Commentary by Philip Wegmann originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have requested that the National Archives turn over all documents and flight manifests regarding trips that Hunter Biden took on Air Force Two, as well as Marine Two, during his father’s time as vice president.
It is the latest in the ongoing probe of how the younger Biden made millions of dollars overseas and whether his father, the current president, improperly benefited from those dealings. For months, Republicans have searched for a connection to tie the two men together.
The White House has alternately insisted that President Biden never discussed business with his son and also that he was never in a business relationship with him. And there is not yet evidence that the president either profited from Hunter Biden’s overseas business activity or took actions in his official capacity because they would benefit the Bidens.
But Oversight Chairman James Comer believes he may soon find a link: flight manifests.
“Devon Archer, a longtime Biden family associate, has stated it is ‘categorically false’ that Joe Biden played no role in his son’s foreign business dealings,” Comer wrote in a Wednesday letter to the Archives obtained early by RealClearPolitics.
“Flights on Air Force Two around the world to seal business deals,” he said, “are evidence of that role.”
Throughout his father’s time as vice president, Hunter Biden often tagged along on domestic and international flights. A Fox News report cited in Comer’s letter found that he traveled to at least 15 different countries during that time. After founding the consulting firm Rosemont Seneca Partners, he flew with his father on Air Force Two to Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, and Mexico.
“I can catch a ride with him,” Hunter Biden wrote a business associate who was reportedly a foreign agent ahead of an official trip to Belgium and Spain in April of 2010, according to emails contained on the laptop that the president’s son abandoned at a repair shop.
Flying with his father was so frequent that Hunter Biden often informed staff to make room for him on Air Force Two at the last minute. “Plan on me being in plane,” he wrote Kathy Chung, a former aide to the vice president, less than 12 hours before a 2012 cross-country flight to California.
Family members of presidents and vice presidents often tag along during official travel, but it is rare that those next of kin are also employed as international business consultants – a fact that Obama administration officials reportedly worried would invite questions that Hunter Biden was “leveraging access for his benefit.”
One trip was of particular concern to Democrats in 2013 – and now to Republicans in 2023.
When the vice president stepped off Air Force Two onto a Beijing tarmac, he waved to the photographers. His son was by his side that year, dressed in a black overcoat. Hunter Biden had asked his father if he could travel with him during a state visit to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The vice president agreed, and Hunter Biden used the trip to meet with representatives from BHR Partners, a private investment firm controlled by the Bank of China.
On the ground in Beijing, Hunter Biden arranged for his father to meet Jonathan Li, who ran a Chinese private equity fund called Bohai Capital. After the vice president departed, they reportedly had a meeting. He later told the New Yorker, who first reported the incident, he couldn’t understand the fuss over the meeting.
“How do I go to Beijing, halfway around the world,” Hunter Biden told the magazine of his meeting with his Chinese business associates, “and not see them for a cup of coffee?”
Republicans don’t find the foreign travel on government jets, and subsequent private business, so innocent. The Oversight Committee points to that travel as an obvious abuse.
“Then-Vice President Biden’s misuse of Air Force Two and Marine Two is indicative of yet another way in which the President has abused his various offices of public trust and wasted taxpayer money to benefit his family’s enterprise, which consisted of nothing more than access to Joe Biden himself,” Comer wrote in the letter.
Oversight wants the National Archives to pass along “all documents and communications” regarding Hunter Biden’s travel on Air Force Two and Marine Two as well as “all Air Force Two and Marine Two manifests.”
They are also seeking any records related to the president’s business associates, namely Devon Archer, who previously testified before Congress; Eric Schwerin, who was frequently admitted into the Obama White House; and Jeffrey Cooper, who reportedly handled the Biden family finances.
Unlike Hunter Biden, however, there aren’t any public records of those individuals flying with the former vice president.
Curiously, the committee is also requesting documents “referring to or relating to any security incidents on Air Force Two or Marine Two” during Biden’s time as vice president.
“The walls are closing in on the Biden Family due to consistent and diligent efforts by House Republicans who’ve followed the money, conducted meticulous interviews and hearings, and uncovered undeniable corruption,” said Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, who co-signed the letter with Comer, in a statement.
“The American people deserve to know how much their former Vice President and current President abused his power to shake down foreign governments and enrich his family to the tune of millions of dollars,” he added.
By Philip Wegmann – This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire