President Joe Biden, responding to a shouted question near the end of a brief press appearance yesterday, described findings by the House Oversight Committee as "malarkey." Just before uttering that description, he smiled at the reporter's question and asked jokingly: "Where's the money?"
The answer to Biden's question may be shell companies or with friends or family members – or perhaps the money has been deftly laundered to an untraceable point. All are possible, according to news the committee revealed in early May when it outlined what it described as a massive influence peddling scheme dating back to Biden's time as Barack Obama's vice president.
Republicans doubled down on those allegations after reviewing FD-1023, a document made available by the FBI only after the threat of contempt charges against FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Did the 'Big Guy' get big money?
According to the form FD-1023* – its confidential source being a paid FBI informant of many years – Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, his son, each received $5 million payments in return for using their influence to have a Ukrainian prosecutor fired. Fox News reported that the confidential source said a high-level executive with Burisma – a Ukrainian oil company for which Hunter Biden was a board member – told him he "paid" the Bidens in such a manner "through so many different bank accounts" that investigators would not be able to "unravel this for at least 10 years."
The document then refers to "the Big Guy," which has been said to be a reference to Joe Biden.
Prosecutor Viktor Shokin was investigating Burisma – and the investigation was making it difficult for Burisma to buy a U.S. oil and gas company, something Hunter Biden had advised, according to Fox News. Ultimately Shokin was fired.
In 2018 Biden spoke of the firing in public comments aired on C-SPAN, implicating then-Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko and another official in the process:
"… I remember going over convincing our team, or others to convince, that we should be providing for loan guarantees, and I went over, I guess the 12th or 13th time to Kiev, and I was supposed to announce there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor, and they didn't …. They were walking out of the press conference, and I said, 'Nah … we're not going to give you the billion dollars.' They said, 'You have no authority, you're not the president. The president said …' I said, 'Call him. I'm telling you you're not getting the billion dollars.' I said, 'You're not getting the billion, and I'm going to be leaving here in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money.' Well, son of a b**** – he got fired, and they put in place someone who was solid at the time."
GOP: FBI in 'duck and cover' mode
Nine members of the Biden family were named in the House Oversight Committee's original report. Committee chair James Comer (right) addressed the media on May 10. The entire committee was given the opportunity on Thursday to review the FD-1023. Afterwards, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Florida), a member of that committee, said it's clear the FBI is covering for the Bidens.
"There's no doubt in my mind Joe Biden is guilty of bribery 100%," she told a small gathering of media. "If that's not grounds for criminal activity, I don't know what is – but the fact is that they should not want to be hiding this from the American people. If this was any other person in the country, I don't care what political party you are, you'd be looking at a serious criminal investigation. The fact that they're still trying to hide this and cover for this administration, this president, it just blows my mind."
Another member of the committee, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), said the FD-1023 revealed that the Ukrainian prosecutor was trying to do the right thing.
"They hired Hunter on the board to make the problems go away," she said to reporters. "That's what they specifically said. Hunter advised that they could raise more money if they bought a U.S. company."
No statements were made Thursday by the committee's Democratic members.
However, on Wednesday Iam Sams, the White House spokesman for oversight and investigations, released a memo urging people not to fall for "stunts" by Comer and said the committee has "spent six months wasting taxpayer resources to stage politically motivated stunts disguised as investigations," NBC reported.
* The FD-1023 form is used by the FBI to record unverified information from human intelligence sources. The information presented on the document alone does not mean it has been compared and evaluated with other FBI information.