Eric Schwerin, a Biden family friend who partnered with the president’s son, Hunter Biden, in business and also did bookkeeping for the father, told lawmakers Tuesday he did not know Joe Biden was benefiting financially from his son’s work.
“Given my knowledge of his finances and the explicit instructions he gave to his financial advisors, the allegation that he engaged in inappropriate conduct for his own benefit or that of his family is absurd,” Schwerin said in an opening statement obtained by HuffPost.
Four other associates of Hunter Biden also told lawmakers this month that they never witnessed any inappropriate behavior by the president, nor any efforts by his son to implicate him in a trade agreement with foreigners.
It’s a continuation of the pattern started last year by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), who has struggled to prove his accusations that the president is is enriched by participating in his son’s alleged “influence peddling” schemes.
“We have a consistent number of witnesses telling us that Joe Biden was simply not involved in any of the business deals that Republicans are talking about,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Mary.), the party’s top Democrat. oversight committee, told HuffPost.
Comer said Tuesday that Schwerin’s testimony actually revealed something bad: that Schwerin, while in business with Hunter Biden, provided accounting services to the elder Biden when he was vice president – free of charge. (Schwerin’s involvement in family finances has long been known.)
“This guy did Joe Biden’s books, paid his electric bills and deposited his paycheck and his income tax refund, and he never billed Joe Biden – it’s a gift, it’s is a clear ethical violation on the part of Joe Biden,” Comer said on Fox. News. “There was no wall between Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and his plans as the president always said. »
Ethics rules generally prohibit gifts (including discounted goods or services) to those responsible for the executive branch, even if there is exceptions, including for gifts based on a personal or family relationship. It is possible that Schwerin accounting benefits from an exception.
“A free gift of accounting assistance from a family friend appears to fall within the scope of the personal relationship exception that applies to government employees under applicable accounting ethics rules. gifts,” Virginia Canter, chief ethics advisor for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in. Washington, said in a statement to HuffPost.
The White House declined to comment.
Still, the mixed bank accounts and free accounting are a far cry from the corruption schemes alleged by Republicans — including a Ukrainian quid pro quo that allegedly involved $5 million in bribes paid to father and son in exchange for official favors . Republicans obtained thousands of pages of bank records from the Biden family, and all they’ve revealed so far is that Joe Biden helped her son buy a truck in 2018.
The younger Biden established multiple overseas business relationships during and after his father’s tenure as vice president, including a lucrative contract with a Ukrainian gas company and an ill-fated venture with a company backed by a Chinese energy company . Hunter Biden wrote in his 2021 memoir that the death of his brother, Beau Biden, in 2015 pushed him toward high-paying jobs that fueled his crack addiction until he got sober in 2019. Republicans said his lack of experience in the energy sector suggests foreign nationals were only paying him to join his father.
As for the favorable testimony of Biden associates, it is not surprising that longtime friends are defending the family against corruption allegations, but they are doing so under threat of criminal sanctions for false testimony as they addressed to legislators who already have receipts. In other words, if they lied, they could be arrested and sent to prison. Their testimony therefore counts.
- Rob Walker told lawmakers last week that he began working with Hunter Biden in 2008. “In business, the opportunities we pursued together were varied, valuable, well-founded and well within the bounds of legitimate business activities ” Walker said in a keynote address. statement. “To be clear, President Biden, whether in office or as a private citizen, has never been involved in any of the business activities we have engaged in. »
- Mervyn Yan, a real estate consultant who worked with Hunter Biden in 2017 on possible investments with the Chinese energy company, said Joe Biden was not involved in the company, according to a source familiar with the deposition, and that he didn’t expect it. the elder Biden would benefit. Yan’s lawyers said in a letter that their client “was unaware of any involvement by President Biden in his son’s business activities.”
- Kevin Morris, who befriended Hunter Biden in 2019 and covered his expenses as he embarked on an art career, said that he had “no expectation of receiving anything from Hunter’s father or the Biden administration in return for his assistance to Hunter, nor did I ask anything from President Biden or to its administration.
- George Bergès, gallery owner who sold the works of Hunter Biden, said that there was nothing political in his relationship with the president’s son, and that he abandoned him as a customer last year because the political backlash was a real headache. “When I first met him, I never would have thought – I think his dad hadn’t even decided to run, so I never would have thought he would run, win the inauguration, then would be a sitting president,” Bergès said, noting that he had repeatedly donated to Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Next month, lawmakers will hear from the president’s brother, James Biden, as well as Hunter Biden. Republicans want to speak to several other people, including Tony Bobulinski, a former Hunter Biden associate who the Trump campaign recruited to participate in an event before a 2020 presidential debate.
It’s unclear whether Republicans have set a date for Bobulinski’s interview, but it’s possible his testimony will shed a different light on Hunter Biden’s work.
“I heard Joe Biden say he never discussed business with Hunter. This is false,” Bobulinski said during the 2020 event. “I have direct knowledge of this because I have dealt directly with the Biden family, including Joe Biden. »