House Democrats on Tuesday blocked an inquiry into 150 reports of suspicious financial activity surrounding the international business dealings of Hunter Biden and other Biden family members, which Republicans said could compromise President Joe Biden.
Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee generally had a disciplined message in opposing oversight of potential conflicts of interest for the president, his son Hunter, and his brother Jim: What about Donald Trump?
Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., listed matters such as the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and insinuations that Trump didn’t separate his many businesses from his work as president.
Connolly also brought up Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s president, which House Democrats used as the preface for the 45th president’s first impeachment, among other issues.
“What happened to investigations about Donald Trump?” Connolly asked, with a tone of outrage.
The Virginia Democrat added: “I don’t know that there is any kind of objective observer who would say there is nothing to see in the Trump years, that it was not a fertile ground for any kind of investigation.”
For about two hours, Connolly and other committee members debated a proposal from ranking member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., to push the Biden administration to hand over about 150 documents held by the Treasury Department that are categorized as suspicious activity reports regarding Hunter Biden and other Biden family members.
By a voice vote, the committee opposed sending Comer’s resolution to the floor.
“I’m going to pose another question to my colleagues across the aisle,” Comer said during the debate. “Does anyone in the majority party dispute our allegations that Hunter Biden was influence peddling with our adversaries? I’m sure they will want to have time to speak to dispute that.”
The Kentucky Republican added: “We are investigating Hunter Biden because we fear that he has compromised Joe Biden, which is compromising our national security.”
In response, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said the “laser focus of the majority” includes “defending a woman’s right to choose against their [Republicans’] theocratic schemes.”
Raskin also talked about the “bipartisan” House select committee investigating the Capitol riot and what he called “Donald Trump’s incitement of domestic violent extremists.”
Raskin is a member of the House panel looking into the events of Jan. 6, 2021, along with six other Democrats and two Republicans, all appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
After 11 minutes of discussion Tuesday by other members, Comer spoke again.
“Again, I’m giving the Democrats on this committee every chance to say Hunter Biden was not influence peddling with our adversaries, and I’m hearing nothing but crickets,” Comer said. “The fact that we are hearing crickets shows that we need to provide oversight and we need to conduct investigations.”
During an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Biden again said that his son’s business activities overseas, including in China and Ukraine, never presented a conflict of interest.
“I love my son, number one. He fought– an addiction problem. He overcame it,” the president said of Hunter Biden in his interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley. “He wrote about it. And no, there’s not a single thing that I’ve observed at all from that [sic] would affect me or the United States relative to my son Hunter.”
Republicans on the committee requested that the Treasury Department provide about 150 suspicious activity reports, called SARs, from banks about the Biden family’s financial activity. Such information had been available upon request to members of Congress, but the Biden Treasury Department reversed the policy and refused to comply with the request, Comer said.
“There are changes by Joe Biden to the ability of Congress to get suspicious activity reports,” Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., said during the debate. “I am a recovering banker. When we issue suspicious activity reports, it’s not just thrown out like a bag of shells. It’s done for a specific reason, because there are concerns about criminalities surrounding financial transactions.”
If Hunter Biden and other members of the Biden family have more than 100 suspicious activity reports, Congress does need to know about this, because a funny thing is happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Joe Biden is president of the United States. His son—who is not a kid, he’s 50 years old—is running around the world cutting deals.
On May 25, Comer wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen requesting copies of all special activity reports generated because of the financial transactions of Hunter Biden and other Biden associates and family members.
House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., called committee Republicans’ pursuit of information about the suspicious activity reports on the Biden family “nakedly partisan.”
Maloney then brought up the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the FBI’s investigation of whether Trump took classified information from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Trump has said he declassified the documents before leaving office, and the former president has not been formally charged with doing anything illegal.
“These same Republicans turned a blind eye when Donald Trump incited a deadly riot in the Capitol and illegally removed highly classified presidential records,” Maloney said. “Today, our Republican friends have chosen to spend our committee’s time on a resolution that seeks to smear President Biden by targeting his family.”
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