testified that those mundane phone calls were meant to convey access and power. Without Hunter Biden, Burisma might not have survived, Archer said.
“I think Burisma would have gone out of business if it didn’t have the brand attached to it. That’s my, like, only honest opinion,” Archer said.
The witness also described two dinners — a birthday dinner and another on the World Food Programme — attended by Hunter and Joe Biden in 2014 and 2015 at Washington’s Cafe Milano. Some foreign business executives and politicians were present, but Archer said Joe Biden didn’t discuss business. Hunter Biden was chairman of the board for World Food Program USA at the time.
Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., released Archer’s 141-page transcript on the same day former President Donald Trump is set to be arraigned at a federal courthouse in Washington for charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The testimony hands Republicans descriptive details about Hunter Biden and more ammunition as they accuse the Justice Department of aggressively prosecuting Trump for multiple crimes while going easy on Hunter Biden on federal tax and other charges.
Witnesses typically get an opportunity to review transcripts so they can make any corrections, but it appeared that Republicans rushed to publicize the Archer transcript. Archer's attorney, Matthew Schwartz, said in an email that he and his client "cannot confirm the accuracy of the transcript that was released, as Committee staffers gave us only a handful of hours to review it before it was made public.”
The transcripts appear to back up Democrats, including Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., who have argued that Comer’s investigation into the Bidens has revealed no direct evidence that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s business dealings, was influenced by them or broke the law.
“Once again, Committee Republicans’ priority investigation into President Biden has failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. On Monday, Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s former business associate, confirmed in a transcribed interview that President Biden was never involved in Hunter’s business dealings, never profited from such dealings, and never took official action in relation to these business dealings,” Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight panel, said in a statement.
“The transcript released today shows the extent to which Congressional Republicans are willing to distort, twist, and manipulate the facts presented by their own witness just to keep fueling the far-right media’s obsession with fabricating wrongdoing by President Biden in a desperate effort to distract from Donald Trump’s third indictment and the overwhelming evidence of his persistent efforts to undermine American democracy.”
At one point in the deposition, Schwartz, wanted his client to clarify several points Archer made earlier about the limitations of his knowledge about Joe Biden.
“It is still true that you are not aware that Hunter Biden ever discussed policy with his father, discussed business with his father, influenced American policy for purposes of his business or otherwise caused the Vice President or asked the Vice President to do anything improper, right?” Schwartz asked.
“That’s my understanding,” Archer replied.
Goldman, the Democratic lawmaker, participated in the deposition and asked Archer to clarify that Hunter Biden was not necessarily selling access to Joe Biden, then the vice president, but the “illusion of access.”
“So is it fair to say that Hunter Biden was selling the illusion of access to his father? Goldman asked.
“Yes,” Archer replied, adding that the Biden son and father spoke almost daily “but nothing of material was discussed.”
Earlier in the deposition, Archer told Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., “It’s fair to say” that when he refers to Hunter Biden selling the Biden “brand” he is referring to the Joe Biden brand. But then, later in the deposition, after a break and conferring with his counsel, Archer said Hunter Biden was creating the appearance of access to Washington in general.
“Overall, it’s the appearance to all of D.C.,” Archer said.
The Trump family is briefly mentioned during Archer’s testimony. After questioning from Goldman, Archer recalled he did once “play behind” Donald Trump in golf. Trump approached him at the clubhouse and said he did not like Archer’s athletic shorts.
“Would you say that Donald Trump’s children benefit from their last name being Trump?” Goldman asked.
“I would speculate to say, yes,” Archer replied.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, a White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations blasted House Republicans, saying they "keep promising bombshell evidence to support their false, ridiculous attacks against the President, but time after time, they keep failing to produce any."
"In fact, even their own witnesses are debunking their allegations," Ian Sams said.