As Barack Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden sent more than 5,000 emails under a host of false names and abused federal resources to facilitate his son, Hunter Biden’s foreign influence-peddling businesses, Republicans say. The combination of corruption and federal agencies refusing to make the records public leaves America “on the verge of being a banana republic,” according to one U.S. congressman.
Details broke this week about two scandals threatening to engulf the 46th president as the 2024 election heats up. First, Congress revealed that then-Vice President Biden improperly used Air Force Two and Marine Two to whisk Hunter Biden to 15 countries, where he often struck business deals enriching himself and at least nine members of the Biden family, possibly including “The Big Guy,” Joe Biden. Second, a legal watchdog has sued the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) for refusing to turn over 5,138 emails that Joe Biden sent using three separate aliases — including “Robert L. Peters,” “Robin Ware,” and “JRB ware” [sic] — while he was vice president.
Video footage captured Hunter Biden accompanying his father on taxpayer-funded travel during the Obama administration, including a 2013 trip to China that cemented Hunter’s business ties to Beijing. “Then-Vice President Joe Biden abused Air Force Two by allowing his son to jet set around the world to sell ‘The Brand’ to enrich the Biden family. This is yet another example of then-Vice President Biden abusing his public office for his family’s financial gain,” said Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, which is spearheading numerous investigations into presidential corruption. He demanded NARA leader, U.S. Archivist Colleen Shogan, to turn over all travel-related records about the use of the taxpayer-funded aircraft by Hunter Biden (and his business associates Eric Schwerin, Devon Archer, and Jeffrey Cooper) by September 13.
Yet another watchdog accuses NARA of withholding records for years showing that Joe Biden would send emails under false names while vice president, and copy Hunter Biden on information related to Ukraine. The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about Biden’s use of the pseudonymous government email account Robert.L.Peters@pci.gov, as well as two Gmail accounts: email@example.com and JRBWare@gmail.com. The Office of Vice President copied several of the emails sent to these accounts to Hunter Biden, including a May 26, 2016, email about a scheduled phone call between then-Vice President Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. At the time, Hunter received $83,333 a month as a board member of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. Biden would later admit to threatening to deny Poroshenko $1 billion in loan guarantees unless he fired prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Burisma.
Conservatives have already waited years to see these emails. SLF first asked NARA for these emails two years ago, but NARA said it could not produce the emails until this year for technical reasons. This summer, NARA confirmed the president sent thousands of such messages — but that it may deny or heavily redact the materials before making them available.
“We have performed a search of our collection for Vice Presidential records related to your [June 9 FOIA] request and have identified approximately 5,138 email messages, 25 electronic files and 200 pages of potentially responsive records,” said a letter sent via email on June 24 by Stephannie Oriabure, the director of NARA’s archival operations division. However, the emails “must be processed in order to respond to your request,” and the legal watchdogs may not receive a copy of all messages, as some “may not be applicable to your specific topic.” NARA said it placed their “request in our Complex queue,” which will “treat everyone equitably.”
SLF sued NARA to turn over all materials immediately. “After over a year of trying to work with NARA, its continued unreasonable delays have forced SLF to file this lawsuit,” said Braden Boucek, legal director at the Southeastern Legal Foundation.
The delays and stonewalling outraged conservatives. “This administration promised transparency to the American people. Is this their idea of transparency?” asked Jody Hice, a former U.S. congressman from Georgia and senior vice president at Family Research Council, on Tuesday’s episode of “Washington Watch.” The emails show that “when he was vice president, he was doing government business and discussing government business with his son, Hunter Biden, and others. After nearly two years, not a single one of those emails has been released.”
“By all outward appearances, we are on the verge of being a banana republic,” said Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) on “Washington Watch.” The Biden family is “making millions and millions of dollars at taxpayers’ expense, and we’ve got federal agencies that won’t release the information.”
“American citizens ought to be able to look at these documents and make a decision about whether the law was violated,” said Weber. “The people of America ought to rise up and say they want the truth.”
Thus far, Democrats have offered only a vague defense of Biden’s character. “I’m extremely confident the American people know fundamentally that Joe Biden is a good and decent man who’s dedicated his life to public service,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). But 63% of Americans say Hunter Biden was “involved in illegal influence peddling,” and a majority of Americans (53%) believe Joe Biden participated in his crime, according to a Harvard/Harris Poll released in May.
On the campaign trail in 2019, candidate Biden promised to erect “an absolute wall” between himself and his family’s business deals. “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses. Period.” He promised to do “the same thing we did in our administration” as vice president.
“Apparently, the ‘absolute wall’ only applied to the specific name ‘Joe Biden,’” wrote libertarian columnist James Bovard in the New York Post.
The House Oversight Committee cited the president’s comments as one of 16 times Biden lied about his family’s business schemes — each one containing video footage of Biden’s statement, which the committee then contrasts with the facts.
“How many other FBI memos exist on potential Biden bribes that we have not heard about?” asked Bovard.
For now, investigators still want to learn the details about these government emails. If federal agencies, which are supposed to be politically neutral, stonewall that effort, Weber thinks they should pay the price.
“I would hope that members of Congress actually use their power to reduce funding on some of these agencies,” said Weber. Then the American people need to “clean house” and “kick out these crazy Democrats who have zero transparency, operate under pseudonyms, claim that they had absolutely nothing to do with their son’s business, and lie with a straight face.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.
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