Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday declined to label the GOP-led investigation into President Biden a “bribery scandal.”
Republican investigators for months have cited an FBI form that contains an unverified tip alleging that Biden, as vice president, was involved in a bribery scheme to benefit Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of. The White House has denied any wrongdoing, and Republicans have been unable to corroborate the claims.
Republicans released a copy of the FBI form, known as an FD-1023 form, last month.
Asked by Fox News’s Sean Hannity if the allegations constitute a bribery scheme, McCarthy deflected.
“The bribery statute, Mr. Speaker, does not demand that somebody benefit themselves financially. In this case, the vice president, as the 1023 form pointed out, took a specific action and his family, you know, was involved in personal enrichment. That being Hunter. Based on his actions, is that bribery to you?” Hannity asked.
“Well Sean, everything that you just talked about, nobody in America knew until you had a change in Congress,” McCarthy responded, before running through various allegations Republicans have mounted.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gives a press conference in Statuary Hall at the Capitol on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.
Pressed again by Hannity on whether the claims amount to a bribery scandal, McCarthy dodged.
“Do you believe we are looking at a bribery scandal with Joe Biden, who’s now president, actions he took as vice president in exchange for family enrichment?” Hannity asked.
McCarthy responded by running through other points Republicans have cited throughout their investigations, including testimony from Devon Archer, a former business associate of Hunter Biden who spoke to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee last week. Archer said he was “not aware” of any wrongdoing by then-Vice President Biden but did say Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone during some meetings with associates.
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Archer also testified that he was not made aware of bribe payments made to two different Bidens, which are the crux of the allegations in the FD-1023 form.
“I think there’s enough proof out there that this Biden family needs to come forward and show there wasn’t a pay-to-play,” McCarthy told Hannity. “America deserves more and Americans want to know. And the one thing I will tell you is, as this Congress, the People’s Congress, we will follow the facts and provide it to the American public, just like the Constitution tells us to do.”
The White House on Tuesday, for its part, came out against McCarthy's comments on Fox News, saying the Speaker was "lying" in order to appease the far-right lawmakers in his conference.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, was pressed on the bribery allegations last month and said he was not sure if they were accurate.
“I don’t know if the allegations are true or not,” Comer told reporters before Congress broke for August recess.
Asked if he would agree that the bribery claim is just an unverified allegation, Comer said, “I’ll not answer that right now, because we’ve got people coming in that hopefully can answer that question better than I can.”
The conversation about the bribery allegations comes as McCarthy floats a potential impeachment inquiry into President Biden. For months, Republicans have tried to link the president to his son's business dealings.
Last month, the Speaker said that if actions rise to the level of an impeachment inquiry, he would open such a probe.
McCarthy re-upped that position Monday.
“I raised it on this show not long ago, that because the actions of the Biden administration, withholding information, that that would rise to the level where we need impeachment inquiry, to get the strength of the Congress, to get the information that we need to give to the American public and follow through on our Constitutional authority,” McCarthy told Hannity. “That is exactly what we’re doing and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do.”