Hunter Biden offers to testify. Republicans scurry away in fear

After months of being treated as a punching bag by Republicans in the House and by right-wing media, Hunter Biden has reacted to a Republican subpoena by offering to testify in person before the House Oversight Committee that’s supposedly looking into allegations of misconduct by President Joe Biden and members of his family. It’s a direct challenge to Republican committee Chair James Comer and to the GOP’s ongoing efforts to create an excuse to impeach the president.

Hunter Biden’s testimony could be one of the greatest “put up or shut up” moments of the century.

Except it’s not going to happen. It’s not happening because the offer to testify in public and answer any question that Republicans wanted to ask was met with a refusal from Comer. The last thing the House Oversight chair wants in his committee is the truth.

According to Hunter’s attorney, David Lowell, the president’s son is willing to sit for the committee on “December 13, or any date in December that we can arrange.” And he has just one requirement: That testimony has to be public, so everyone gets to hear what Republicans ask and what Hunter has to say in response. “All you will learn is that your accusations are baseless,” writes Lowell. “However, the American people should see that for themselves.”

That’s exactly what terrifies Comer. As CNN reports, the Republican congressman who has been making outrageous claims about the Biden family for months quickly rejected the idea of public testimony. “Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else,” said Comer. “That won’t stand with House Republicans.”

Instead, Comer insists that Hunter must appear before Republicans in private so that they can frame information released about both questions and answers in the way they best suits their “investigation.” Republican Rep. Ben Cline followed Comer’s refusal by maintaining that Hunter’s offer to testify in public was part of a Democratic scheme to block Comer’s investigation.

Because, as everyone knows, open public testimony is something that a Republican investigation simply cannot tolerate.

Hunter has been the subject of continuous attacks since Rudy Giuliani first strolled into The New York Times in 2019 and handed them an utterly ridiculous story about Hunter, his father, and a corrupt prosecutor in Ukraine. That story was rapidly and thoroughly debunked, but that hasn’t kept Republicans from citing it as fact from that day until the present. Just days before the 2020 election, Giuliani announced that he had obtained “Hunter Biden’s laptop”—a phrase that has now been promoted thousands of times by Donald Trump, Republicans in the House and Senate, right-wing media, and Elon Musk. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene went so far as to brandish revenge porn taken from this nonexistent laptop on the floor of the House.

The combined effort of Republicans, their supporters, and the media to crush Hunter may be the most jaw-dropping example of the lengths to which the right will go in an effort to find some reason, any reason, to defame Joe Biden. In the past few weeks, Comer has been dribbling out already well-established information one crumb at a time, treating each piece as if it’s some kind of revelation and throwing claims of corruption at multiple members of the Biden family.

And that’s exactly what Comer and others intend to do over the coming months. They have no interest in the truth, and no interest in what Hunter Biden has to say. They only want to preserve their ability to pretend to “investigate” by way of smear.

Rep. Jamie Raskin issued a response to Comer’s insistence that his work can only be carried out in darkness:

“Let me get this straight.  After wailing and moaning for ten months about Hunter Biden and alluding to some vast unproven family conspiracy, after sending Hunter Biden a subpoena to appear and testify, Chairman Comer and the Oversight Republicans now reject his offer to appear before the full Committee and the eyes of the world and to answer any questions that they pose?  What an epic humiliation for our colleagues and what a frank confession that they are simply not interested in the facts and have no confidence in their own case or the ability of their own Members to pursue it.  After the miserable failure of their impeachment hearing in September, Chairman Comer has now apparently decided to avoid all Committee hearings where the public can actually see for itself the logical, rhetorical and factual contortions they have tied themselves up in.  The evidence has shown time and again President Biden has committed no wrongdoing, much less an impeachable offense.  Chairman Comer’s insistence that Hunter Biden’s interview should happen behind closed doors proves it once again.  What the Republicans fear most is sunlight and the truth.”

Campaign Action

House Republicans will subpoena Hunter and James Biden as their impeachment inquiry ramps back up

House Republicans will issue subpoenas on Wednesday to members of President Joe Biden's family, taking their most aggressive step yet in an impeachment inquiry bitterly opposed by Democrats that is testing the reach of congressional oversight powers.

