Hunter Biden's former business partner appeared Monday for closed-door testimony on Capitol Hill, with Republicans planning to question him about claims that President Joe Biden was directly involved in his younger son's financial dealings.
The Republican-led House Oversight Committee was conducting a transcribed interview with Devon Archer as part of its expanding congressional inquiry into the Biden family businesses as the GOP explores a potential impeachment inquiry into the president.
Archer, who served with Hunter Biden on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has been seen by Republicans as a key witness in their so-far fruitless search to directly connect the president to his son's various international business transactions.
Rep. James Comer, the GOP chairman of Oversight Committee, issued a subpoena to Archer in June, saying he “played a significant role in the Biden family’s business deals abroad, including but not limited to China, Russia, and Ukraine." He said Archer's testimony would be critical to the committee's investigation.
Republicans have focused much attention on an unverified tip to the FBI that alleged a bribery scheme involving Joe Biden when he was vice president. The claim, which first emerged in 2019, was that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor in order to stop an investigation into Burisma, an oil-and-gas company where Hunter Biden was on the board. GOP lawmakers and staff present at Monday's interview were also expected to question Archer about several business meetings and conversations Hunter Biden had during which he is said to have invoked his father's name.
Democrats on the committee, including Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking minority member, have reiterated that the Justice Department investigated the Burisma claim when Donald Trump was president and closed the matter after eight months, finding “insufficient evidence” that it was true. Democrats have also highlighted the transcript of an interview with Mykola Zlochevsky, Burisma’s co-founder, in which he denied having any contact with Joe Biden while Hunter Biden worked for the company.
“Mr. Zlochevsky’s statements are just one of the many that have debunked the corruption allegations,” Raskin said.
On top of his relationship with Hunter Biden, who is currently facing federal tax charges, Archer has his own legal troubles stemming from a 2018 felony conviction for his role in a conspiracy to defraud a Native American tribe. That conviction was overturned later that year, but then the court of appeals in New York reinstated it in 2020. His sentencing in the case has been repeatedly delayed by appeals.
Archer's appearance before lawmakers had been scheduled and canceled several times since June. Republicans suggested it was about to be delayed again after the Justice Department over the weekend asked a judge to schedule a date for Archer to surrender to prison and begin serving out his one-year sentence in the unrelated fraud case.
Republicans — led by Comer — criticized that delay, calling it an effort by the Justice Department to intimidate a witness. But the Justice Department in a follow-up memo to the court noted Archer's surrender was not imminent and asked a judge to ensure that he testified to Congress before reporting to prison.
“Mr. Archer will do what he has planned to do all along, which is to show up this morning and to honestly answer the questions that are put to him by the congressional investigators,” said Archer’s attorney, Matthew Schwartz, who is a managing partner at New York-based firm Boies Schiller Flexner.