Last week, Joe Biden’s son Hunter confirmed that he had been under federal investigation over his “tax affairs” linked to business in Ukraine and China – he claims he handled the matters “legally and appropriately.”
On Sunday Senator Ron Johnson said it was wrong that Congress was not made aware Biden Jr. was under tax investigation before Donald Trump’s impeachment trial took place last winter.
— Senator Ron Johnson (@SenRonJohnson) December 14, 2020
According to Johnson, who is the chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, by the time the impeachment hearings began, the US authorities were already in possession of email exchanges reportedly highlighting Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and China and his father’s involvement in these matters.
The emails were allegedly found on a laptop Hunter left in a Delaware repair shop in 2018. The owner then handed the computer to the FBI, according to a New York Post article published last October. The store’s boss is also thought to have given a copy of the laptop’s hard drive to Trump’s personal Rudy Giuliani, who kindly shared some of its content with the media.
“I’m sympathetic for keeping investigations confidential unless there’s an indictment,” the senator told Fox News’s Sunday Morning Features.
“But when you’re talking about investigations within the political realm, particularly one that would have affected the impeachment trial of the sitting U.S. president in the U.S. Senate, that should have been relevant information, the fact that they had Hunter Biden’s computer that had all these emails back in December 2019,” Johnson said.
According to the Wisconsin senator, who has spent nearly a year looking into the Biden family’s business affairs, everything that happened before the trial “was part of the impeachment, we should have known that.”
In December 2019, President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for abusing power and obstructing Congress when he was accused of pressuring Ukraine into investigating the Biden family’s dealings in the country.
Hunter Biden joined the board of directors of Ukrainian gas company Burisma back in 2014, while his father Joe, then the US vice-president, was overseeing the Obama administration’s policy for Ukraine. Burisma Holdings was being investigated for corruption by Ukraine’s prosecutor-general Victor Shokin, who was removed from his post in March 2016. Joe Biden was later heard publicly bragging about his role in the sacking.
Barr a ‘Big Disappointment’
On 9 December, Hunter Biden confirmed that his taxes were being probed by the US Attorney’s Office in Delaware. The investigation was reportedly launched as early as 2018, but he maintains that he only learned about the ongoing review last week.
The Wall Street Journal later reported that US Attorney General William Barr was aware of multiple probes being launched into Hunter’s tax affairs but did not make them public due to the Justice Department’s policy of non-interference during electoral season.
President Trump said that Barr’s silence on the matter was a “big disappointment”:
“Why didn’t Bill Barr reveal the truth to the public, before the Election, about Hunter Biden. Joe was lying on the debate stage that nothing was wrong, or going on – Press confirmed. Big disadvantage for Republicans at the polls!” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
According to Senator Johnson, he has no recollection of discussing the GOP senators’ investigation into Hunter Biden with Barr.
GOP Report Into Hunter Biden’s Affairs
Biden family’s dealings and potential conflict of interest linked to Hunter’s post at Burisma have been thoroughly scrutinised by Johnson and another Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
In September, they unveiled a joint report stating that Hunter Biden and his associates were a part of “millions of dollars of questionable financial transactions” with individuals linked to the Chinese Communist Party and the office of an ex-Moscow mayor.
In a public letter published on Saturday, Johnson said that he and Grassley have continued to seek information and testimonies from Hunter and his associates, but to no avail.
“Attorneys for Hunter and James Biden have refused to cooperate with the committees,” Johnson said, while listing individuals who are said to have received requests for an interview before the Congress.
“It should be noted that, collectively, President Trump’s family and associates produced documents and agreed to appear at interviews with a number of congressional committees.”
Johnson maintained that “it would be nice, and in the public’s interest, if the Biden family and their associates would be equally cooperative with the Senate, the American people we represent, and the mainstream media that has now joined our long interest in these crucial matters.”
George Mesires, a lawyer representing both Hunter and James Biden (Joe Biden’s brother), refused to comment when approached by the media.