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Kevin McCarthy and James Comer’s Lies to Support a Baseless Impeachment Inquiry

Sep 13, 2023

This morning, Speaker McCarthy, Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY), and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) spoke to the press on their plans to barrel ahead with a baseless impeachment inquiry without holding a vote in the House. Speaker McCarthy said “President Biden lied to the American people about knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealings.”

Well, we’ve got news for McCarthy, Comer, and Stefanik: their attempted justification for an impeachment inquiry is based on numerous lies that have been repeatedly debunked and disproven by independent fact checkers and their own witnesses. 

After eight months of Congressional investigations, 12,000 pages of documents reviewed, and every subpoena answered, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. A wide range of House Republicans from House Freedom Caucus Member Ken Buck to Biden 18 Members Mike Lawler and Don Bacon agree there is not enough evidence to move forward with impeachment. 

Lie #1: President Biden Was Involved In Hunter Biden’s Foreign Business Dealings

Claim: Comer claimed House Republicans now have evidence, via testimony from Devon Archer, that then-Vice President Biden knew of Hunter Biden’s business deals and suggested that he met and/or spoke with foreign nationals involved with his son.

Yesterday, McCarthy claimed, “eyewitnesses have testified that the president joined [in] on multiple phone calls and had multiple interactions, dinners, resulted in cars and millions of dollars into his son’s and his son’s business partners.”

The Facts: Archer did NOT testify that President Biden was directly involved in business discussions – only that he held casual conversations about “the weather” and “fishing.” Witness testimony referred to approximately 20 instances over the span of a decade in which Hunter indicated Joe Biden was merely present. 

As ABC reported: “Archer testified that Joe Biden’s interactions with Hunter Biden’s associates were ‘not related to commercial business,’ that Joe Biden had no involvement with Burisma, the Ukrainian oil conglomerate on whose board both Archer and Hunter Biden served; that the elder Biden never took any actions to benefit Burisma or Hunter Biden; and that Hunter Biden never asked his father to take any actions that would help his clients, according to the fully transcribed interview with the committee.” 

Lie #2: “The Bidens” Received $20 Million From Our Adversaries

Claim: Comer claimed “the Bidens received over $20 million” from China, Romania, and other foreign entities.

Yesterday, McCarthy alleged, “we know that bank records show that nearly $20 million in payments were directed to the Biden family members and associates.”

The Facts: According to the Washington Post, “A close reading of the memos, however, finds that only about $7 million can be directly attributed to Biden family members, mostly Hunter, while the rest went to ‘associates,’ according to the memos. […] No money has been traced to Joe Biden.

Lie #3: President Biden Laundered Money Through Illegitimate Shell Companies

Claim: Comer claimed “we found [the Bidens have] 20 shell companies…they are not legitimate companies.” He also claimed the president’s granddaughter “received a wire that had been laundered to the shell companies from Romania days after the President left Romania when he was Vice President.”

The Facts: In May, House Republicans released a report about several of the companies in question – but their own report found no evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. Independent fact-checkers further concluded: “that claim is undercut by the list of 21 companies that appear in the second staff memo. Virtually all of the companies (many of which now are defunct) had legitimate business interests. Others had clearly identified business investments. Digging through the records, we find only three whose business purpose remains vague; one (Rosemont Seneca Global Risk Services, LLC) may not even be related to Hunter Biden, according to an email found in Hunter Biden’s laptop. The memos do not list any payments that flowed through these three companies.”

Lie #4: Suspicious Activity Reports Are Evidence Of Criminality

Claim: Comer alleged, “we found 170 major bank violations…from six major banks…alleging that the Bidens were money laundering and receiving suspicious wires from state-owned entities.”

According to McCarthy, “the Treasury Department alone has more than 150 transactions involving the Biden family and other business associates that were flagged as suspicious activity by U.S. banks.”

The Facts: Suspicious activity reports (SARs) alone do not indicate that a crime was committed. Washington Post fact-checkers debunked these claims as far back as October 2022, citing top financial analysts who described SARs as “well short of, ‘I think a crime has been committed,’” and merely “a tip” with a low threshold for filing just to be on the safe side: “‘Since banks are subject to enforcement action if they fail to file a SAR when they should have, but suffer no sanction if they file a useless SAR, the general presumption is to file the SAR,’ the group says.”

Lie #5: President Biden Received Bribes

Claim: Comer claimed, “we also found an FBI form 1023 alleging Joe Biden took a bribe…the FBI never investigated this allegation…in the FBI 1023 [form] it said that investigators would take 10 years to figure out where these bribes went because of the various bank accounts that they wired the money through. That was written years before anyone knew the Bidens had shell companies and the Bidesn were laundering money.”

Yesterday, McCarthy alleged, “even a trusted FBI informant has alleged a bribe to the Biden family. Biden used his official office to coordinate with Hunter Biden’s business partners about Hunter’s role in Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company.” 

