On the eve of high-profile testimony to a House committee, Hunter Biden’s longtime business partner Devon Archer is wrangling with the Justice Department about when he should report to prison on unrelated charges.
A jury in 2018 convicted Archer of two felonies for his role in a conspiracy to defraud a Native American tribe, but his 2022 sentence has been repeatedly postponed amid a long-running series of appeals.
On Saturday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York wrote to trial judge Ronnie Abrams and asked her to schedule a date for Archer to report to prison, after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals finalized an order days earlier upholding his one-year sentence.
The court isn’t expected to make a decision before Archer will meet behind closed doors with the House Oversight Committee, meaning that even if the court ultimately sides with the request Archer wouldn’t have to report to prison before the meeting. And his attorney said in a statement that he will move forward with his planned appearance Monday.
A spokesperson for the office of United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on the filing or the timing of the letter. But according to the one-page letter, filed by assistant U.S. attorney Negar Tekeei, prosecutors had asked Archer’s attorney to recommend a reporting date in light of the Second Circuit ruling but were rebuffed.
Archer’s counsel, according to the DOJ letter, said it was “premature” to set a sentencing date because Archer was considering further appeals and intended to raise an “error” in the sentencing process. Archer’s lawyer plans to file a response to the U.S. attorney’s demands by Wednesday.
Matthew Schwartz, Archer’s attorney, also rejected the notion that there’s any connection between Archer’s tiff with the Justice Department and his potentially imminent jail time.
“We are aware of speculation that the Department of Justice’s weekend request to have Mr. Archer report to prison is an attempt by the Biden administration to intimidate him in advance of his meeting with the House Oversight Committee,” Schwartz said in a statement. “To be clear, Mr. Archer does not agree with that speculation. In any case, Mr. Archer will do what he has planned to do all along, which is to show up on Monday and to honestly answer the questions that are put to him by the Congressional investigators.”
But the latest turn in the long-running conflict creates an odd backdrop to Archer’s planned appearance, which Republicans have been touting as a significant moment in their probe of Biden’s business dealings. Archer’s appearance had previously been scheduled, and canceled, leading to Monday’s rescheduling.
Republicans view Archer as a key witness in their monthslong hunt to find an elusive smoking gun that links President Joe Biden to the business deals of his son, Hunter Biden, and other family members. No evidence has emerged that Joe Biden’s decisions as president or vice president were influenced by his son’s business deals, and he has repeatedly denied involvement in his family’s business agreements.
But Republicans are expected to use the closed-door sit-down to try to back up their investigative claims.
Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) subpoenaed Archer in June, saying that he “played a significant role in the Biden family’s business deals abroad, including but not limited to China, Russia, and Ukraine” and that the committee believed he had information relevant to their investigation.
During a Fox News interview on Sunday with Maria Bartiromo, Comer called the timing of the letter “odd,” but stopped short of predicting what the former Hunter Biden business associate would tell the committee behind closed doors.
“I don’t want to put words in Devon Archer’s mouth,” Comer said on “Sunday Morning Futures,” “but I’ll say this: He has an opportunity to come tomorrow to the House Oversight Committee and tell the truth.”
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