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House GOP asks Justice Dept. to charge Biden’s son, brother for making false statements

A trio of GOP-led House committees wrote to the Justice Department on Wednesday recommending that President Biden’s son Hunter and brother James be charged for making false statements to Congress during Republicans’ long-running impeachment inquiry into the president.

In a 65-page letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Republican chairmen of the House Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees — Reps. James Comer (Ky.), Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Jason T. Smith (Mo.), respectivelyoutlined what they say is “overwhelming evidence” that Hunter Biden and James Biden should be prosecuted for false statements and perjury about their business dealings while Joe Biden was vice president.

Hunter Biden, through his attorney Abbe Lowell, denied wrongdoing. James Biden did immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Justice Department has no legal obligation to act on the Republicans’ recommendation.

But Comer, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, previously suggested that the Justice Department could pursue new charges against the Bidens if Donald Trump wins the presidential election in November. House Republicans returned to Washington this week promising to more aggressively target the Biden administration after a New York jury found Trump guilty last week of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to an adult-film actress.

While Biden’s Justice Department is prosecuting Trump in separate cases in D.C. and Florida, the president has gone out of his way to avoid getting involved in or even talking about the cases in any but the most general terms. During a congressional hearing Tuesday, Garland firmly denied accusations from House Republicans who repeatedly claimed that the Justice Department was engaged with New York state prosecutors. Garland also appointed special counsels to handle investigations into Trump and Hunter Biden, as well as President Biden’s handling of classified documents, saying it would not be appropriate for him to directly oversee probes of his boss and of Trump as they face off in the upcoming presidential election.

Trump has repeatedly suggested he may use the Justice Department to exact revenge on his political enemies.

“When President Trump returns to the White House, it’s critical the new leadership at the DOJ have everything they need to prosecute the Biden Crime Family and deliver swift justice,” Comer wrote in a March fundraising email.

The criminal referrals are likely to be the culmination of a years-long investigation by House Republicans, who have tried and failed to prove that Biden was involved in and personally benefited from his son’s and brother’s foreign business dealings while he was vice president.

The long-running impeachment inquiry splintered the narrow House Republican majority between hard-liners who seek to immediately remove Biden from office and governing-minded conservatives who do not want to proceed without evidence linking Biden to any potential crimes.

Lacking enough votes to impeach the president, the committees investigating Biden’s family sharpened their focus on issuing criminal referrals and threatening to hold Cabinet officials in contempt of Congress.

“My views on impeachment in general? It’s a very high bar that they need to meet, and they needed to convince their colleagues that it was the right thing to do,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said in a March interview. “If they are declining to bring articles of impeachment, I think that is the right decision.”

The Justice Department is prosecuting Biden’s son, Hunter, on tax evasion charges and allegations that he lied about his drug use when buying a gun. A trial in the latter case is underway in Delaware, where Hunter’s ex-wife, an ex-girlfriend and the Delaware gun shop salesman who sold him the revolver testified Wednesday.

Any criminal referral issued by Congress to the Justice Department would be a symbolic move that carries no legal weight on its own, leaving prosecutors with the decision about whether to pursue criminal charges. But the criminal referrals could serve as a messaging vehicle for Republicans who have sought to legitimize unsubstantiated claims and theories about Biden and his family.

The House committee chairmen argue Hunter Biden perjured himself by testifying earlier this year that he had not sent a WhatsApp message to a Chinese energy conglomerate executive pressuring him to pay by invoking his father’s presence. Smith, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, released the text exchange last month.

They also allege Biden’s son “made false statements” about his role at a corporate entity that did business with foreign clients.

“This is nothing more than a desperate attempt by Republicans to twist Hunter’s testimony so they can distract from their failed impeachment inquiry and interfere with his trial,” said Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lawyer.

The chairmen said James Biden lied to Congress about whether President Biden, then a private citizen, met with Tony Bobulinski, a onetime business associate of Hunter Biden’s, in May 2017 when Hunter was pursuing a deal with CEFC, a Chinese energy conglomerate.

In a hearing earlier this year, Bobulinski has pointed to that meeting, arranged by Hunter and James Biden, as proof that Joe Biden was aware of his son’s business dealings with foreign entities. But when Bobulinski was asked about the 45-minute meeting in Los Angeles, he made no specific mention of Hunter’s pursuit of a deal with CEFC.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) issued a statement praising the referral and saying the Justice Department should open a criminal investigation to demonstrate that Garland “is not running a two-tiered system of justice.”

The Justice Department had not responded to the Republican referrals as of late Wednesday.

In a recent interview with Politico, Comer said that the referrals “don’t expire” and that if the current Justice Department doesn’t “try to uphold the law… maybe the next one will.”

The referrals may not appease hard-line Republicans who remain adamant about impeaching the president. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) threatened to force a vote on impeaching Biden this week using special rules that would force the House to take up the matter within 48 legislative hours.

After a Tuesday meeting with Johnson, Greene appears to have backed off her threat for now, allowing the House to adjourn for the week, but not without rebuking her colleagues for failing to aggressively target the president and his family.

“Republicans across the country and many Americans in general are sick and tired and fed up with a feckless, useless Republican Party conference that does nothing. They’re completely tired of committee hearings that do nothing,” she told reporters. “Here in this useless building, everybody just talks and does nothing. I’m over it.”

Jacqueline Alemany and Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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