Biden’s brother tells impeachment probe he kept family and business separate

By Makini Brice and Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden’s brother on Wednesday told lawmakers pursuing an impeachment inquiry that their relationship had nothing to do with his business career, as a top Democrat said the probe is based on Russian disinformation and should be dropped.

In closed-door testimony, James Biden, 74, told investigators in the House of Representatives that he never asked his brother to take any official action on behalf of his businesses and that Joe Biden never did so, according to a source with direct knowledge of the interview.

He said Biden had no involvement or financial interests in any of the ventures he has pursued over the past 50 years.

“Those who have said or thought otherwise were either mistaken, ill informed, or flat-out lying,” he said in a prepared statement.

Republicans have spent months investigating whether Biden improperly benefited from family members’ foreign business ventures, but have so far failed to turn up evidence of wrongdoing. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, is due to testify next week.

The inquiry is facing new headwinds as prosecutors have charged a former FBI informant with lying about the Bidens’ alleged business dealings in Ukraine, a central focus of the probe. Republicans have repeatedly cited that informant’s claims to bolster their accusations.

In a court filing on Tuesday, prosecutors said the informant had admitted to contacts with “officials associated with Russian intelligence.”

U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, said that should be reason to drop the probe.

“This impeachment investigation is nothing but a wild goose chase that is based on Russian disinformation and propaganda,” he told reporters. “I don’t really know why we need to continue this charade any longer.”

Republicans downplayed the importance of the informant to their investigation and vowed to press on. One lawmaker involved in the probe, Representative William Timmons, questioned why prosecutors were only now charging the informant for statements he made in 2020. “It’s just really convenient,” he told reporters.

House Republicans allege that the president and his family, including James, improperly profited from policy decisions Biden participated in as vice president in President Barack Obama’s administration in 2009-2017.

Multiple witnesses have said in their interviews with lawmakers that Biden was not involved with his family’s business activities. The White House has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the inquiry as a partisan attack.

James Biden told investigators that Joe Biden lent him money in 2017 and 2018 – while out of office – and that he repaid those loans of $40,000 and $200,000 within two months, the source said. The loans were meant to allow James Biden to pay outstanding bills, the source said.

Hunter, who has worked as an artist, lawyer and investor, faces criminal tax and firearms charges. In court filings on Tuesday, he argued that those cases had been “infected” by the false claims of the former FBI informant, Alexander Smirnov.

Former President Donald Trump, the leading Republican contender to challenge Biden in the November election, has cheered on the investigation. Trump was impeached twice by the House, though he was acquitted by the Senate both times.

Hard-right Republicans have clamored for the impeachment of Biden and several of his cabinet officials since shortly after his election.

House Republicans last week narrowly voted to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s top border official, for failing to curb record crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Democratic-majority Senate will take up the Mayorkas case next week, though it almost certainly will vote to acquit him.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone, Rosalba O’Brien, Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)


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