Hunter Biden Leaves Republicans Hanging At High-Profile Hearing

"With any luck today marks the end of perhaps the most spectacular failure in the history of congressional investigations," Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said at the hearing.

WASHINGTON ― Hunter Biden’s decision not to testify before the Republican impeachment inquiry against his father made Wednesday’s hearing remarkably dull by recent standards.

House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-Ky.) left a spot at the witness table for the president’s son, holding out hope he might change his RSVP.

“Maybe he will show up,” Comer said in his opening remarks. “He has said he isn’t, but he loves saying one thing and doing another.”

But the chair remained empty for hours as Comer and his colleagues rehashed the same corruption accusations they’ve levied against President Joe Biden since last year. Republicans have struggled to substantiate the allegations, and it looks unlikely Republicans will draft articles of impeachment against the president.

“With any luck today marks the end of perhaps the most spectacular failure in the history of congressional investigations, the effort to find a high crime or misdemeanor committed by Joe Biden and then to impeach him for it,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the committee’s top Democrat, said in an opening statement.

The hearing saw no major outbursts, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) decided not to bring back her posters with compromising images taken from Hunter Biden’s laptop, and Hunter Biden did not crash the proceedings like he did in January.

The biggest accusation, which Comer, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans raised on Wednesday, is that in 2015 Joe Biden used the vice presidency to get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired in order to protect Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that paid Hunter Biden millions to serve on its board.

Several State Department officials responsible for U.S. policy toward Ukraine have previously testified, during interviews with lawmakers in 2019 and 2020, that they wanted the prosecutor fired because he was corrupt ― partly because he had refused to investigate alleged wrongdoing by Burisma’s owner ― and that Joe Biden had only been doing his job.

Ignoring that testimony, Republicans have instead pointed to an unverified tip from an FBI informant who claimed Burisma’s founder said he bribed Joe Biden. But the Justice Department last month said the informant had made it all up and charged him with making false statements.

The main Republican witness on Wednesday, however, was Tony Bobulinski, a businessman who briefly partnered with Hunter Biden on an ill-fated Chinese investment deal. Bobulinski had nothing to do with Hunter Biden’s Burisma work but has been an outspoken critic of the Biden family. He’s also complained that Hunter Biden “defrauded” him.

“Joe Biden was more than a participant and beneficiary of his family business,” Bobulinski said. “He was an active, aware enabler who met with business associates such as myself.”

Bobulinski described meeting Joe Biden in May 2017 at a California hotel where Biden delivered a cancer “moonshot” speech. He said he met Joe Biden in a hotel bar the night before the speech, and the two talked about their families and Bobulinski’s business background. The next day, after the speech, Bobulinski said he briefly talked to Biden again.

“He thanked me for helping his son and brother, and asked me to keep an eye on them as I walked him out to his car,” Bobulinski said.

Democrats previously pointed out, after Bobulinski related his encounters with Joe Biden during a closed-door interview last month, that according to Bobulinski’s own description, his conversations with Joe Biden weren’t about business. On Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) asked if he was saying he personally witnessed Biden commit a crime.

“I believe the fact that he was sitting with me while I was putting together a business deal,” Bobulinski said, later suggesting Biden had violated corruption and racketeering laws.

“I have yet to hear in the chairman’s opening [statement] the allegation they are specifically charging the president of the United States with,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I am hearing about the Biden family, I’m hearing about this and that, I am not hearing the specific allegation by this committee. What is it?”

The witness Democrats invited on Wednesday, Lev Parnas, had previously worked with Rudy Giuliani and former president Donald Trump on their scheme to force Ukraine to announce its own investigation against the Bidens. That effort backfired, leading to Trump’s first impeachment. Parnas wound up pleading guilty to campaign finance violations and separately confessing to his role in digging up Ukrainian dirt on the Bidens, a story he retold on Wednesday.

“In nearly a year traveling the world and interviewing officials in different countries, I found precisely zero evidence of the Bidens’ corruption in Ukraine,” Parnas said.

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