The subpoenas were expected to be issued later Wednesday afternoon. The long-awaited move by Rep. James Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to subpoena the president's son Hunter and his brother James comes as Republicans look to gain ground in their nearly yearlong investigation. So far, they have failed to uncover evidence directly implicating the president in any wrongdoing.

But Republicans say the evidence trail they have uncovered paints a troubling picture of “influence peddling” by Biden's family in their business dealings, particularly with clients overseas.

"Now, the House Oversight Committee is going to bring in members of the Biden family and their associates to question them on this record of evidence,” Comer, of Kentucky, said in a statement.

The stakes are exceedingly high, as the inquiry could result in Republicans bringing impeachment charges against Biden, the ultimate penalty for what the U.S. Constitution describes as “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The subpoenas demand that Hunter Biden and James Biden as well as former business associate Rob Walker appear before the Oversight Committee for a deposition. Lawmakers also requested that James Biden's wife, Sara Biden, and Hallie Biden, the wife of the president's deceased son Beau, appear voluntarily for transcribed interviews.

Requests for comment from Hunter Biden, who lives in California, and James Biden, who's from Royal Oak, Maryland, were not immediately returned.

Both the White House and the Biden family's personal lawyers have dismissed the investigation as a political ploy aimed at hurting the Democratic president. They say the probe is a blatant attempt to help former President Donald Trump, the early front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, as he runs again for the White House.

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell said the investigation has been full of “worn-out, false, baseless, or debunked claims.” In a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday morning, Lowell urged the new speaker to rein in the "partisan political games.”

Johnson, now settling into the speakership after replacing Kevin McCarthy as the top Republican in the House, has given his blessing to the inquiry and has hinted that a decision could come soon on whether to pursue articles of impeachment against Biden.

“I think we have a constitutional responsibility to follow this truth where it leads,” Johnson told Fox News Channel recently. He also said in a separate Fox interview that he would support Comer's decision to subpoena the president's son, saying “desperate times call for desperate measures, and that perhaps is overdue."

Since January, Republicans have been investigating the Biden family for what they claim is a pattern of “influence peddling” spanning back to when Biden was Barack Obama's vice president. Comer claims the committee had “uncovered a mountain of evidence” that he said would show how Biden abused his power and repeatedly lied about a “wall” between his political position and his son’s private business dealings.

While questions have arisen about the ethics surrounding the Biden family’s international business, no evidence has emerged to prove that Joe Biden, in his current or previous office, abused his role or accepted bribes.

Campaign Action

Republican impeachment inquiry gets off to a perfect start

On Wednesday afternoon, Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee held a press conference to announce the start of their impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden. If this was intended as a preview of what’s to come, it was perfect.

At that conference, NBC reporter Ryan Nobles pointed out that much of the supposed evidence took place at a time not only before Joe Biden was elected, but at a point where he wasn’t even a candidate. But time … is apparently a very fuzzy concept to Rep. Jason Smith. The resulting exchange was hilarious.

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) melts down as an NBC reporter questions GOP claims of DOJ political interference in favor of Joe Biden before he was president.

— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) September 27, 2023

Nobles: “Can you explain the timing of the Aug. 6 WhatsApp message? Why is that evidence of some wrongdoing?”

Smith: “I’m not an expert on the timeline. I would love to have, um, President Biden and his family to tell us about all the timeline.”

Nobles : “But if he's not the president or the vice president at that time, where’s the wrongdoing? He wasn’t even a candidate for president at that time.”

Smith: “He was a candidate.”

Nobles : “On Aug. 6 of 2017?”

Smith: “So apparently, apparently … what source are you with?”

Nobles: “I’m with NBC.”

Smith: “So apparently, you’ll never believe us.”

Nobles: “I’m not saying I don’t believe you. I’m asking you a very direct question. You presented a piece of evidence that you say came on Aug. 6 2017, that demonstrates that Joe Biden was using political influence to help his son.”

Smith: “What’s that?”

