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FACT SHEET: MAGA Republicans Call Trump-Aligned Witness Tony Bobulinski

Feb 12, 2024

On Tuesday, the MAGA House GOP will talk to Hunter Biden’s ex-associate Tony Bobulinski to testify as part of their baseless, evidence-free impeachment probe of President Biden. Calling on Bobulinski to testify is a new low for Republicans who are desperate to revive their failing inquiry.

Oversight Chair James Comer has praised Bobulinski as his star witness and claimed “everything Bobulinski has said about Hunter Biden we have fact checked and found to be true.” Yet Bobulinski’s so-called evidence has already been investigated and rejected. The GOP-led Senate declined to follow up after reviewing his so-called evidence and found nothing incriminating Joe Biden. The Trump-era Department of Justice does not appear to have investigated further after he sat for an interview and provided copies of his phone. The Trump-appointed federal prosecutor involved in the clase even declined testimony. Likewise, right-wing media, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, found no evidence to corroborate Bobulinski’s allegations – as did independent fact checkers. Bobulinski also has a history of pushing litigation motivated by grievances, grudges, and personal gain.

Bobulinski is a Trump-aligned figure who only made his revelations known at the behest of the Trump campaign weeks before the 2020 election. The Trump White House “met furtively” with Bobulinski and directly pitched his claims to major media outlets before Trump’s campaign arranged a press conference to air his allegations; Trump even invited Bobulinski to the final presidential debate. Bobulinski’s lawyer, Steven Passitano, is also a former Trump White House attorney who is currently being paid by Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans like Marjorie Taylor Greene. Passitano was also Cassidy Hutchinson’s first lawyer for the January 6th Select Committee, where he advised her against being forthcoming with what she knew. After months of failure, MAGA Republicans are scraping the bottom of the barrel in a desperate attempt to distract from their chaos and total inability to govern.

The GOP-Led Senate Reviewed Bobulinski’s Communications & Business Records Involving Hunter Biden, But Found No Evidence of Wrongdoing By Joe Biden. In October 2020, Bobulinski alleged he had evidence showing that Joe Biden was entangled in a 2017 business venture involving a Chinese energy firm. He claimed, “Everything I’m saying is corroborated by emails, WhatsApp chats, agreements, documents and other evidence.” The GOP-led Senate Homeland Security and Finance committees immediately requested Bobulinski’s records related to business dealings (including bank records, wire transfers, account balances, gifts, business transactions, and travel records) with Hunter Biden and his family as part of their broader investigation into Hunter Biden. As Fox News reported, “He provided the committees with the documents and Fox News also, separately, obtained those documents.” But after obtaining all these records, Senate Republicans declined to follow up with Bobulinski or investigate the matter further. When they released their final report, Senate Republicans found “no evidence of improper influence or wrongdoing by the former vice president.

The Trump-Era Department of Justice and a Trump-Appointed Prosecutor Declined To Investigate Bobulinski Further. Federal investigations into Hunter Biden began in 2018, during the Trump administration. Bobulinski said he was open to testifying as part of the investigation and his attorney reached out to investigators. He claimed that federal prosecutors did not follow up – yet Senate Republicans revealed that Bobulinski sat for an interview with the FBI and was asked to provide copies of his phone. In June, Comer’s key IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley testified that the Department of Justice supposedly stymied and slow-walked investigative leads, including Bobulinski, while investigating Hunter Biden. But any prosecutorial decisions made leading up to the 2020 election were made by Trump administration officialswho were aligned with the widely reported priorities of Trump’s Attorney General at the time. Trump remained in power for three months after Bobulinski’s claims went public in October 2020, yet his administration does not appear to have investigated further.

Even Right-Wing Media Found No Evidence To Corroborate Bobulinski’s Claims About Joe Biden. As independent fact checkers reported, “There’s reason to be skeptical about Bobulinski’s allegations, which credible news organizations have not corroborated. The Associated Press, for example, reported that it could not independently verify Bobulinki’s claims. PolitiFact has not been able to, either. […] No credible news outlets have reported any wrongdoing or role held by Joe Biden, and Biden’s campaign has denied that their candidate got involved in, or stood to gain from, the venture or any other overseas business arrangements.”

