“He doesn’t have much expertise in the world of business”

Republicans keep salivating over so-called witnesses who might link President Biden with corruption involving his troubled son Hunter. Well, they finally found a whopper.

“He doesn’t have much expertise in the world of business,” Devon Archer, former business partner of Hunter Biden, admitted in white-hot testimony before Congress this week.

“Joe Biden, that is?” a staff lawyer asked.

“Right,” Archer confirmed.

It’s not exactly the graft Republicans were hoping for, but hey, it’s bad enough. Former President Donald Trump, who could be Biden’s opponent in the 2024 campaign, claims to be an ace businessman, with six bankruptcies to prove it. For those who prefer criminality in a candidate, like half the Republican Party, Trump’s cornering that market, too.

But back to Biden’s crimes, which are still theoretical. Archer was involved in business dealings with Hunter Biden involving Chinese and Ukrainian interests, starting around 2014. Hunter Biden got a sweetheart job as a board member at Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, almost certainly because his father was vice president of the United States and his long service as a senator before that established the Biden name as one of the most important in Washington, D.C. Hunter’s earnings from Ukraine and China totaled at least $11 million from 2013 to 2018.

Hunter Biden spoke frequently with his father by phone, and sometimes he put Dad on speakerphone so business associates, including Archer, could verify that the eminent old man was really on the line. Archer repeatedly told Congressional interrogators that every discussion he was aware of involving Joe Biden was basically about nothing.

“There was no business conversation,” Archer said, according to a transcript of the interview released on Thursday. “It was, you know, just general niceties and, you know, conversation in general, you know, about the geography, about the weather, whatever it may be.”

But surely Hunter and Joe must have discussed all the ways Joe, as VP, could manipulate US policy toward Ukraine so Hunter would make bajillions. Right?

“Like I’ve said, across the board, there was no business-deal specifics discussed ever at any of these things, but it was, it was a nice, you know, conversation.”

Check for yourself: Here’s the Devon Archer interview transcript.

And if you really want to nose around in the Biden family business, scroll to p. 117, where there’s some discussion about the 2015 cancer death of Beau Biden, Hunter’s older brother and Joe’s oldest son. “What impact did that have on Hunter Biden?” one attorney asks.

“He was distraught,” Archer said. “Definitely a huge impact. And, obviously, you know, it cascaded into —into a relapse. Lasted a long time.” Archer continued doing business with Hunter Biden despite what we now know was a tawdry, self-destructive, and obviously embarrassing drug and alcohol binge. Joe Biden kept calling his son during this meltdown.

Archer does a serviceable job of explaining why Hunter Biden really appealed to Burisma, even though he had no meaningful experience in the energy business. He called it “the brand.” That involved the Biden name and the perception that Hunter Biden could make things happen in the US government, which could be a huge help for an energy firm trying to raise its international profile, shake off domestic critics, and attract private capital.

So what did Hunter Biden actually accomplish for Burisma? He helped them hire Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, a top-notch D.C. law firm that anybody can find on the internet. Ooooh. He also provided advance notice when his father was heading to Ukraine for an official trip.

But Archer has no knowledge of VP Biden ever intervening on Burisma’s behalf or influencing US policy in any way that benefited Burisma. So what was Hunter Biden really offering?

“An illusion of access to his father,” according to Archer.

President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden arrive at Fort McNair, Sunday, June 25, 2023, in Washington. The Biden's are returning from Camp David. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden arrive at Fort McNair, Sunday, June 25, 2023, in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

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There were at least a couple times when it might have become obvious that Hunter didn’t have quite the pull in Washington that he wanted his foreign partners to think he did. At one point, the co-founder of Burisma needed a visa for travel to the United States. Hunter couldn’t make it happen. Another time, a Chinese financial executive who had dealings with Hunter asked if the veep could write a college recommendation to help his daughter get into an elite US college. Biden did. She didn’t get in.

Devon Archer was never in a position to know everything that went on between Joe and Hunter Biden, so it remains possible there’s a smoking gun somewhere, rather than the toy pistols Republicans keep putting on display. But there have been other detailed inquiries into the Joe-Hunter relationship and whether the senior Biden abused his government power to enrich anybody in his family, including himself. So far, nothing.

In 2020, when Trump was president and Republicans controlled the Senate, a GOP inquiry led by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a vehement Biden critic, found no evidence of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden. Nor was there anything on the matter from the FBI or the Justice Dept. during Trump’s four years as president, and Trump undoubtedly wanted dirt on Biden. Trump’s first impeachment occurred because, lacking any US evidence of corruption, Trump tried to shake down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for something he could use against Biden. Also, bupkis.

The facts paint a consistent narrative about Joe Biden and his damaged son. Hunter Biden clearly cashed in on the family name, and probably committed crimes himself, including tax evasion. Some of this occurred while his life was in a tailspin, due to family tragedy, addiction, and his own bad choices. Joe Biden seems to have tried to stand by his son, while tolerating transgressions that sullied the family name and leaving an opening for enemies to claim the sins of the son are the sins of the father.

But we still haven’t seen any evidence that Joe Biden committed crimes. And there’s been a lot of looking. What we do know is that nobody approaches Joe Biden for business advice. Killer.

Rick Newman is a senior columnist for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @rickjnewman.

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