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James Comer sums up his ‘evidence’ of Biden crimes. It’s scant.

In an interview Monday with conservative talk radio host Jimmy Failla, Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, provided an unusually succinct description of his case against President Biden. House Republicans appear to have abandoned their impeachment drive against the president, which Comer has led, and instead may go straight to the Justice Department with criminal referrals.

Comer’s remarks provide a rough guide to what the House GOP may have in mind.

Here are the comments in full, with the relevant sections in bold type.

Here’s the evidence, Jimmy. There’s ten different Biden family members that received incremental payments through 20 shell companies that received wires from, from at least five foreign countries that were for services that we have yet to determine. For nearly $30 million. And then according to the IRS whistleblowers, they didn’t pay a penny of taxes on it.
But this all revolves around Joe because not only have we proven Joe got $250,000, a quarter of $1 million of that money, but Joe met with all the people who were wiring the Bidens money even though he lied and said he never met with any of them; he met with all of them. At the end of the day, who are these people? They’re bad people in bad countries who were being investigated for corruption, who were needing pardons, who were needing access to Americans banks because they had sanctions put against them by the government. They all needed something from the government and they were paying for access to Joe Biden.

Let’s dissect Comer’s comments.

Documents and interviews released by Comer’s committee identified payments to Hunter Biden, the president’s son; Jim Biden, the president’s brother; Sara Biden; his sister-in-law; and Hallie Biden, his son Beau’s widow. Comer is also counting the president (more on that below). Committee staff say payments were also received by Melissa Cohen, Hunter’s current spouse; Kathleen Buhle, his ex-wife; and three minor children who are not being identified, adding up to 10. Even that is being generous to Comer’s theory, because virtually all of this money flowed to Hunter Biden. The others received relatively small amounts.

This is false. As we have shown before, virtually all of the companies that received the funds in question had legitimate business interests — which shell companies by definition do not. Comer claims that it is not clear what Hunter Biden did to earn the money, when it is often quite evident. For instance, Hunter Biden earned millions as a board member of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. (Whether he was qualified for the post is another matter.) The committee rejects this analysis and says that the “majority of these companies did not provide services and the Bidens certainly did nothing of substance for these entities justifying millions of dollars in payment.”

Comer is referring to payments from people or companies based in China ($6.5 million), Ukraine ($4 million), Romania ($1 million), and Kazakhstan ($142,300 from a businessman to Hunter Biden to pay for a Porsche sports car). The fifth country is Russia, but that requires an asterisk. The committee is counting a transfer of $3.5 million from Russian billionaire Elena Baturina. Hunter’s former business partner Devon Archer testified that that money was not intended for Hunter, as has Hunter. “That was Devon’s,” Hunter said in his congressional interview. “I never received a dime from Ms. Baturina. I didn’t have any involvement with her in any way.” The committee staff says “five” is a conservative figure that does not include other countries that were allegedly sources of payments, such as Panama and Cyprus.

The last time we investigated this matter, the committee could document between $11.7 million and $15.18 million in transfers to Biden family members. (The difference depends on whether you include Baturina’s $3.5 million.) The committee says the number now also includes loans to pay Hunter’s taxes and the sale of his artwork.

Hunter Biden faces a criminal indictment for failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes between 2016 and 2019. He has repaid these taxes in full, his attorney says. Jim Biden was hit with a tax lien in 2018, but it was paid off a year later, so it’s also wrong to say he didn’t pay a penny in taxes. Twenty-five years of Joe Biden’s tax returns are publicly available. Comer’s broad-brush wording suggests 10 Biden family members did not pay any taxes on whatever money was transferred to them. The committee staff did not explain this comment.

Comer appears to be referring to the repayment of two interest-free loans — one for $40,000 in 2017 and one for $200,000 in 2018 — that Jim Biden received from his brother. The committee has suggested that Jim Biden repaid the loans with money he received from overseas, such as a Chinese company. Jim Biden has told congressional investigators that his brother was never involved in his business activities. There is no indication that Joe Biden knew the source of funding. The committee staff notes that Biden associate Eric Schwerin, who handles financial matters for the family, did not recall such loans during his interview with investigators.

The committee had published a list of alleged Biden meetings but, again, even that shows Comer is making a sweeping generalization that Joe Biden met with all of these people. The committee’s list shows people from four countries (not Romania). The “meetings” include handshake greetings and being at the same table during a meal — though accounts vary on whether Joe Biden did more than a meet-and-greet. The committee staff acknowledges that Biden did not meet with Romanian businessman Gabriel Popoviciu, later convicted on bribery-related charges, but says he met with Romanian public officials around the time that money started flowing into Hunter Biden’s account for services connected to Popoviciu.

Another sweeping generalization. The United States is a strong supporter of Ukraine in its war against Russia. Romania is described as a “steadfast ally” by the State Department, while the department says the United States and Kazakhstan have developed a “strong and wide-ranging bilateral relationship.” The committee staff notes that Comer did not identify what countries are bad.

The pardon reference is mysterious. The committee’s “Biden influence peddling timeline” makes no reference to any pardon being sought. The committee staff did not explain this comment.

Jason Galanis, a former Hunter Biden associate now in prison, testified that Baturina “was having trouble opening a U.S. bank account based on reports of her ties to criminal figures in Russia and corruption allegations related to her politician husband.” But she has never been sanctioned. Both Archer and Hunter Biden testified that she was Archer’s client and was not in business with Hunter. The committee also did not explain this reference.

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This post appeared first on The Washington Post
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