Nobles: “The WhatsApp message you put up. How does that demonstrate that there was some sort of political influence put over him if at that time he wasn’t a political figure, he’s not an elected official?”

Smith: “I’m definitely not going to pinpoint one item.”

Nobles: “You presented it. It was your first thing that you brought.”

Smith: “So, apparently you don’t agree with it.”

Nobles: “It’s not that I don’t agree with it. I’m asking you to explain it.”

Smith: “I’ll take the next question.”

The inquiry gets underway today with three witnesses slated to testify:

  • Bruce Dubinsky, an accountant who has previously appeared on Fox News as a commentator about Hunter Biden.

  • Eileen O’Connor, a former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department’s Tax Division during the George W. Bush administration and a member of Donald Trump’s transition team.

  • Jonathan Turley, an attorney who Republicans also called as a witness to defend Trump during his impeachment hearings.

So, the first three witnesses include no one who has any direct knowledge of anything involving either Hunter Biden or President Joe Biden, no one who has served in public office in the last two decades, and no one with any connection to any of the officials or events that are the supposed focus of the inquiry.

That also sounds perfect. It all gets underway at 10 AM ET. And yes, we will be covering it.

Get out the vote in 2023, and help us defeat Donald Trump in 2024. Check out the Daily Kos GOTV Page to get plugged into all the effective volunteer opportunities available.

Fox News says House GOP says it has proof of Biden corruption

House Republicans remain in a frenzy of insinuations, half-truths, and outright lies about President Joe Biden’s connection to his son Hunter’s business dealings, and Fox News is, as always, there on the spot to promote the claims. This is all part of the Republicans’ push to impeach the president even though they have turned up no evidence that he has engaged in wrongdoing. Impeachment has been the plan all along, and the strategic distraction is doubly urgent now that Donald Trump is facing so many federal criminal charges.

Let’s take a look at how Fox News uses smoke and mirrors to make it sound like the Bidens’ accusers have far more evidence than they do. Here’s the latest bombshell report from the “news” network. (Unless otherwise indicated, the quotes come from various Fox News personalities.)

“A new set of bank records linked to the Bidens ...” Linked? How are they linked? To the Bidens? Which Bidens?

“Those who contributed to Hunter’s ventures were then seemingly rewarded with access to his father.” Seemingly? The Fox News chyron here reads, “GOP says it has proof of $20M sent to Bidens,” but then we get “seemingly.” Hmm.

“All that flies in the face, Dana, of what the president and his staff have been saying on repeat.” No it doesn’t, unless you have more than “linked to” Bidens other than Joe and “seemingly.” So far, more than 45 seconds into the clip, we have absolutely no solid information, just insinuation.

“The question is, what was Hunter Biden doing to earn access to this money.” Asked and answered, guys: He had the last name Biden and the ability to create what his business partner Devon Archer testified to the House was the “illusion” of access, putting his father on speaker phone when he was with business associates but not talking about business. It’s not laudatory or inspirational, but it is what it is, and it is not Joe Biden being involved in corruption in any way.

“Republicans on the House Oversight Committee say the new records detail a pay-to-play scheme, proof of $20 million sent to the Bidens from foreign business sources.” Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have said a lot of things, many of them verifiably false. They are claiming here to have evidence of the pay, but what’s the play that’s being paid for? And again, “the Bidens” is not the president—if they thought they had him here, they’d be saying it.

Campaign Action

“The committee says Russian, Ukrainian, and Kazakh oligarchs funneled money to companies tied to Hunter Biden. A Russian billionaire sent $3.5 million to a shell company associated with Hunter Biden business partner Devon Archer.” Whoa, whoa, whoa, we’ve gone from $20 million to the Bidens to money going to companies “tied to” Hunter Biden in the sense that they are “associated with” Devon Archer? That’s a flimsy connection to Hunter, let alone his father.

“Then-Vice President Biden dined with the billionaire in Washington.” According to Archer’s testimony, Joe Biden attended two dinners, one in 2014 and one in 2015, that included some of Hunter’s business associates. “I believe the first one was, like, a birthday dinner, and then the second was ‑‑ I think we were supposed to talk about the World Food Programme,” Archer said. So over the course of more than a year, Joe Biden went to a birthday dinner for his son and another dinner to talk about the World Food Programme, and did not control the guest list at either dinner. Got it.

