House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) on Thursday requested that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provide unredacted documents and communications from President Biden’s time as vice president as part of the panel’s probe into the president’s son Hunter Biden.
Specifically, Comer is requesting that the National Archives provide the committee special unredacted access to a tranche of emails from Biden’s vice presidential records, which includes messages related to Ukraine and the Ukrainian gas company Burisma sent or received by President Biden or Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma at the time. Redacted copies of those emails were previously released publicly under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Comer is also asking for documents and communications in which Biden used a “pseudonym”; that included Hunter Biden or his business partners Eric Schwerin and Devon Archer; and all drafts of the speech that Biden delivered to the Ukrainian legislature in December 2015.
The request comes as part of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation into the foreign business dealings of Hunter Biden and his business associates, with an apparent focus on whether Hunter Biden’s business dealings with Ukraine impacted then-Vice President Biden’s policy decisions or financially benefited him, or if Hunter Biden received information that helped his business.
Comer and the committee have over the past few weeks released a series of transcripts and memos seeking to link Hunter Biden’s activities back to his father. Democrats have dismissed the allegations.
“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,” Comer said in a statement alongside the request to the National Archives.
“We already have evidence of then-Vice President Biden speaking, dining, and having coffee with his son’s foreign business associates. We also know that Hunter Biden and his associates were informed of then-Vice President Biden’s official government duties in countries where they had a financial interest. The National Archives must provide these unredacted records to further our investigation into the Biden family’s corruption,” the statement said.
The White House has previously said that the president was never in business with his son. Archer, who sat on the board of Burisma with Hunter Biden, testified to the Oversight Committee earlier this month that the president was never involved in their business decisions, and that he had no evidence or knowledge that the U.S. took any action to benefit Burisma or Hunter Biden.
Archer said that Hunter Biden portrayed the “illusion” of access to his father when he was vice president but did not have real influence.
Republicans, meanwhile, have pointed to Archer’s testimony that Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone multiple times while with foreign business associates to allege the president wasn’t being truthful when he said in 2019 he hadn’t discussed business with his son.
Archer said the speakerphone conversations largely consisted of small talk.
In the letter to the National Archives, Comer specifically points to a redacted email from May 27, 2016, with Biden’s daily schedule sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and Hunter Biden — saying that the committee has identified “Robert L. Peters” as a pseudonym for the then-vice president. The schedule for that day includes a call with the then-president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, Comer notes.
The schedule also notes that Biden ended the day at his lake house. That weekend marked the first anniversary of the death of Biden’s other son, Beau Biden, and the family had gathered in Delaware that weekend.
Comer said that it is “concerning” that the email was sent to the Robert L. Peters address, but did not elaborate on why.
It was reportedly common for high-profile elected officials and appointees in the administration to have secondary government email accounts, but an Oversight Committee spokesperson said it is concerning that Biden had multiple email accounts with fake names.
The redacted portion of that email is a phone number for the White House aide who sent the email. An unredacted version is available on archives of emails found from a hard drive that purportedly belonged to Hunter Biden. Comer has previously said the committee has access to a copy of that hard drive.
Comer also requests emails that were sent or received from “Robin Ware” and “JRB Ware,” two other pseudonyms that the New York Post previously reported President Biden used, one of which is a Google email address. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) have previously sent the National Archives requests for information about those pseudonyms.
In Biden’s 2015 speech to the Ukrainian Rada, the parliament of Ukraine, the then-vice president advocated for democracy and warned about corruption in the country, adding that the U.S. would not recognize Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea.