Washington — The GOP-led House Oversight and Accountability Committee released the 141 page transcript of its interview earlier this week with Devon Archer, a former business partner of Hunter Biden, whowith President Biden’s son. Archer testified that Hunter Biden was selling “the brand,” and it was the elder Biden who “brought the most value to the brand,” according to the transcript.
Archer told the committee staff and lawmakers, “I think Burisma would have gone out of business if it didn’t have the brand attached to it.” Then, Rep. Dan Goldman, Democrat of New York, asked Archer if he had any knowledge that Joe Biden had any direct involvement with Burisma, and Archer replied, “No.”
In response to questions from Congressman Goldman about the brand’s alleged impact, Archer said that it appeared to shield Burisma “because people would be intimidated to mess with them.”
In a separate line of questioning by Republican congressman Andy Biggs, of Arizona, Archer was asked whether the brand was about “Dr. Jill or anybody else. You’re talking about Joe Biden, Is that fair to say?”
“Yeah, that’s fair to say,” Archer replied.
Archer served alongside Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, beginning in 2014, while the elder Biden was vice president and deeply involved in Ukraine policy. Archer is widely believed to have facilitated Hunter Biden’s entry onto Burisma’s board.
Republicans on the committee asked Archer about two dinners, one in 2014 and another in 2015 at a restaurant in Washington, D.C., with Hunter Biden’s foreign business associates, both of which the then-vice president attended.
“I recall that he had dinner. It was a regular — not a long dinner, but dinner,” Archer said of the spring 2014 dinner. Russian billionaire businesswoman Yelena Baturina was there, as well as an executive from Burisma.
Archer testified that in April 2014 there was an incoming wire for $142,300 which he said was used by Hunter Biden to buy a sports car, “I believe it was a Fisker first and then a Porsche…For an expensive car, yes.”
Archer, according to the transcript, also testified that the elder Biden was put on speaker phone with business contacts, potential business associates including foreign national “maybe 20 times” during the course of Archer’s and Hunter Biden’s business relationship. Joe Biden was put on the phone to sell “the brand,” Archer said.
“Part of what was delivered is the brand,” he said. “I mean, it’s like anything, you know, if you’re Jamie Dimon’s son or any CEO. You know, I think that’s what we’re talking about, is that there was brand being delivered along with other capabilities and reach.”
Asked what the Bidens talked about when Joe Biden was on speaker phone, Archer responded, “Say, where are you, how’s the weather, how’s the fishing, how’s the — whatever — but, you know, it was very, you know, casual conversations.”
Archer was also asked if then-Vice President Biden regularly “checked in on his son, who’s admitted he’s had issues with drugs.”
“Every day,” Archer replied. But asked whether he had ever heard them discuss the “substance of Hunter Biden’s business,” he responded, “No.”
While the speakerphone calls were described as casual conversations, Archer also testified he believed there may be more involved. “I think that the calls were — that’s what it was. They were calls to talk about the weather, and that was signal enough to be powerful.”
After Archer was interviewed Monday, and before the transcript was available for independent review, Goldman said Archer testified Hunter Biden was selling the “illusion of access” to his father.
“His exact testimony was that Hunter Biden possessed actual experience and contacts in Washington, D.C., in the political sphere, in the lobbying sphere, in the executive branch, and that that is ultimately what he was providing to Burisma,” Goldman said. “But in return for pressure from Burisma, he had to give the illusion — he used that term, the illusion — of access to his father, and he tried to get credit for things that he, that Mr. Archer testified Hunter had nothing to do with, such as when Vice President Biden went to Ukraine on his own.”
The transcript shows Goldman used the term “illusion of access” in his line of questioning, and Archer’s answers were more nuanced.
He asked Archer, “Is it fair to say that Hunter Biden was selling the illusion of access to his father?”
Archer replied, “Yes.”
Goldman followed up, “So, when you talk about selling the brand, it’s not about selling access to his father. It’s about selling the illusion of access to his father. Is that fair?”
Archer replied, “Is that fair? I mean, yeah, that is — I think that’s — that’s almost fair.”
Goldman asked, “‘Almost fair.’ Why, ‘almost fair?'”
“Because there are touch points and contact points that I can’t deny that happened, but nothing of material was discussed,” Archer said.
Archer’s interview was the latest development in the GOP’s investigations into Hunter Biden as Republicans seek to tie his controversial business dealings to the president.
The White House has repeatedly denied that the president had any involvement in his son’s business ventures. White House spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement after Archer testified that House Republicans’ “own witnesses appear to be debunking their allegations.”
“It appears that the House Republicans’ own much-hyped witness today testified that he never heard of President Biden discussing business with his son or his son’s associates, or doing anything wrong,” he said last week.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell said earlier this week Archer’s testimony confirmed that he “did not involve his father in, nor did his father assist him in, his business” and that any interaction between Hunter Biden’s father and business associates “was simply to exchange small talk.”
The Oversight Committee has sought information on any possible involvement from the president in his son’s foreign business deals for months.to Archer’s attorney in June, Oversight Committee chairman James Comer said Archer “played a significant role in the Biden family’s business deals abroad, including but not limited to China, Russia, and Ukraine.”
Archer was convicted in 2018 of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud for his role in a scheme to defraud a Native American tribe and multiple pension funds. His conviction was overturned later that year, and U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abram wrote in her decision she was “left with an unwavering concern that Archer is innocent of the crimes charged.”
The conviction was later reinstated by a federal appeals court. Archer lost an appeal of that decision. He has not yet been sentenced.
— Ellis Kim and Michael Kaplan contributed reporting.
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