President Biden on Thursday called Republican assertions that FBI notes point to a bribery scheme benefitting him or his family Biden “malarkey.” It was the first time the President had publicly responded to efforts by Rep. James Comer, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to release an FBI document of unsubstantiated allegations based on second-hand information from a confidential informant in Ukraine.
The question came at the end of a 40-minute press conference Biden held with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, where the two leaders discussed their nations’ commitment to supporting Ukraine’s defense, responsibly advancing the use of artificial intelligence technology, and finding ways for the two countries to better trade with each other.
Asked for his response to the bribery allegation, Biden quipped, “Where’s the money? I’m joking. It’s a bunch of malarkey.”
House Republicans have latched onto the existence of FBI notes, called an FD-1023 form, saying they point to a broader effort by foreign governments to influence U.S. policy when Biden was Vice President. The Justice Department under then-Attorney General Bill Barr investigated the allegation in 2020, found no evidence to back them up, and closed the inquiry, according to the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who was briefed with Comer by the FBI.
The FBI allowed lawmakers from both parties in recent days to read the FD-1023 form in a secure location on Capitol Hill, a concession the FBI made only after Comer scheduled a vote to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt for not complying with a congressional subpoena to hand over the document.
The FBI said that making the notes public would endanger the human source who gave the bureau the information.
In May, Republicans on the oversight committee released a 36-page report that described $10 million in foreign business transactions by companies that Comer and his GOP colleagues allege benefited Biden relatives during and after the years Biden was Vice President. But the committee’s memorandum has no evidence President Biden knew about the transactions or that they were linked to his actions as public servant.
The allegations from Republicans against Biden come as Jack Smith, a special counsel for the Justice Department, is moving ahead on an investigation against former President Donald Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents and obstructing federal officials efforts to retrieve them. The final report by another special counsel, Robert Mueller, documented Trump’s extensive efforts to influence the Department of Justice’s investigations into his presidential campaign’s ties to Russia.
Trump is also under investigation for his role in trying to overturn the 2020 election results and encouraging the violent siege of the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. In Georgia, an investigation is looking at Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss in that state. And Trump made history in April when he was indicted in Manhattan over hush-money payments to an adult film actress during his 2016 presidential campaign, the first former President to be criminally indicted. Trump called the investigations against him “SCAMS & WITCH HUNTS” in a post Wednesday on his social media site Truth Social.
As Biden prepared to leave the room, he was asked how he can restore Americans’ trust in the Department of Justice with Trump attacking it. “Because you’ll notice, I’ve never once, not one single time, suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do relative to bringing a charge or not bring a charge. I’m honest.” Biden tapped the podium twice for emphasis and walked out.
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