“Another example has Ukrainian money going to Archer and Hunter Biden. Later, Burisma put Hunter Biden on the board.” 1.) Does money that went to Archer count in the previously mentioned $20 million to “the Bidens?” 2.) I think it’s well established that Hunter Biden was on the board of energy company Burisma. We all know that because of Trump’s efforts to extort Ukraine into a sham investigation of Joe Biden and because of Trump’s resulting impeachment.

Next we see House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer alleging that, “The process involved a foreign country or foreign national wiring money to a fake company. Then the fake company would then turn around and wire the money to the Biden family members. They did this to hide the source of the revenue because they weren’t supposed to get money from many of these countries.”

“Republicans are trying to draw a line from these payments to the president,” the Fox News guy chimed in. Republicans have been investigating this for the better part of a year and they are still trying to draw a line, any line, to the president.

Now to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy: “This isn’t about Hunter Biden. This is about paying to play for the Biden family. Because the money goes to nine different members, through shell companies, much like the informant said.” So, again, not Joe? It’s not about Hunter Biden, McCarthy says, but he apparently doesn’t feel he can make any direct allegations about Joe Biden.

Back to the Fox News talking head: “The committee says a Kazakh oligarch transferred $142,000 to Hunter Biden for a sports car. Democrats contend there’s no wrongdoing by the president.” Look, I think we can agree that Hunter Biden’s business dealings have sucked. But once again Fox News used a denial of wrongdoing by the president to substitute for any direct allegation that the president engaged in wrongdoing. “The son did this not-great thing. The father denied wrongdoing on his own part.” How are those things linked, except by a desperate desire to mention the father while lacking any concrete allegation to make against him?

“Some Republicans talk impeachment. The GOP says this is just not pay to play but pay to dine, and drive.” Again, what’s the “play” part here? Right now, Republicans have a lot of evidence that Hunter Biden got paid—although even there, they seem to be trying to pin money on Hunter that really went to Devon Archer. They don’t have any evidence that anyone got anything in exchange for their money. They got to hear Joe Biden’s voice on a speaker phone not talking about business, or see him at his son’s birthday dinner. Republicans have claimed that Hunter got Joe to push for the ouster of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin because he was investigating Burisma—but the reality is that Shokin was not actively investigating Burisma at the time he was forced out, and Joe Biden was one of a chorus of world leaders involved in a concerted effort to get rid of a corrupt prosecutor. So the closest thing to a concrete claim of Joe Biden being on the “play” end of a “pay to play” scheme with his son turns out to be false on multiple grounds.

If Republicans had anything on Joe Biden, we’d know about it. They don’t. And, as Marcy Wheeler points out, all of this screaming about $20 million to Hunter and his business associates is happening when we know that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner parlayed his time as a White House adviser into $2 billion from Saudi Arabia. Jared had an official White House role. Hunter never has. Jared delivered for Saudi Arabia from his White House perch. Hunter has never been in a position to do that for his benefactors and there’s no evidence his father did it for him. Jared got $2 billion. Hunter got some unknown slice of $20 million.

Republicans were desperate to impeach President Biden before they ever took control of the House, but their desperation has increased as Trump’s legal jeopardy has become more apparent. They’re looking to impeach Biden in part so they can claim that Trump’s prosecution on dozens of federal criminal charges is some kind of flimsy distraction. In reality, of course, they are the ones trying to cook up a distraction.

House GOP conducts discredited Biden-Burisma probe that Zelenskyy wouldn’t do as ‘favor’ for Trump

Remember that “perfect” phone call in July 2019 that led to President Donald Trump’s first impeachment? That’s the call in which Trump asked Ukraine’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to do “a favor” for him—namely to speak with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani and announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, related to the Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma.

The call came just a week after the White House had ordered the State Department and Pentagon to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine that had already been authorized. Despite the pressure, Zelenskyy didn’t announce any such investigation, which might have derailed Biden’s presidential campaign.

