Analysis from the Center

Key Takeaway: The findings of the House Oversight Committee’s impeachment probe into President Joe Biden are worth following, but not yet worth drawing definitive conclusions.

For almost a year now, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee has been investigating President Joe Biden and his family, probing for potential instances of corruption.

From the start, committee leader Rep. James Comer (R-KY) has been adamant that these alleged crimes took place.

Shortly before Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted from his position as House Speaker, he elevated the investigation to the level of an impeachment probe.

There are many angles and leads the committee is following, but one claim made by Comer recently deserves a closer look.

On November 1, the committee stated that Joe Biden “received $40,000 in laundered China money.” The committee claimed Biden received $40,000 from a Chinese energy company, but the money was “laundered” before reaching him.

Let’s work through what evidence the committee has — and lacks — to back up this claim.

Here’s the timeline laid out by the committee for how the money was laundered:

X / @GOPoversight

According to the committee, on July 30, 2017, Hunter Biden sent the following message to Raymond Zhao, an associate at CEFC, a Chinese energy company:

“Please have the director call me – not James or Tony or Jim – have him call me tonight. I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. I am very concerned that the Chairman has either changed his mind and broken our deal without telling me or that he is unaware of the promises and assurances that have been made have not been kept. Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand. And now means tonight. And Z if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you Zhang or the Chairman I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. All too often people mistake kindness for weakness – and all too often I am standing over top of them saying I warned you. From this moment until whenever he reaches me.”

An attorney for Hunter Biden disputed the validity of the supposed messages.

According to the committee, On August 8, 2017, a Chinese company wired $5,000,000 to “Hudson West III, a joint venture established by Hunter Biden and CEFC associate Gongwen Dong.” That same day, Hudson West III wired $400,000 to “Owasco, P.C., an entity owned and controlled by Hunter Biden.”

On August 14, 2017, Hunter Biden wired $150,000 to “Lion Hall Group, a company owned by President Biden’s brother James and sister-in-law Sara Biden.”

On August 28, 2017, Sara Biden withdrew $50,000 from Lion Hill Group and deposited it into her and James Biden’s personal account.

On September 3, 2017, Sara Biden wrote a check to Joe Biden for $40,000 with a memo stating the check was for “loan repayment.”

The committee released a photo of the supposed check:

X / @GOPoversight

Not to be confused with the alleged $200,000 check, also for “loan repayment,” that Joe Biden received from James Biden in 2018, which the committee is also investigating.

That is the alleged laundering chain.

This led Comer to state:

“...it’s certainly plausible that this payment where James and Sara used funds from China was indeed a loan repayment to Joe.

“But even if this $40,000 check was a loan repayment from James Biden, it still shows how Joe benefited from his family cashing in on his name – with money from China no less.

“Without his family peddling his name and his son threatening a CEFC associate with consequences that he said Joe Biden knew about, James wouldn’t have had the money to write the $40,000 check to his brother Joe.

“It’s also worth remembering that Biden family efforts to secure millions from this Chinese company began when Joe Biden was still Vice President.

“In taking funds sourced to a CCP-linked company that wanted to advance China’s interests, Joe Biden exposed himself to future blackmail and put America’s interests behind his own desire for money.”

Comer and the committee have outlined a potential money trail. Meanwhile, some remain holes in the argument.

Joe Biden’s knowledge of Hunter Biden’s actions remains unproven beyond reasonable doubt. Assuming Hunter Biden’s message to Raymond Zhao is authentic, it’s not certain that Hunter Biden was telling the truth about his father being with him at the time of the message being sent.

When Hunter Biden’s former business associate Devon Archer testified to the committee behind closed doors in July, he reportedly said that Hunter Biden’s value when working with foreign companies was his attachment to the “Biden brand” and the “illusion of access to [Joe Biden].” While foreign companies may have been bringing Hunter Biden on board in order to gain favor in Washington, D.C., and while Hunter Biden may have personally benefited from his last name, it does not definitely prove that Joe Biden did as well.

Also important to note: Hunter Biden was reportedly a user of crack cocaine at the time of this alleged message to Raymond Zhao.

All this to say, if the message is real, it’s not unreasonable to suspect Hunter Biden could have been lying about his father being next to him.

The claim that the money was “laundered” implies a conspiracy in which the person at the beginning of the chain and the person at the end are knowledgeable of what is occurring. That is not yet proven, so the committee’s claim remains incomplete.

If the evidence presented by the committee is authentic, Hunter Biden certainly appears to have used his family’s name recognition to personally benefit himself.

Additionally, assuming Joe Biden was completely knowledgeable of everything Hunter Biden was doing and was involved, at the time of the supposed message, Joe Biden was a private citizen.

Comer’s claim that Joe Biden “exposed himself to future blackmail and put America’s interests behind his own desire for money” is fair criticism, but is it proof of illegality? Impeachment doesn’t require a law to be broken, but it certainly helps the case.

So far, the committee has made a strong case for why Americans should demand more accountability and transparency from the families of elected leaders.

The findings of the committee’s investigation are certainly worth following, but not yet worth drawing definitive conclusions. 

Isaiah Anthony (Center bias) is the Deputy Blog Editor at AllSides.

This piece was reviewed by Henry A. Brechter, Editor-in-chief (Center bias), Joseph Ratliff, AllSides Content Designer (Lean Left bias) and Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right).