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‘There was no business conversation’

WASHINGTON — Testimony from Hunter Biden’s business partner, Devon Archer, this week before the House Oversight Committee undermined claims by Republican lawmakers that his appearance would implicate President Joe Biden in Hunter’s business dealings.

The Republican-led House Oversight Committee recently released the transcript of testimony Archer gave Monday during a 5-hour closed-door meeting as Republicans spark a wide-ranging investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings.

For months, Republicans have alleged that President Joe Biden engaged in his son Huner’s business dealings while he was vice president and was part of a bribery scheme involving executives at Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company of which Hunter Biden served as a board member. The White House has rejected the charges against him.

Here are five takeaways from Archer’s testimony to lawmakers.

Joe Biden didn’t talk about business during calls, Archer claims

President Joe Biden, then the vice president, was regularly put on speakerphone by his son, Hunter Biden, and his Burisma business associates, but Archer told the Oversight Committee that business dealings were never discussed.

“I think you have to understand there was no business conversation about a dressing table or a fee or anything like that,” Archer told the committee. “It was, you know, just general niceties and, you know, conversations in general about geography, weather, whatever it might be.”

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Archer testified Monday that Hunter Biden put his father, Joe Biden, on speakerphone about 20 times to talk to Burisma executives about Archer’s 10-year business partnership with Hunter. This includes the times Archer, Hunter Biden and other business associates gathered at dinner parties in Paris and Beijing.

Archer said Hunter Biden spoke to his father every day “and sometimes made it clear that he was talking to his father, and sometimes he put him on speaker.”

“There are points of contact and points of contact that I can’t deny happened,” Archer said, referring to contacts with Biden when he was vice president. “But nothing material was discussed.” He said some of the things Hunter and Joe Biden discussed over speaker were, “Where are you, what’s the weather like, how’s the fishing?”

Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s former business partner, passes through security as he arrives on Capitol Hill to testify behind closed doors before the House Oversight Committee in the Republican-led investigation into President Biden’s son, in Washington, Monday, July 31 . 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ORG XMIT: DCSA101

Archer says he saw no evidence Joe Biden directed policies to help Hunter and Burisma

Archer testified that he was unaware of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden to change US policy in favor of Hunter Biden’s business endeavors.

“I have no basis for knowing whether he changed the policy in favor of his son,” Archer said. “I have no knowledge.”

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Archer said this includes that he has no reason to believe that then-Vice President Biden called for the firing of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin for any reason other than his stated goal of continuing US anti-corruption policies in Ukraine. to put. Republicans have accused Joe Biden of calling for Shokin’s removal in exchange for payments to protect Burisma, which was under investigation.

“I have no evidence or idea that he fired him for that reason,” Archer said.

Hunter Biden provided Biden’s “brand.”

Archer told the committee that Hunter Biden never “openly” told business associates that he wanted to use his father for a specific purpose. But he said Hunter was trying to prove his worth to Burisma by supplying the Biden family’s “brand.”

For example, the House Committee referenced a 2014 email Hunter Biden wrote to Archer in which he said, “My husband’s upcoming trip should be characterized as part of our advice and thinking,” referring to the visit of then-Deputy President Joe Biden to Ukraine.

Addressing the email, Archer said he believes “obviously he’s not bringing his dad, but he’s saying, you know, ‘I’m going to take credit for it’.” He later added that Hunter Biden later tried to give the “illusion of access to his father.”

Archer also said part of the reason Hunter would put his father on speaker in professional settings is to deliver the Biden family brand. In a later conversation, Archer said, “DC was the brand.”

Joe Biden attended two dinners in Washington with Hunter Biden and associates

Archer, Hunter Biden, Bursima associates and foreign oligarchs have also met Joe Biden in person twice for dinner at the posh Washington restaurant Café Milano, according to Archer, once in 2014 and another time in 2015.

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The first dinner was a birthday dinner. Archer said he doesn’t remember the conversation that took place.

“He came to dinner, and we ate and talked a little bit about the world, I think, and the weather, and then everybody went — everybody went away,” Archer said.

The other dinner was for the World Food Program USA, in which Hunter was chairman of the board.

“As I’ve said across the board, no details of business deals were ever discussed at any of these, but it was a fun, you know, conversation,” Archer told the committee. “It was a dinner conversation.”

Republican claims of ‘bribery’ not substantiated by testimony

Republicans have pointed to an allegation received in 2020 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Joe Biden each received a $5 million bribe payment from Burisma to facilitate the gas company’s desire to expand into the US while it addresses the allegations of corruption in Ukraine.

The alleged plan is outlined in an FBI FD-1023 form that Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, released July 20.

“It cost $5 (million) to pay one Biden, and 5 (million) to pay the other Biden,” Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma Holdings, allegedly told the confidential informant, according to FBI notes.

But Archer said he is unaware of any $5 million payments ever made to Biden and disagrees that the FBI form is a sign that Zlochevsky bribed Joe Biden. Archer said Ukrainian businessmen like to brag.

“Very similar to DC operators,” Archer said. “In Ukraine, in Russia they brag about how much – they brag about bigger bribes than they actually give.”

Archer said he also has no knowledge to support another claim by Republicans that Hunter Biden played a role in Joe Biden making an official vice presidential trip to Ukraine in 2014.

“I have no idea. I have no knowledge,” Archer said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 5 Takeaways from Devon Archer’s House Testimony Transcript

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