House Oversight Chair James Comer, who is investigating President Joe Biden for what Republicans call potentially impeachable offenses, was given unrestricted access Thursday to a batch of his emails from his time as vice president, according to two sources familiar with them.
Comer has made gaining access to redacted portions of Biden’s emails a major target as he tries to build a case that the former vice president sought to dictate U.S. policy on Ukraine to benefit the business interests of his son, Hunter. But the new emails do not provide any evidence that Joe Biden personally benefited from his son’s business dealings.
The emails, held by the National Archives, were unredacted for the Kentucky Republican and his committee to view.
They include schedules with ordinary family get-togethers. One shows Biden had lunch with Hunter Biden’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan. Another reveals that the Ukrainians were praising his now-deceased brother, Beau. And then there are the private musings of multiple Georgian women saying they found Joe Biden “sexy” during a 2009 trip that also included a stop in Ukraine.
“Must-read email below,” read an email forwarded by Biden’s then-national security adviser Tony Blinken to Joe Biden and his sons, Hunter and Beau. The email’s subject line: “Biden as new Georgian sex symbol.”
Republicans had a different view of the emails.
“The National Archives has only produced 14 pages of what is expected to be thousands of pages if the Biden White House doesn’t try to withhold them from Congress,” a House Oversight Committee spokesperson said. “It’s silly for anyone to try to draw conclusions from 14 pages of documents that the White House cleared to give to Congress, especially when it contains an email that opines on foreign nationals thinking Joe Biden is sexy. These are the emails Joe Biden wants Americans to see. The Oversight Committee will continue to follow the money and evidence to hold President Biden accountable for his abuse of public office.”
For years, Republicans have been focused on Hunter Biden’s business dealings with the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.
Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma and Republicans have claimed that his father ordered the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating the company to protect his son’s business interests. Indeed, Trump’s first impeachment was a result of him threatening to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine unless its government launched an investigation of Burisma and the Bidens.
This is despite evidence that the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was not fired because he was investigating Burisma. Rather, he was fired by the Ukrainian Parliament for failing to crack down on corruption, a move that was supported by most Western nations and U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Now that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has launched a formal impeachment inquiry, the stakes for Republicans are considerable. If they impeach Biden without the evidence they’ve promised to unearth, it is likely to backfire with independent voters and to fire up Democrats in next year’s elections. If they don’t impeach him, hardline conservatives may punish McCarthy and there will be a backlash from many GOP voters who falsely believe Republicans already have the evidence to impeach.
While there is significant evidence that Hunter — who has admitted to struggling with substance abuse at the time — made trading on his father’s name a centerpiece of his dealings with foreign business associates, Republicans have yet to turn up direct evidence that Joe Biden benefited personally or that he took any official action as a result of those connections.
Here’s a look at the unredacted emails:
— A June 14, 2016 schedule card shows Biden was to meet with the prime minister of Ukraine. The newly unredacted portions show he was also scheduled to work out with his personal trainer, and to dine with Hunter’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan, in the vice president’s office.
— A May, 27, 2016 schedule card includes a call with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Hunter Biden was copied on the day’s schedule. It’s already been reported that Biden was also due to attend the one-year anniversary of the passing of his son, Beau, back home in Delaware. Comer had been pointing to this scheduling item, since it was also emailed to then-Vice President Biden under a pseudonym email address. Comer even said the vice president was sending a secret message to his son that he was about to fire the prosecutor. As recently as last week, Comer included that email on a list of “evidence” of Joe Biden’s “involvement in his family’s influence peddling schemes.”
The Washington Post had debunked this a few weeks ago by noting that parliament had fired the prosecutor two months prior to Hunter Biden being looped on the day’s itinerary. The only new information in the unredacted version was a phone number of an aide, the sources said.
— A March 26, 2012 email from Biden to Blinken and both of his sons had been entirely redacted. The newly-unredacted portions reveal that the then-Ukrainian ambassador sent Blinken a letter effusively praising Beau for a speech he had delivered in Ukraine on combating corruption. Beau Biden was, at the time, the attorney general of the state of Delaware. “Beau’s visit was everything we hoped for. He was terrific,” it read.
— A July 24, 2009 email was forwarded by Biden’s then-personal assistant to Biden and his two sons. It included praise for a speech Biden had delivered in Tbilisi to the Georgian parliament. The assistant forwarded the email, titled “Biden as new Georgian sex symbol” and with the following commentary: “Must-Read Email Below.” It also stated that multiple female friends were talking about “how sexy” Biden was after his visit. “A new man in my life,” remarked one. “A big crush on him,” said another.
Comer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The download is the first tranche from the National Archives in response to multiple requests from Comer. In a letter to the National Archives sent last month, the committee asked for “unrestricted special access” to emails to or from the vice president and his son “related to Burisma and Ukraine.” Comer is awaiting responses to numerous additional requests including Hunter Biden’s use of Air Force Two and Marine Two while Joe Biden was vice president and emails from Biden aides regarding Hunter Biden and all of Biden’s executive calendars.
Comer predicted that a broader body of unredacted emails would reveal “pretty damaging evidence.” “You’re gonna see a lot of Democrats hit the panic button,” Comer said a few weeks ago on Newsmax. But that does not appear to be the case from these emails.
The batch does make one amusing discovery. Biden’s then-assistant forwarded an email from Blinken sharing that women in the country of Georgia found the former vice president sexy during his 2009 visit, said the people who viewed the emails.
McCarthy and his allies insisted that opening a formal impeachment inquiry would empower them to dig deeper. Yet the emails are another example of the House GOP failing to turn up evidence they’ve assured the public exists and that will implicate Biden in some form of corruption that rises to an impeachable offense.
Many Republicans have acknowledgedthey do not have documentation showing Biden profited from his son’s business dealings — or let it impact his policy actions as vice president. Their theory relies on innuendo about email and text exchanges involving Hunter.
Biden’s former business partner, Devon Archer, testified under oath to Comer’s committee that the president was never involved in their business decisions and that he had no evidence or knowledge that Biden took any action to benefit his son or Burisma. Hunter Biden used the “illusion” of access to his father in his business dealings, Archer said.
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