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James Biden denies Joe Biden was involved in his business dealings: 3 takeaways from wide-ranging testimony

WASHINGTON – James Biden, President Joe Biden’s brother, sat down with House investigators for a closed-door interview on Wednesday as Republicans continue their monthslong impeachment investigation into the president.

GOP lawmaker allege Joe Biden financially benefited from his family’s foreign business dealings, but they have yet to produce evidence directly implicating him.

James Biden in his prepared opening statement obtained by USA TODAY vehemently denied allegations Joe Biden was directly involved with his business ventures. The president's brother said he "has never had any involvement or any direct or indirect financial interest in those activities. None.”

“I have nothing to hide," James Biden added, explaining that he hoped lawmakers would have "the information to conclude that the negative and destructive assumptions about me and my relationship with my brother Joe are wrong."

Leaving the meeting, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, was skeptical about whether James Biden was telling the truth Wednesday. He told reporters "he's certainly said some things that make you wonder if he's maybe conveniently forgetting something."

James Biden on Wednesday told Republicans their impeachment inquiry has "no basis." Nevertheless, GOP lawmakers have promised to plow ahead with the investigation, and they're set to question the president’s son, Hunter Biden, in a deposition on Feb. 28.

James Biden, brother of US President Joe Biden, arrives for a deposition before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees on President Biden's impeachment inquiry in Washington, DC, February 21, 2024.
James Biden, brother of US President Joe Biden, arrives for a deposition before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees on President Biden's impeachment inquiry in Washington, DC, February 21, 2024.

What did James Biden tell Republicans?

James Biden “made it absolutely clear that there was a wall ... between him and Joe Biden in terms of his business activities,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, told reporters.

“Joe Biden was not an investor, he was not a partner. He just had nothing to do with the business ventures that (James) Biden was engaged in,” Raskin said.

In his prepared opening statement, James Biden also attacked Republicans’ wide-reaching allegations against his business practices and whether the president was involved in them.

At no point, James Biden said in his opening statement, has he “asked my brother to take any official action on behalf of me, my business associates, or anyone else.”

James Biden also denied any possible malicious activities in regards to a pair of checks he used to pay the president in 2017 and 2018, $40,000 and $200,000 respectively. The checks were marked as a “loan repayment,” but GOP investigators have expressed doubt that was their purpose.

Bank records previously reviewed by USA TODAY suggest the checks were indeed repayments for loans the president previously made to his sibling.

“They were short-term loans that I received from Joe when he was a private citizen, and I repaid them within weeks. He had no information at all about the source of the funds I used to repay him. The complete explanation is that Joe lent me money, and I repaid him as soon as I had the funds to do so,” James Biden’s statement read.

James Biden, the brother of President Joe Biden, center, and Attorney Paul Fishman, right, walk back into a private interview with House Republicans following a break at Thomas P. O'Neill House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.
James Biden, the brother of President Joe Biden, center, and Attorney Paul Fishman, right, walk back into a private interview with House Republicans following a break at Thomas P. O'Neill House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

What did Republicans ask James Biden?

Walking into the Wednesday interview, Jordan told reporters Republicans planned to ask James Biden about his various business affairs and "the money, the business, the (Biden) brand." Republicans also examined whether Joe Biden as president conspired "to cover up" his alleged involvement.

James Biden maintained he never sought to leverage his family name in his work, saying in his opening statement: “In every business venture in which I have been involved, I have relied on my own talent, judgment, skill, and personal relationships."

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a member of both the House Oversight Committee and House Judiciary Committee, had doubts about James Biden's statements but did not immediately cite evidence. He instead told reporters to wait for a transcript of the interview.

One business dealing Republicans have been investigating is James Biden's involvement with Americore, a now-bankrupt health care startup. Carol Fox, a bankruptcy trustee that investigators interviewed last year, testified that James Biden promised he could secure funding for the company from the Middle East by leveraging his last name, but the money never came.

The two parties agreed on a $350,000 settlement in an ensuing lawsuit.

Republicans also have questioned James Biden's business affairs with CEFC, a now-bankrupt Chinese energy conglomerate and whether Joe Biden was improperly involved. One of Hunter Biden's former business associates, Tony Bobulinski, testified to the committee earlier this month that Joe Biden "enabled" those business affairs.

James Biden, however, dismissed Bobulinski before lawmakers as someone who was "tremendously arrogant; was often disrespectful and a bad listener; acted like a stubborn bully." James Biden accused him of being aggrieved over being cut out of the family's deals.

Democrats have echoed that sentiment and questioned Bobulinski's credibility as a witness since his testimony earlier this month.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, arrives for a closed-door deposition with the House Oversight Committee at the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Federal Building on February 21, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, arrives for a closed-door deposition with the House Oversight Committee at the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Federal Building on February 21, 2024 in Washington, DC.

James Biden’s interview comes after key source indicted for lying

James Biden’s sitdown with investigators also came days after a former FBI informant was indicted on charges he lied about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma.

The informant, Alexander Smirnov, was repeatedly touted by Republicans as a “credible source” who corroborated their allegations that Joe Biden was improperly involved with parts of Hunter Biden’s work.

In a court memo, prosecutors also said Smirnov admitted he was in contact with Russian intelligence officials and said Russian officials passed on the information about Joe and Hunter Biden. While prosecutors noted Smirnov’s claims were “not trivial,” the memo does not specify whether his claims could be verified.

Republican investigators have tried to downplay Smirnov’s indictment and have said his charges change little to nothing about their impeachment inquiry.

“It is what it is,” Jordan told reporters on Wednesday morning of the indictment. “It doesn’t change the fundamental facts.”

Raskin, early on in the interview, told reporters the room felt like “a subdued affair.”

“It feels to me as if everyone knows the impeachment investigation is over,” Raskin said.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., center, arrives for a private interview with James Biden, the brother of President Joe Biden, at Thomas P. O'Neill House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., center, arrives for a private interview with James Biden, the brother of President Joe Biden, at Thomas P. O'Neill House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: James Biden denies Joe Biden was involved in foreign dealing: Takeaways