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House Republicans issue criminal referrals against James and Hunter Biden, alleging false testimony

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WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans issued criminal referrals Wednesday against President Joe Biden’s son and brother, accusing them of making false statements to Congress as part of the GOP’s yearlong impeachment inquiry.

The Republican leaders of the House Oversight and Accountability, Judiciary and Ways and Means committees sent a letter to the Justice Department recommending the prosecution of Hunter Biden and James Biden and accusing them of making a “conscious effort” to undermine the House’s investigation.

Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s attorney, said in a statement that the referrals are “nothing more than a desperate attempt by Republicans to twist Hunter’s testimony so they can distract from their failed impeachment inquiry and interfere with his trial.”

James Biden ‘s lawyer Paul Fishman echoed that sentiment, calling it a “baseless partisan action,” and reiterated that his client has “always maintained that Joe Biden never had any involvement in his business dealings.”

The referrals to Attorney General Merrick Garland and special counsel David Weiss add to the legal challenges facing Hunter Biden, who is now on trial in a federal court in Delaware for three felony charges stemming from the purchase of a gun in October 2018. The 54-year-old has been accused by prosecutors of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

On Capitol Hill, the Republicans pursued their wide-ranging investigation into Hunter Biden, separate from that federal case, are trying to tie the Democratic president to his son’s business dealings. Both Hunter and James Biden sat for hourslong interviews with lawmakers even as they failed to uncover evidence directly implicating Joe Biden in any wrongdoing.

Rep. Jason Smith, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said testimony from IRS whistleblowers shows that Hunter Biden lied to Congress at least three times in his Feb. 28 deposition.

“I think the Justice Department needs to look at that and act accordingly. When you lie to Congress, that is a serious violation of the law. It’s a felony,” said Smith, R-Mo. “The president’s son should not be treated any differently than any other American.”

The Justice Department, which will ultimately decide whether to take up the criminal referrals, declined to comment.

The focus on the Biden family resulting from Hunter Biden’s federal trial and the impeachment inquiry has proved to be a political and personal liability for the president. The proceedings are unfolding as the 2024 White House election looms, and allies of Joe Biden worry about the toll it will take on him. He is deeply concerned about the health and sustained sobriety of his only living son.

Since former President Donald Trump’s conviction on charges in New York, Republican leaders have assailed the Justice Department for what they claim is a “two-tiered” system of justice that targets conservatives. They play down the department’s current prosecution of Hunter Biden and the fact that other prominent Democrats have faced federal investigation during Joe Biden’s presidency.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said Wednesday that if Garland “wishes to demonstrate he is not running a two-tiered system of justice and targeting the president’s political opponents, he will open criminal investigations into James and Hunter Biden,” under the false statements and perjury statutes.

The false statements in question, according to the House committee chairmen, include references Hunter Biden made about what position he held at a corporate entity that received millions of dollars from foreign clients. The president’s son also “relayed an entirely fictitious account” about text messages between him and his Chinese business partner in which Hunter Biden allegedly invoked his father’s presence with him as part of a negotiation tactic, according to the GOP investigation.

There is also a focus on statements James Biden made about whether the president, while a private citizen, met with a former Biden family business partner.

House Democrats said Republicans are resorting to criminal referrals because their impeachment push has effectively flamed out despite 17 months of investigating the Biden family.

“This agonizingly protracted and completely fruitless investigation has proven only that President Biden was not part of, did not profit from, and took no official actions to benefit his family members’ business ventures,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight committee, said in a statement Wednesday.

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Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Alanna Durkin Richer and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

By FARNOUSH AMIRI
Associated Press

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