But now Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is doing the very favor for Trump that Zelenskyy wouldn’t do. And it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the embattled former president, who is facing a federal indictment for mishandling classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort. 

RELATED STORY: Trump plays victim and savior

Comer had threatened to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress for failure to turn over an FBI document created in June 2020 that contained unsubstantiated allegations from a confidential source in Ukraine about Joe and Hunter Biden. Comer said a “whistleblower” had informed lawmakers about the FBI document.

The Washington Post wrote: “It is not hard to figure out why this is unfolding the way it is unfolding. There’s an enormous appetite on the right at the moment for evidence that the FBI and Justice Department are deploying a double standard or that Biden deserves to face criminal charges just as much as former president Donald Trump.”

The allegations that Comer wants to investigate relate to the Bidens and Burisma. And this latest political stunt by Comer could backfire like others.

It’s possible that the committee is simply regurgitating Russian disinformation. The U.S. intelligence community, in an unclassified report released in March 2021 said that “Ukraine-linked individuals with ties to Russian intelligence engaged in activities targeting the 2020 U.S. presidential election,” including “alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family, and other U.S. officials and Ukraine.”

“a bunch of malarkey”

Wray had cited the need to protect confidential sources in refusing to turn over the document. But the FBI director eventually relented and allowed all the members of the Oversight Committee to view the redacted document, known as an FD-1023 form, usually a report about information relating to alleged crimes provided to the FBI by an informant.   

Wray insisted that the committee members view the document in a secure room known as a SCIF, for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, on Capitol Hill. The viewing occurred on Thursday, just hours before Trump broke the news about his indictment.

It’s unknown why the FBI insisted that committee members view the document in a SCIF. But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene wasted no time in rushing out of the room to take notes and reveal the contents of the document to reporters.

RELATED STORY: You have to see Marjorie Taylor Greene's plan to 'take down the Deep State'

Greene and fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida both said Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky allegedly told an FBI source that he had paid $5 million apiece to Hunter Biden and then-Vice President Biden in an attempt to avoid a corruption investigation, the New York Post reported.

“It was all a bribe to get (former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor) Shokin fired,” Greene said in a video that she posted on Twitter. She concluded by saying: “We are going to continue following this investigation; we are going to continue to look into every single thing that we can uncover.”

President Biden dismissed the bribery allegations as a “bunch of malarkey.”

The claim that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin because he was investigating Burisma has been totally debunked. The evidence shows Biden was carrying out U.S. policy when he went to Kyiv and warned then-president Petro Poroshenko that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees until Shokin was removed as prosecutor general. The International Monetary Fund also threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine because Shokin wasn’t pursuing corruption cases.

Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, an independent agency, has said Burisma was not even under investigation when Biden was pushing for Shokin’s removal. But the facts haven’t stopped Republicans from claiming that the FBI form proves that the Bidens took millions in bribes. 

The day after Trump’s indictment, the Murdoch-owned New York Post had a front-page cover with photos of both Biden and Trump with the headline “Hail to the Thiefs” and subheadlines “Trump indicted for taking classified documents” and “Ukraine bizman: ‘I bribed Biden for $10M.”

Trump complained that his federal indictment came on the same day that House Republicans gained access to the FBI document, so the bribery allegations got less attention in the news media.

"It's no coincidence they indicted me the very same day it was revealed that the FBI had explosive evidence that Joe Biden took a $5 billion illegal bribe from Ukraine," Trump said Saturday from the North Carolina Republican Party Convention.

questioning credibility

But as independent journalist Ed Krassenstein pointed out in a tweet, there are many reasons to question the credibility of the information provided to the FBI in the FD-1023 form that has so excited the MAGAverse.

Breaking: The Bribery allegations that Comer, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Republicans have been touting are concerning Burisma. While Republicans are making the claim that the allegations “100%” prove that Biden committed bribery, let’s take a step back and evaluate where the…

— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) June 8, 2023

Moreover, The Washington Post reported that the FBI and Justice Department under then-Attorney General William Barr had reviewed the allegations from the confidential informant and “determined there were no grounds for further investigative steps.”

