House lawmakers investigating President Biden are seeking access to some emails from his time as vice president and all drafts of a speech he delivered to Ukrainian lawmakers in 2015 when his son had a high-paying job on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.
The House Oversight and Accountability Committee has sent a letter asking the National Archives and Records Administration for the records.
The letter marked lawmakers’ first move to gather material directly from Mr. Biden to investigate his involvement in his son Hunter Biden’s lucrative foreign business deals.
Lawmakers estimate that the deals provided at least $20 million to as many as 10 Biden family members and associates, but none of the money has been directly linked to the president.
“Joe Biden has stated there was ‘an absolute wall’ between his family’s foreign business schemes and his duties as Vice President, but evidence reveals that access was wide open for his family’s influence peddling,” said Rep. James Comer, Kentucky Republican and committee chairman. “The National Archives must provide these unredacted records to further our investigation into the Biden family’s corruption.”
Newly released bank records document how the Biden family and associates collected millions of dollars from Russian, Kazakh and Ukrainian oligarchs while Mr. Biden served as vice president. The letter also follows testimony from Hunter Biden’s former business partner Devon Archer that Mr. Biden attended two of Hunter Biden’s business dinners and phoned into 20 of his meetings with business associates.
The Washington Times reported in July that the National Archives released a White House scheduling email sent to the vice president on May 26, 2016, ahead of a call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The email recipients also included Hunter Biden, who was serving on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm hoping to shake off a state-run corruption investigation.
Mr. Comer is pursuing that specific email from the National Archives and unredacted versions of several others that were only partially disclosed by the archives and copied in Hunter Biden, including a scheduling card.
Mr. Comer is also seeking all of Mr. Biden’s official vice presidential emails and documents copied to Archer and Eric Schwerin, another Hunter Biden business associate.
Archer is facing one year in prison on an unrelated securities fraud conviction.
Mr. Comer also wants copies of all documents or communications using pseudonyms for Vice President Biden that he called “concerning.”
The email about the Poroshenko call was sent to Mr. Biden under the pseudonym Robert L. Peters. Mr. Biden is known to have used other pseudonyms, including Robin Ware and JRB Ware.
In the May 2016 call, Mr. Biden urged Mr. Poroshenko to continue reforming Ukraine’s prosecutor general office. It’s unclear whether Hunter Biden was involved in the call outside of getting looped in on his father’s email about it.
The call coincides with Hunter Biden’s $1 million-a-year job on the board of Burisma. Archer said Burisma hired Hunter Biden to help dodge charges from Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
Mr. Shokin was fired in March 2016. Mr. Biden bragged on camera in 2018 that he had threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees unless Ukrainian officials fired Mr. Shokin.
Mr. Comer is requesting drafts of Mr. Biden’s Dec. 9, 2015, speech to the Ukrainian parliament.
In the speech, Mr. Biden warned that corruption could cost Ukraine international support.
“And it’s not enough to set up a new anti-corruption bureau and establish a special prosecutor fighting corruption,” Mr. Biden said in the speech. “The Office of the General Prosecutor desperately needs reform.”
Three months later, Mr. Shokin was fired.
Mr. Comer told the National Archives that his committee is working on legislation “aimed at deficiencies it has identified in the current legal framework regarding ethics laws and disclosure of financial interests related to the immediate family of Vice Presidents and Presidents — deficiencies that may place American national security and interests at risk.”
• Susan Ferrechio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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