Lackluster Impeachment Hearing With Biden Associates Could Signal Looming End to the Probe

Instead of impeaching the president, the investigation could simply end with criminal referrals to the Justice Department from the Oversight Committee.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Representative James Comer. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

House Republicans’ push to impeach President Biden has hit yet another snag as their second public hearing attempting to detail the Biden family’s alleged corruption focused more on personalities than the substance of the allegations. The two witnesses brought forth by the GOP in their effort to make their corruption case have been marred by criminal charges and allegations of unethical behavior. 

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee hosted what was meant to be a blockbuster hearing in the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden. The chairman, Congressman James Comer, invited two of Hunter Biden’s former business partners — Tony Bobulinski and James Galanis — to detail their interactions with the president while he was serving as vice president. 

Galanis — speaking via video conference because he is serving a lengthy prison sentence in Alabama — detailed what he felt was a damning disclosure about the president. While the elder Mr. Biden was serving as vice president, his son once called him during a business dinner with two Russian oligarchs, a former mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, and his wife, Yelena Baturina. 

“The entire value-add of Hunter Biden to our business was his family name and his access to his father, Vice President Joe Biden,” Galanis told committee members. Galanis said that the first son called his father and put him on speakerphone, which then led to the exchange of “some pleasantries” between Luzkhov, who died in 2019, and Ms. Baturina. 

Galanis then said that the younger Mr. Biden told his father that the group was “moving ahead” with a business partner and that he would call the then-vice president after dinner. The president then told attendees to “be good to my boy.”

Galanis was meant to appear alongside another friend and associate of the younger Mr. Biden, Devon Archer, who told the Oversight Committee in 2023 that he had seen his friend pull that “party trick” of putting his father on speaker phone on at least 20 occasions. Archer — who, along with Galanis, was convicted of stealing tens of millions of dollars from a Native American tribe in South Dakota — did not appear at the hearing. 

Hunter Biden also declined to appear alongside his former business partners, who have alleged he has engaged in corrupt practices with his father. 

Mr. Bobulinski faced criticism from Democrats for being a tool of the Trump campaign. In 2020, just before the first presidential debate, Mr. Bobulinski held a press conference during which he said explicitly that the elder Mr. Biden was involved with his son’s business affairs, including by calling into meetings and meeting extensively with business partners such as Mr. Bobulinski himself. 

Mr. Bobulinski told committee members that he had met with the then-vice president at the Milken Conference in California, where they sat for a lengthy period of time to discuss Mr. Bobulinski’s own background. 

The first son’s attorney says that Mr. Bobulinski is lying about that interaction and that Mr. Bobulinski only met the vice president briefly on a rope line where they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries in a hotel lobby. 

When asked by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if he had seen the president commit a crime, Mr. Bobulinski listed “corruption” and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, but he could not detail specific actions that would merit prosecution. 

The Democrats’ chosen witness for the day was a throwback from the Trump era, Lev Parnas, who once worked with Mayor Giuliani to dig up dirt on the Biden family in Ukraine. Parnas was arrested in 2019 for attempting to bribe a member of Congress, Pete Sessions. He was convicted in 2022 and was released from prison in September 2023. 

Parnas offered a strong defense of the Biden family and said that he himself had been used as a tool of the Trump campaign in the lead-up to the 2020 election. “The American people have been lied to by Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and various cohorts of individuals in government and media positions,” Parnas told impeachment investigators. “They created falsehoods to serve their own interests knowing it would undermine the strength of our nation.”

“I was a key participant and a witness to numerous efforts to prove that Joe and Hunter Biden were linked to corruption in Ukraine,” he continued. “In nearly a year traveling the world and interviewing officials in different countries, I found precisely zero evidence of the Bidens’ corruption in Ukraine.”

By the end of the week, Republicans will hold just a three-seat majority in the House. A number of GOP members have said that they are unwilling to support impeachment articles against Mr. Biden because they view it as a “tit-for-tat” process that has been weaponized by Democrats, as Congressman Mike Gallagher says. Another member, Congressman Tom McClintock, says he so far sees no evidence of “high crimes or misdemeanors” committed by the president. 

The impeachment inquiry could instead wind down with a number of criminal referrals, specifically for violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the case of the younger Mr. Biden or perjury in the case of his uncle, James Biden. Republicans say that the president’s brother, James Biden, lied to committee members in a deposition about two “loan repayments” sent to the elder Mr. Biden after the end of the Obama administration. 

Criminal referrals are simply resolutions that urge the Department of Justice to file charges against individuals who are under congressional investigation. The Select January 6 Committee recommended criminal charges against President Trump and the election-denying attorney John Eastman at the conclusion of its investigation, but the charges were never explicitly taken up by the justice department. Special Counsel Jack Smith charged Mr. Trump on the basis of his own investigation, not just the January 6 Committee’s. 

The New York Sun

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