The Post wrote:

The allegation contained in the document was reviewed by the FBI at the time and was found to not be supported by facts, and the investigation was subsequently dropped with the Trump Justice Department’s sign-off, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

Barr said the information in the June 2020 FBI form was passed along to U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, who began an investigation into Hunter Biden’s overseas business ties and consulting work in 2018. That would mean Weiss, a holdover from the Trump administration, has been in possession of the information for three years, but has not acted on it.

The Washington Post reported that Weiss is nearing a decision on whether to charge Hunter Biden for relatively minor tax- and gun-related violations. The newspaper reported last year that federal agents had concluded that they had enough evidence to charge Biden with failing to report all of his income on tax filings and lying on a form for a gun purchase by denying that he had substance abuse problems.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, wrote in a statement that “much of the information provided by the source (in the June 2020 form) was information Mr. Giuliani had already provided the FBI.” Raskin added:

“We now know what I had long suspected: that Chairman Comer’s subpoena is about recycling stale and debunked Burisma conspiracy theories long peddled by Rudy Giuliani and a Russian agent, sanctioned by former President Trump’s own Treasury Department, as part of the effort to smear President Biden and help Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign.”

That Russian agent Raskin is apparently referring to is Andriy Derkach, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament who represented various pro-Russian parties. Among them was the Party of Regions headed by ousted pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, which paid millions of dollars to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to work as a consultant.

Here’s how The Washington Post described Derkach’s background:

Derkach, a former member of Ukraine’s Russia-leaning Party of Regions, was educated at the Higher School of the KGB in Moscow before entering business and politics in independent Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse. His father was a longtime KGB officer who later ran independent Ukraine’s intelligence service in the late 1990s and early 2000s before losing his position amid a scandal over Ukrainian authorities’ involvement in the kidnapping and murder of a prominent journalist.

Derkach was mentioned by name by the National Intelligence Council, consisting of the CIA, NSA, and five other U.S. intelligence agencies, in its March 2021 assessment of “Foreign Threats to the 2020 US Federal Elections.” The report read:

“We assess that President Putin and other senior Russian officials were aware of and probably directed Russia’s influence operations against the 2020 US Presidential election. For example, we assess that Putin had purview over the activities of Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian legislator who played a prominent role in Russia’s election influence activities. Derkach has ties to Russian officials as well as Russia’s intelligence services.”

It added:

A network of Ukraine-linked individuals—including Russian influence agent Konstantin Kilimnik—who were also connected to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) took steps throughout the election cycle to damage US ties to Ukraine, denigrate President Biden and his candidacy, and benefit former President Trump’s prospects for reelection.  


Derkach, Kilimnik, and their associates sought to use prominent US persons and media conduits to launder their narratives to US officials and audiences. These Russian proxies met with and provided materials to Trump administration-linked US persons to advocate for formal investigations; hired a US firm to petition US officials; and attempted to make contact with several senior US officials. They also made contact with established US media figures and helped produce a documentary that aired on a US television network in late January 2020.  

That U.S. television network was One America News Network. Media Matters for America said the right-wing cable station has a “notable history of acting as a mouthpiece for Russian propaganda,” including spoon-feeding its viewers Kremlin-backed propaganda about the war in Ukraine.

giuliani and derkach

In early December 2019, as the House was moving to impeach Trump, Giuliani traveled to Kyiv with an OAN crew to work on the documentary aired in January 2020. That’s when he met Derkach for the first time, TIME magazine reported. Derkach’s press office released this photo of his meeting with Giuliani, which was posted on his Facebook page that was later banned.

"In this handout photo provided by Adriii Derkach's press office, Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for U.S President Donald Trump, left, meets in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Dec. 5, 2019 with Derkach, who was later named an "active Russian agent" by the U.S. government."

— Markus T (@dforthandbview) October 16, 2020

Derkach had caught Giuliani’s attention when he held a November 2019 press conference in Kyiv to push his conspiracy theory of “DemoCorruption,” which holds “that Biden sits atop a vast system of graft that permeates the Democratic Party and colludes with George Soros and other Western billionaires,” TIME said.

