Former Biden family business associate recycles unproven allegations to House panels

A former Biden family business associate levied critical but unproven allegations against President Joe Biden in a closed-door House interview Tuesday, resurrecting claims he has lobbed since 2020.

Over the past several years, Tony Bobulinski has seemingly shared his story with anyone who would listen, including the Trump campaign. But his loftiest claims — that Joe Biden was deeply involved in his son’s overseas business deals — are still uncorroborated and have been undercut by other key witnesses.

“Joe Biden was more than a participant in and beneficiary of his family’s business; he was an enabler, despite being buffered by a complex scheme to maintain plausible deniability,” Bobulinski told House Oversight Committee investigators on Tuesday, according to a copy of his opening statement provided to CNN.

He further said he believed the multi-million-dollar business deals secured by Joe Biden’s son and brother only materialized “because Joe Biden was in high office.” He said, “the Biden family business was Joe Biden, period,” and specifically mentioned Joe Biden’s alleged role in a lucrative proposed deal with a Chinese energy conglomerate.

CNN has not independently verified the underlying evidence Bobulinski says supports his claims. Bobulinski went public in the final weeks of the 2020 race, only after unsuccessfully peddling his material to reporters, including at the conservative-leaning Wall Street Journal. When the newspaper covered Bobulinski’s public remarks, its story made clear that the China deal never closed, and that corporate records “show no role for Joe Biden.”

In his opening statement Tuesday, Bobulinski said he “personally met” with Joe Biden in Los Angeles in May 2017 “multiple times to discuss the broad contours of our business dealings.”

House Oversight Chairman James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, praised Bobulinski’s testimony as well as criticized Democrats on the committee for how they participated in the interview.

“We will soon release the transcript to provide the American people with transparency about Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s shady schemes and Democrats’ efforts to smear Mr. Bobulinski for blowing the whistle,” Comer said in a statement.

While the interview was ongoing, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, slammed Bobulinski’s credibility, saying he was trying to spin two “encounters” with Joe Biden into substantive business meetings.

“He had two encounters with President Biden in back-to-back days in May of 2017 that seemed extremely casual,” Raskin said. “They could not be described as meetings. And by his own account, they did not involve discussion of Joe Biden and business. So, this is then a witness who I think can be charitably described as out of control.”

“He offers absolutely no testimony that indicates any criminal activity by President Biden. He offers no suggestion or evidence that President Biden was involved in Hunter Biden’s businesses,” Raskin added.

Even after first going public in 2020, none of the federal stakeholders including the Justice Department, FBI or IRS have contacted him for his testimony, he said Tuesday. He approached the FBI in October 2020, and sat for an interview, but they never followed up, he said, and neither has the special counsel who is currently prosecuting Hunter Biden.

Another business associate involved with Bobulinski and the president’s son recently poured cold water on Bobulinski’s claims in a separate interview with committee investigators.

The witness, Rob Walker, told House Republicans in January he did not believe Bobulinski was a credible actor and would never consider working with him again. Walker framed Bobulinski’s allegations as “dumbfounded” and “nonsensical.” He speculated that Bobulinski’s motivations were “political.”

“I think he had come to realize that Hunter had moved on without him and he was probably a little pissed also,” Walker added, “So that probably added a little fuel to Tony’s fire.”

Walker recalled Bobulinski called him in October 2020 to discuss the possibility of Hunter Biden’s laptop and did not disclose at the time the conversation was being recorded or that it would be shared with Fox News. In the recording, Walker was quoted saying, “You’re just going to bury all of us, man.”

In his January interview with lawmakers, Walker elaborated that he was not worried about criminal liability, but rather was concerned that Bobulinski’s antics would make everyone involved look bad.

“I thought it was ridiculous that he was going to be – he was going to say something and that made no sense and was stupid and was just going to embarrass everybody,” Walker said.

Bobulinski’s claims also stand in stark contrast to a growing list of other Biden family business associates who have stated that Joe Biden, as a private citizen and as vice president, was never involved in his any of his family’s foreign business dealings. Raskin had raised serious questions about Bobulinski’s credibility ahead of Tuesday’s interview.

Republicans quickly pounced on Bobulinski’s claims as they seek to implicate the president in his family’s foreign business dealings as part of their impeachment inquiry, and many have praised him going into Tuesday’s interview.

But Democrats called out Republicans for using Bobulinski’s allegations to paint the president as central to an elaborate criminal operation, while also questioning his ability to serve in light of special counsel Robert Hur’s final report, which painted a picture of a forgetful commander in chief.

“Pick a side,” said Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas. “Either he is a criminal mastermind or he is old and feeble. Or it’s neither one of them.”

Perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence ever offered by Bobulinski is an email from May 2017 that he exchanged with Hunter Biden and some of their fellow business partners.

In the message, they discuss an equity arrangement for a forthcoming deal involving Chinese energy interests. One of the emails suggests there might be “10 held by H for the big guy,” referring to a 10% equity stake held by Hunter Biden for his father.

House Republicans have seized on this email, arguing that it proves their thesis that Joe Biden was in business with his son, and that he made millions from China.

But Hunter Biden’s lawyers have countered that the proposed equity breakdown from the email was “never included in any agreement” and that the breakdown was actually proposed by Bobulinski, and never even garnered any response from Hunter Biden.

He was teed up for a highly anticipated interview with the GOP-run Senate Judiciary Committee, weeks before the 2020 election. But that was scrapped when he, instead, met with FBI investigators.

Despite providing information to the FBI, federal prosecutors haven’t cited his materials in the sweeping tax indictment filed against Hunter Biden.

The Justice Department has accused Hunter Biden of tax evasion and other financial crimes over many years. (He pleaded not guilty.) But prosecutors haven’t backed up the Republicans’ claims about the Biden family’s supposed influence-peddling schemes.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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