What Devon Archer Told Congress

Hunter Biden with his father Joe Biden, April 12, 2016, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images/World Food Program USA)

Happy Friday! Public service announcement: All national parks are free to enter today in commemoration of the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. Go enjoy some nature!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories 

  • Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday to four charges related to special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump was released pending a trial and the next hearing in the case is set for later this month.
  • The Justice Department unsealed a federal indictment on Thursday of two U.S. Navy servicemembers accused of taking bribes in exchange for passing sensitive national security information to China through contact with a Chinese spy. The two sailors, both of whom have been placed under arrest, were charged in separate cases. It is unclear whether they were in contact with the same Chinese intelligence officer. The sailors were stationed at two different naval bases in California. 
  • Mohamed Bazoum—the democratically elected president of Niger, imprisoned in his country since the military staged a coup there late last month—pleaded with world leaders to intervene and restore his rule in an op-ed for the Washington Post Thursday, predicting the West African nation will descend into a staging ground for terrorism. “In our hour of need, I call on the U.S. government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order,” he wrote. “Fighting for our shared values, including democratic pluralism and respect for the rule of law, is the only way to make sustainable progress against poverty and terrorism.” The U.S. has not formally called the events in Niger a coup, since doing so would mean withdrawing security aid being used to fight terrorism, but Biden Thursday called for Bazoum’s release in a statement marking the 63rd anniversary of Niger’s independence.   
  • In a 2-1 decision on Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled the Biden administration’s asylum restrictions can remain in place as the legal battle over the policy works its way through the courts. Last week, a district judge in California set the policy’s end date for Monday, ruling that the administration’s policy preference in granting asylum claims for migrants who registered with the CBP One app and applied for asylum in any third country they traveled through to reach the U.S. violated congressional statutes. The appeals court promised an accelerated timeline to review the case. 
  • The Islamic State on Thursday named a new leader, Abu Hafs al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi, replacing the former leader who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims was killed in Syria by Turkish intelligence in April. ISIS had long denied its leader’s death, but finally conceded yesterday he had been killed in clashes with a rival al Qaeda-linked group—without specifying when.  
  • At least 14 people were injured Thursday near Seoul, South Korea, when an attacker rammed a car into pedestrians and then got out of the vehicle to stab several people. Police took the driver into custody, and the local police commissioner said the incident was being considered “in effect, an act of terrorism.”  
  • GOP Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina said on local North Carolina radio Thursday he will not seek reelection and will instead—as Dispatch Politics reported last week—run to be the state’s attorney general. Current North Carolina attorney general Josh Stein is not running for reelection, setting up a tough contest for the open position. Bishop will face former North Carolina legislator Tom Murray in a GOP primary for the statewide office.
  • The Department of Labor reported Thursday that initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—increased by 6,000 week-over-week to a seasonally adjusted 227,000 claims last week, suggesting the labor market is reacting to the Federal Reserve’s rate-hike campaign.

The Biden Brand and the ‘Illusion of Access’ 

On Monday, a former business associate of Hunter Biden’s named Devon Archer sat down with a House Oversight Committee panel behind closed doors for nearly five hours to discuss Hunter’s business dealings and any connections to his father. Democratic Rep. Dan Goldman declared after the session  that Archer’s testimony “completely absolves Joe Biden of any involvement in Hunter Biden’s business world.” GOP Rep. James Comer claimed it made the Joe Biden “bribery scandal” even more credible. When the actual transcript of the interview was released yesterday, however, it quickly became clear that Archer’s testimony—under oath—was more nuanced than either side would’ve liked.

The broad contours of the Hunter Biden story are well-known. The president’s son is a longtime addict whose various failings—from the titillating photos of drug and sex exploits to serious financial misdeeds—have been the subject of controversy for years. He recently settled a child support paternity case with the mother of his 4-year old daughter after asking the judge to lower his monthly payment on claims of financial hardship, despite a high-flying lifestyle documented by the tabloids. Last Wednesday saw the collapse of a plea deal that had the younger Biden pleading guilty to tax misdemeanors and entering a pretrial diversion agreement to address a felony gun charge. Biden’s lawyers had sought to provide their client with immunity from prosecution for crimes beyond the tax and gun charges, with what appeared to be the agreement of the lawyers for the government, but that deal fell apart under scrutiny from the judge presiding in the case, raising questions about the bizarre handling of the case by the Department of Justice. And Hunter Biden’s long and ugly practice of trading aggressively on his family name in his business dealings is the subject of multiple investigations, with whistleblowers claiming that the president’s son is getting special treatment because of his father. The House Republicans leading those investigations are determined to answer the many questions about the Biden family finances with proof of corruption—or at least keep the stories alive while Joe Biden runs for reelection.  

As part of that effort, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee invited Archer to testify this week, hoping Hunter’s former business partner would provide more information on business connections to Joe Biden. The younger Biden originally met Archer through Chris Heinz, a Yale buddy and, yes, an heir to the condiment kingdom. Hunter and Archer founded an investment advisory firm together named Rosemont Seneca Partners—Heinz was also a partner in the firm, but he left after the pair’s dealings with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, began. Archer helped set up the Burisma and Chinese business dealings that have been heavily scrutinized by Republican lawmakers for years. In a separate case, Archer was convicted of defrauding a Native American tribe of more than $60 million in bonds—he was sentenced to a year in prison and lost his appeal to the decision earlier this year. He also testified under an immunity order before the grand jury in the Justice Department investigation into Hunter.

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