Derkach had also been pushing the Kremlin-backed theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign on behalf of Clinton. When Time reporter Simon Shuster visited Derkach in his Kyiv office in 2021, he said Derkach handed him a folder labeled “Reports About Record-Setting Bribe,” which included press clippings, printouts from Twitter, and a letter that Derkach sent to U.S. Senate members accusing Biden and his family of corruption.

“Giuliani is a very capable lawyer. I appreciated his meticulousness,” Derkach told Shuster. “When we spoke, it was very useful for me. He records everything. He writes everything down in his notebook. He never relaxes.”

(That’s the same capable, meticulous lawyer who, in July 2020, was duped by Borat—a character played by actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen—in a compromising scene filmed in a New York hotel room.)

After the OAN documentary aired, Giuliani invited Derkach to New York for further talks in February 2020. Derkach appeared on Giuliani’s podcast.

In the months leading up to the November presidential election, Derkach continued his efforts to spread disinformation about Biden to Giuliani as well as Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa

the search for something incriminating

Derkach also released a series of audio tapes of 2016 conversations between Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in which the U.S. vice president linked financial assistance to firing prosecutor Shokin. Derkach claimed he got the tapes from “investigative journalists.” 

There was nothing really incriminating or embarrassing in the heavily edited tapes, TIME reported. But during the first presidential debate in September 2020, Trump repeatedly brought up the tapes, accusing Biden of threatening Ukraine with withholding a billion dollars if Shokin wasn’t removed.

In September 2020, Derkach held a news conference in Kyiv in which he claimed that Burisma’s owner Zlochevsky had laundered money through off-shore banks to pay millions of dollars to a company co-owned by Hunter Biden, Ukraine’s Unian news agency reported.

Hunter Biden did serve on Burisma’s board of directors from 2014 to 2019, and was paid about $600,000 a year, according to the New York Times. His business partner Devon Archer also served on Burisma’s board. Burisma paid them several million dollars for consulting services through their investment firm Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC, Reuters reported. 

In September 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Derkach “for his efforts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.”

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press release: ”Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world.”

Last December, the Department of Justice indicted Derkach for a scheme to violate the sanctions by allegedly engaging in bank fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering. Prosecutors said Derkach allegedly concealed his involvement in the purchase and maintenance of two condominiums in Beverly Hills, California. “While participating in a scripted Russian disinformation campaign seeking to undermine U.S. institutions, Derkach simultaneously conspired to fraudulently benefit from a Western lifestyle for himself and his family in the United States,” said Michael J. Driscoll, head of the FBI’s New York office.

But Derkach stands accused of even worse offenses in Ukraine amounting to treason. In January, Zelenskyy announced that Derkach and three other pro-Russian lawmakers had been stripped of their Ukrainian citizenship for choosing “to serve not the people of Ukraine, but the murderers who came to Ukraine.”

In March, the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, a British think tank, issued a detailed report on Russia’s “unconventional operations” during the war in Ukraine in which Derkach figured prominently.

Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) made public information in June 2022 that Derkach had been under the control of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, since 2016, and had been receiving installments of U.S. $3 million to $4 million a month, according to the RUSI report.

“Derkach is alleged to have been tasked with establishing a network of private security firms which would assist in maintaining control in a number of towns by pathfinding and assisting Russian forces upon their arrival,” the report said.

More ominously, the report said Ukraine's intelligence agencies believe that "the main direction of Derkach's pro-Russian activities" in the years before 2022 was to influence Ukraine's nuclear energy industry "in the interests of Russia." Russia had plans to seize Ukraine’s nuclear power plants as part of the invasion, and to that end, “the Russian special services recruited employees of nuclear facilities, including from units responsible for the physical security of the facilities." 

Ukraine has issued a warrant for the arrest of Rudy’s one-time pal. 

Maybe Republicans on the House Oversight Committee should think twice before doing Trump a favor by accepting at face value unsubstantiated bribery allegations regarding Joe Biden and his family, especially if they might be recycling and spreading Russian disinformation. But they won’t.

RELATED STORY: How did Fox News cover Trump's indictment?