  • Fox News Has Debunked Bobulinksi’s Allegations: “Records Don’t Show Proof Of Biden Business Relationship Amid Unanswered Questions.” “Fox News has reviewed emails from Bobulinski related to the venture — and they don’t show that the elder Biden had business dealings with SinoHawk Holdings, or took any payments from them or the Chinese.” [Fox News, 10/23/20]
      • Fox News: Bobulinski’s Text Messages and Emails “Don’t Show Hunter or James Biden Discussing Joe Biden’s Purported Role.” “Bobulinski provided text messages and emails related to his venture to The Wall Street Journal, mainly from the spring and summer of 2017, which don’t show Hunter or James Biden discussing Joe Biden’s purported role.” [Fox News, 10/23/20]
  • The Wall Street Journal: Hunter and Jim Biden Never Got Funds From Bobulinski’s Chinese Energy Firm. “The venture—set up in 2017 after Mr. Biden left the vice presidency and before his presidential campaign—never received proposed funds from the Chinese company or completed any deals, according to people familiar with the matter. Corporate records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show no role for Joe Biden.” [The Wall Street Journal, 10/23/20]

Bobulinski’s Lawyer Is Currently On Donald Trump’s Payroll, Served In the Trump White House, and Has A History of Encouraging Clients to Lie. Bobulinski’s attorney is Stefan Passantino, a lawyer who worked in the Trump White House and has worked for the Trump Organization. He runs a law firm known as Elections LLC that receives frequent payments from Donald Trump. Various Trump PACs have paid the firm over $330,000 since July 2023 — a total of over $3.5 million to-date according to recent FEC filings. Passantino has served as Bobulinski’s lawyer since at least 2020, and was being paid by Trump’s PACs while the former president and his allies worked feverishly to push Bobulinski’s baseless claims ahead of the election. Trump also paid Passantino to originally represent Cassidy Hutchinson before the January 6th Select Committee, where she testified that Passantino told her to lie about what she knew, and promised that she would be “taken care of” — so long as she remained loyal to Trump. 

  • Bobulinski’s Lawyer Is Currently Being Paid By MAGA Republicans Serving On The Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Passantino is also currently being paid by House Judiciary and House Oversight committee members Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Harriett Hageman (R-WY), receiving $35,735 from Greene and her leadership PAC and $6,000 from Hageman since July 2023 according to recent FEC filings. His LLC has received $194,800 in steady payments from Rep. Greene and her leadership PAC and $54,000 from Rep. Hageman since 2019.

Bobulinski Is A Trump-Aligned Figure Who Only Made His Revelations Known At The Behest of the Trump Campaign Weeks Before the 2020 Election:

  • The Trump Campaign Arranged A Press Conference For Bobulinski To Air His Allegations, Then Trump Invited Him As A Guest At The Final 2020 Presidential Debate. The day after Bobulinski released a statement detailing his baseless claims about Joe Biden, the Trump campaign organized a staged press event for Bobulinski to air his allegations ahead of the final presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle. Then, Trump invited Bobulinski to attend the debate as his guest.
  • The Trump White House Directly Pitched Bobulinski’s Claims To Major Media Outlets – To No Avail – Before They Went Public. Throughout October 2020, the Trump White House worked feverishly to pitch and promote Bobulinski’s claims. Trump himself told reporters to expect a major story on the allegations in the Wall Street Journal; when the paper did not run the story as planned, Bobulinski issued his own statement which far-right Breitbart News (promptly published unedited). The Wall Street Journal then published a story debunking allegations that Joe Biden received funds from Bobulinski’s firm in China.
  • The Trump White House “Met Furtively” With Bobulinski During Trump’s Reelection Campaign. According to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, “Meadows met furtively with former Hunter Biden business associate Tony Bobulinski while being shielded from public view by Secret Service agents.”

Tony Bobulinski Sued His Own Cancer-Stricken Father, Stepmother, and Their Local Children’s Charity For $900,000 While Pouring Hundreds Of Thousands Into An Offshore Chinese Business Venture. Comer has propped up Bobulinski as his star witness and praised his integrity on Fox News, “everything Bobulinski has said about Hunter Biden we have fact checked and found to be true.” Yet Bobulinski has a history of pushing litigation motivated by grievances, grudges, and personal gain. While his father was dying, Bobulinski tried to chisel money back from his estate, later suing his widow in an effort to recoup a $25,000 donation while pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into an offshore multinational Chinese branding venture based in the Cayman Islands. As the Daily Beast reported, “The Virginia records are riven with emails, text messages, and other documents that paint Bobulinski as a volatile and self-serving manipulator with an explosive temper. At one point, Bobulinski stormed his parents’ home and forcibly shook his dad’s head, having learned in person only a few weeks earlier that his brain cancer had returned, according to his stepmother’s sworn affidavit in her application for a protective order. […] At the time, Tony Bobulinski’s business ventures had already met with financial success, according to his parents’ claims in court, rendering him “more than a millionaire.” His parents were not. […] By May, the company was insolvent. […] But Bobulinski kept pushing his Chinese connections, which eventually landed him in cahoots with Hunter Biden. […] But that observation raises the question of just how relevant Bobulinski’s information is—even if it is entirely accurate.”