Home » Biden brother testifies as Republicans urged to halt impeachment-push ‘circus’ | Joe Biden

Biden brother testifies as Republicans urged to halt impeachment-push ‘circus’ | Joe Biden

by John Jefferson
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A top Democrat urged Republicans to “fold up the tent to this circus show” and stop attempting to impeach Joe Biden, after the president’s youngest brother, James Biden, testified to the House oversight and judiciary committees.

The closed-door session was held after the revelation that a former FBI informant, charged with making up a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving the Bidens and a Ukrainian energy company, had contacts with officials affiliated with Russian intelligence.

Speaking to reporters, the Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin said: “The impeachment investigation essentially ended yesterday, in substance if not in form, with the explosive revelation that [Alexander] Smirnov’s allegations … were concocted along with Russian intelligence agents.

“It appears … the whole thing is not only obviously false and fraudulent, but a product of Russian disinformation and propaganda.”

Saying the morning’s interview had produced “nothing indicating Joe Biden had anything to do with the business ventures of Hunter Biden [the president’s son] or James Biden”, Raskin added: “I’m restating my call to [oversight committee] chairman [James] Comer and Speaker [Mike] Johnson to fold up the tent to this circus show. It’s really over at this point.”

In a combative opening statement, released to the press, James Biden said those alleging corruption were “mistaken, ill-informed or flat-out lying”.

Hunter Biden, whose troubled personal life, legal jeopardy and business affairs provide the chief fuel for Republican allegations, is due to be interviewed next week.

Until then, Washington will continue to digest and debate the news that prosecutors have tied a key Republican source to agents of Russian intelligence.

Raskin stressed that Smirnov’s alleged ties were outlined “under oath yesterday by the US attorney, the special counsel in the investigation, that’s David Weiss, who was a Trump appointee”.

He also sought to tie the affair to the ongoing saga of Russian interference in US elections and links between Moscow and Donald Trump, the former president and now the probable Republican presidential nominee.

Smirnov was arrested in Nevada last week, charged with falsely reporting to the FBI in June 2020 that executives associated with Burisma paid Hunter Biden and Joe Biden $5m each in 2015 or 2016, when Joe Biden was vice-president to Barack Obama. Prosecutors connected Smirnov and Russian agents on Tuesday, in filings urging a judge to keep him in custody.

Prosecutors said Smirnov admitted “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story” about Hunter Biden. They said Smirnov’s contacts with Russian officials were recent and extensive and due to continue. Smirnov was said to have had numerous contacts with a person he described as the “son of a former high-ranking government official” and “someone with ties to a particular Russian intelligence service”.

Prosecutors said Smirnov posed a flight risk. The judge ordered him released on bond.

When Trump was president, his first impeachment arose from his search for dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine. Republicans have sought to impeach Biden in return, with Smirnov’s claims being promoted by senior politicians and media allies, particularly Fox News.

The White House did not comment on the Smirnov revelations. But Politico quoted “a person close to Joe Biden” as saying they “laid bare how unscrupulous the entire [Republican party] and their enablers in rightwing media have become.

“Republicans in Congress ought to be facing the crushing burden of a massive scandal of their own making right now: an impeachment based on what might be a Russian intelligence operation. If nothing else, a criminal lie, based on the indictment.”

Prosecutors say Smirnov had only routine business dealings with the Ukrainian company, Burisma, starting in 2017 when Joe Biden was out of office. Smirnov made the bribery allegations, prosecutors said, after “express[ing] bias” against Biden while he was a presidential candidate in 2020.

Republicans have now distanced themselves from Smirnov, saying they will continue to “follow the facts”. But Comer, the oversight chair, is reportedly considering the potential cost of an impeachment vote, particularly after the impeachment of Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, first failed then squeaked through by a single vote.

On the flip side, the Biden impeachment offers a way to deflect attention from Trump’s legal challenges. Among 91 criminal charges, 34 concerning hush-money payments to an adult film star are to be considered in a looming New York trial.

On Wednesday, two far-right Republicans, Jim Jordan and Andy Biggs, told CNN the Smirnov revelations did not lessen their determination to impeach. Biggs claimed: “We have lots of evidence.” CNN also quoted an aide to the impeachment inquiry as saying the inclusion then deletion of a reference to Smirnov in a letter to a potential witness, first reported by the Huffington Post, was simply a clerical error.

James Biden is a businessman long linked to his brother’s political career. Now 74, in 2022 he told the Washington Post: “I’m the guy who assists in everything. When it comes to my family, I try to be as supportive as I can. But this notion of ‘fixer’, or any reference that has a negative connotation, is offensive.”

Republicans allege cheques addressed by James Biden to Joe Biden when the latter was out of office are evidence of corruption. News outlets have said the cheques simply repaid personal loans.

In his opening statement to the Republican-led committees, James Biden said his brother had “never had any involvement or any direct or indirect financial interest” in his business affairs over 50 years.

He also said he had “always kept my professional life separate from our close personal relationship”; said he had “never asked my brother to take any official action on behalf of me, my business associates or anyone else”; and charged those claiming otherwise with being “either mistaken, ill-informed or flat-out lying”.

He added: “With my appearance here today, the committees will have the information to conclude that the negative and destructive assumptions about me and my relationship with my brother Joe are wrong. There is no basis for this inquiry to continue.”

Associated Press contributed to this report

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