(…) The account seems to comport with now-President Biden’s repeated denials that he discussed business with his son or had any substantive involvement with his partners.
However, Archer told a different story to U.S. lawmakers during a deposition earlier this year. “Jonathan Li and [Vice] President Biden had coffee,” Archer said, according to a recently released transcript of his interview with the House Oversight Committee. “They had coffee in Beijing,” he recalled, suggesting there may have been talk about their business relationship.
Li would later offer Hunter a 10% stake worth potentially millions in a Chinese investment fund controlled by the state Bank of China. The fund, BHR Partners, is based in Beijing.
Archer’s testimony included other details ignored or distorted in the memoir. He said the vice president called Hunter while he was meeting with Li in Paris, and Hunter put his father on speakerphone so he could join their conversation. And in early January 2017, while Biden was still in the White House, Hunter arranged for his father to write letters of recommendation for Li’s son and daughter to Ivy League colleges.
Before committee lawyers began questioning Archer during the July 31 closed-door hearing, they warned him that providing false testimony could subject him to criminal prosecution for perjury. Hunter, in contrast, was under no such legal peril while writing his manuscript.
The same Oversight panel that quizzed Archer will now lead a formal impeachment inquiry, announced this month by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, to investigate whether Biden used his office to enrich his family. Investigators are weighing subpoenaing Hunter Biden, which makes examining his claims in his memoir highly instructive as to his and his father’s credibility. They’re also tracing millions of dollars wired from China into a maze of accounts that ended up in the hands of Hunter and several other Biden family members, belying claims by the president that Hunter received no money from China.
Hunter also raked in millions from Ukraine while his father was “point man” for Ukraine policy as vice president.
Hunter addresses the controversy in the sixth chapter of “Beautiful Things,” describing the allegation that he traded on his father’s influence in Ukraine to land an unusually lucrative five-year stint on the board of the corrupt Ukraine energy giant Burisma Holdings as “the decade’s biggest political fable.”
He insisted neither he nor his father, who as vice president husbanded Ukraine’s new regime, did anything criminal or corrupt. “There is, in short, no there here,” Biden wrote.
Hunter then explained how he came to serve on the Burisma board, raking in $83,000 a month despite having no experience in the energy sector. Biden claimed that Archer, his international consultancy partner, brought Burisma into their business orbit after first meeting Burisma’s founder in Kyiv.
“During one such trip to Kyiv, he met Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner and president of Burisma,” Biden said. “After returning from Kyiv, Devon told me about his talk with Zlochevsky.”
But Archer, who served on the Burisma board alongside Biden, relayed a different account to Congress, testifying he first met the Russian-tied Ukrainian oligarch in Moscow, not Kyiv.
In fact, Archer said he sat down with Zlochevsky in the Russian capital on the same day that Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. “It was just me meeting [with him],” Archer added. Within days, Burisma asked him to join the board. And Hunter Biden came aboard shortly thereafter.
Archer’s disclosure that their relationship with Burisma was hatched in Moscow is at odds with the political narrative President Biden has carefully crafted, demonizing Russia as Enemy No. 1 of America and NATO. Hunter’s telling of the genesis, with the initial meeting with Zlochevsky taking place in Ukraine’s capital, is far more palatable.
Hunter wrote that he only agreed to accept Zlochevsky’s offer in order to enable Ukraine to strengthen its energy independence from Russia. He said the prospect of helping build a “bulwark” against Russian oil and gas imports assuaged “whatever dissonance I might have felt between idealism and generous compensation.” He said he was more interested in “fighting” for the Ukrainian people against an aggressive neighbor, which aligns his employment with Burisma with his father’s pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia stance.
“Having a Biden on Burisma’s board was a loud and unmistakable fuck-you to Putin,” Hunter maintained.
But according to Archer’s testimony, Burisma hired them in part to help expand its energy operations outside of Ukraine – particularly in the U.S., where the energy industry is heavily regulated by the federal government, and having such politically connected Americans on the board was valuable to the oil and gas conglomerate. Plus, he and Hunter were motivated by the windfall Burisma was paying them: “It was a million dollars per year [apiece] on the board contracts,” Archer confirmed.
Hunter further contends in his memoir that his father didn’t know about his joining the Burisma board until he read about it in the Wall Street Journal on May 13, 2014. But White House emails show the vice president’s staff was coordinating damage control weeks earlier when the news first broke in the foreign press.
And Archer testified that a month earlier, he had met with Vice President Biden in his White House office with Hunter, who had arranged the meeting. Their high-level pow-wow took place on April 16, the day after records show Archer received his first payment from Burisma.
It’s not clear what the trio discussed in Biden’s office, but Hunter had emailed Archer a Burisma strategy memo just three days earlier. Also on April 13, Hunter had emailed Joe Biden’s best friend Ted Kaufman and the vice president’s then-deputy counsel Alex Mackler to discuss Ukrainian politics. On April 21, Biden visited Ukraine to offer energy and economic aid.
But that’s not the biggest whopper Hunter apparently told about Burisma in his book. On page 127, he claimed: “No one at Burisma had even hinted at wanting me to influence the [Obama-Biden] administration.”