The Facts: Republicans have failed to produce evidence of bribery despite subpoenaing the FBI and risking the safety of confidential sources. As our new report found: 

“In early-May, Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) published an open letter to the FBI announcing subpoenas for an unclassified document supposedly describing an alleged ‘criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.’ Comer was immediately called out for pushing unsubstantiated allegations in the letter. The Associated Press noted, ‘the lawmakers used the word ‘alleged’ three times in the opening paragraph of the letter and offered no evidence of the veracity of the accusations.’ HuffPost reporters concurred: ‘[Republicans] acknowledged they don’t know if the allegation will pan out. […] backing the allegation despite the scarcity of details.’

When Comer and Grassley obtained the document, form FD-1023, and publicly released a redacted version in July – against the advice of intelligence officials who feared it would ‘unnecessarily risks the safety of a confidential source’ – it ended up being an uncorroborated FBI tip. Worse still, the owner of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, had already rebutted the uncorroborated bribery allegations back in 2019: ‘As part of the impeachment inquiry against then-President Trump, Congress learned that Mr. Zlochevsky, the Ukrainian oligarch and the owner of Burisma, whom Republican Committee Members appear to have identified as the source of the allegations memorialized in the Form FD-1023, squarely rebutted these allegations in 2019.’”

Lie #6: President Biden Fired A Ukrainian Prosecutor To Benefit Hunter Biden 

Claim: Comer suggested that then-Vice President Biden worked to fire a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor to benefit Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings: “We also just recently discovered an email from…the Obama State Department to Victor Shokin, the prosecutor who Joe Biden fired in Ukraine in exchange for the billion dollars, praising him for the great work that he did. But there was this narrative that Joe Biden created that Shokin was corrupt and that he needed to go over there and be fired.”

The Facts: Comer has long pushed a false narrative that a Ukrainian prosecutor was removed at then-Vice President Biden’s behest as a favor to Hunter Biden – but numerous fact checkers have rejected this claim over the years: 

  • CNN found that the prosecutor was not actually prosecuting or actively investigating Burisma at the time: “While there had been an investigation of the company, Shokin’s former deputy, Vitaliy Kasko, has said that it was dormant at the time of Joe Biden’s intervention. (The former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, George Kent, testified in Trump’s impeachment inquiry that Shokin was corrupt; the US and its allies had made a coordinated effort to oust him.)” 
  • As USAToday reported, “Based on our research, the claim that Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion from Ukraine to save his son’s job is FALSE. The then-vice president leveraged aid dollars to persuade the country to oust its top prosecutor as part of anti-corruption efforts endorsed by other international players that were unrelated to his son, Hunter Biden.” 
  • Likewise, the New York Times pointed to a mismatched timeline, concluding, ““[T]here is no evidence he did so to benefit Hunter Biden or the oligarch who owns Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky.”

Lie #7: President Biden’s Use Of Pseudonyms Was Uncommon Or Illegal

Claim: Comer stated, “Joe Biden has used at least three pseudonyms on over 5,000 emails. We know [in] one of these, his son was copied in a pseudonym that pertained to Ukraine.”

The Facts: “As for the use of a pseudonym, it’s no surprise Biden would have had one, as it was disclosed during the Obama presidency that senior officials had such accounts. […] Comer has a tendency to mess up details or lose nuance when he shows up on television, but he really shoots himself in the foot here. He claims that Biden was sending a secret message to his son about how he was going to tell the Ukrainian president to fire the prosecutor — but the email was sent two months after the firing. Skeptics may doubt whether Hunter Biden was copied on the email for family matters, but it’s certainly not because of the nefarious purpose suggested by Comer.” [Washington Post, 9/6/23]

Lie #8: Then-Vice President Biden’s Office Colluded With Hunter Biden’s Business Partners 

Claim: Yesterday, McCarthy claimed that then-Vice President Biden used his official office to coordinate with Hunter Biden’s business partners about Hunter’s role in Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company.

The Facts: Contrary to claims that the Office of the Vice President colluded with Hunter Biden’s business partner on media responses, the key email touted by House Republicans included a statement explicitly stating that the Vice President “does not endorse any particular company and has no involvement with this company.”

Lie #9: President Biden’s Family Received Special Treatment From His Administration

Claim: Yesterday, McCarthy claimed that “the president’s family has been offered special treatment by Biden’s own administration,” protecting Hunter Biden by appointing special counsel David Weiss.

The Facts: David Weiss was originally appointed to serve as US Attorney for Delaware by Donald Trump. Oversight Chair James Comer was vocal in his support for Weiss remaining US Attorney after the 2020 election. Republicans have claimed Weiss slow-walked the investigation to protect Hunter Biden, but his office’s investigation into Hunter Biden began in 2018, during the Trump administration, and any decisions about delays leading up to the 2020 election were made by Trump administration officials who were aligned with the widely reported priorities of Trump’s Attorney General at the time. After months of calling for David Weiss to be appointed Special Counsel, the very Republicans who were calling for it criticized the move once it was made.