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Transcript of Devon Archer testimony doesn’t back key claims about Joe and Hunter Biden

Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's former business partner, arrives on Capitol Hill July 31, 2023, to give closed-door testimony to the House Oversight Committee. (AP) Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's former business partner, arrives on Capitol Hill July 31, 2023, to give closed-door testimony to the House Oversight Committee. (AP)

Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's former business partner, arrives on Capitol Hill July 31, 2023, to give closed-door testimony to the House Oversight Committee. (AP)

Maria Briceño
By Maria Briceño August 4, 2023
Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone August 4, 2023
Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson August 4, 2023
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman August 4, 2023

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee released a transcript of closed-door testimony from Devon Archer, a former business partner of Hunter Biden, three days after they and Democrats gave different accounts about what Archer said about Joe Biden’s involvement with his son’s business dealings.

Republicans released the transcript, along with documents discussed in the interview, on Aug. 3, hours before former President Donald Trump was set to be arraigned in Washington, D.C., after his indictment on charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

The transcript shows Archer said Hunter Biden used the "brand" of his famous family name, his access to Washington, D.C., and knowledge of how things work there to impress potential business partners. 

But it also shows that Archer said he was not aware of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden, he didn’t witness the Bidens discussing Hunter’s business, and that he’s not aware that any foreign policy was changed to benefit Hunter Biden — which goes against claims that Republicans have long made about the Bidens.

In the second part of an interview with Tucker Carlson posted Aug. 4 on X, formerly Twitter, Archer gave a somewhat conflicting account.

Carlson said the Democratic reaction to Archer’s testimony — that there's no corruption here, calls with his father were normal and that Joe Biden had no role or knowledge of his son's business — seems false.

Archer seemed to agree, at least that Joe Biden had some knowledge of his son’s business.

"I think that's categorically false. He was aware of Hunter's business, he met with Hunter's business partners. You found a letter that illustrates that he knew me," Archer said. "In the same breath, I don't think that Joe Biden's looked at a balance sheet, or you know, a cap table or what have you, or any financial document, probably ever."

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the House Oversight Committee chair, shared a video of the exchange, but the video was edited to leave out the second part of Archer’s statement.

Here’s a closer look at other statements Republicans and Democrats have made about Archer’s testimony, compared with the transcript.

"Devon Archer’s testimony today confirms Joe Biden lied to the American people when he said he had no knowledge about his son’s business dealings and was not involved. Joe Biden was ‘the brand’ that his son sold around the world to enrich the Biden family." — Rep. James Comer, R-Ky, House Oversight Committee chair, statement, July 31, 2023

In a second statement Aug. 3, Comer didn’t accuse Joe Biden of lying, but reiterated that the then vice president "was the ‘brand’ used to send ‘signals’ of power, access, and influence."

The transcript confirmed that Archer testified that Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone about 20 times over a 10-year period while his son was with friends or business associates, either when he called his father or his father called him. Biden also attended two dinners with his son and business associates in attendance, Archer testified.

But Archer said none of the conversations he witnessed had to do with Hunter Biden’s businesses. Archer described the calls as "casual" conversations, sometimes about the weather or general "niceties."

He described the two dinners Joe Biden attended with his son and others — one in 2014 and another in 2015 — in Washington, D.C. The first was a birthday dinner; the second was to supposedly talk about the United Nations World Food Programme. Hunter Biden was chair of World Food Program USA at the time, Archer said. Again, Hunter Biden’s businesses were not a topic of conversation, Archer said.

However, Hunter Biden and his companies benefited from the "brand" of the Biden family name, Archer said. 

Archer testified that Burisma would have gone out of business without the brand. But he stressed at other points in his testimony that he wasn’t referring only to Hunter’s relationship to Joe Biden when referring to the "brand," but also to Hunter Biden’s own contacts and experience in navigating Washington.

Archer rejects bribery claims

"Every day, this bribery scandal becomes more credible. I mean, look at what Devon Archer testified today."

— Comer in a July 31 interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News

"They called D.C. and five days later, Dec. 9, 2015, Joe Biden is in Ukraine and he gives a speech, starting the pressure on the prosecutor in Ukraine."

— Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in the same interview with Hannity

As evidence, Comer cited Joe Biden being on 20 phone calls with his son’s business associates, and that Hunter Biden was under pressure while on the Burisma board to call his father and get Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin fired. Comer’s House Oversight Committee colleague, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also joined Comer and Hannity for the interview. Jordan said that five days after the request, Vice President Biden traveled to Ukraine and began a pressure campaign against Shokin.

The unsubstantiated bribery allegations stem from a 2020 FD-1023 form, which FBI agents use to record unverified reporting from confidential human sources. The form showed an informant said that Mykola Zlochevsky, a Burisma executive who was under investigation for money laundering and tax evasion, paid a $5 million bribe each to Joe and Hunter Biden to remove Shokin and end the investigation. That form was later released Sept. 23, 2020, by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

Archer in his testimony rejected allegations from the informant about the alleged bribes to the Bidens. Archer said he was not aware of any $5 million payments and first heard of it when he read the FBI document. When asked if he would disagree with anyone concluding from the 1023 form that Joe Biden was bribed by Zlochevsky, he said, "Yeah, I would."

In his testimony, Archer described a December 2015 meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, attended by Hunter Biden and Zlochevsky, among others. He said he was told Hunter Biden was asked to call "D.C." because Burisma was under pressure from the Ukrainian government. 

Archer gave conflicting answers about who Hunter Biden called in response to the request. He said he didn’t witness the call, which he said happened on or around Dec. 4, but was told by Vadym Pozharskyi, a Burisma executive, that Hunter Biden called his father. Later in his testimony, he said Hunter Biden had called "D.C." but didn’t know whom specifically he had spoken with and that no one had told him it was Joe Biden.

As for Jordan’s claim that Joe Biden traveled to Ukraine five days after the phone call and began pressuring Ukraine officials to remove Shokin, that visit had been announced publicly Nov. 13, 2015. As PolitiFact reported, Joe Biden did want Shokin removed, citing widespread concerns that Shokin was ineffective in pursuing corruption cases.

Archer testified that he had no reason to believe Shokin’s removal was because of anything other than the U.S. government’s anti-corruption policy in place at the time. Archer also testified he was "spun a narrative"  by a Washington, D.C. team that handled public affairs on Burisma’s behalf that said removing Shokin would be bad for Burisma because Shokin "was under control."

"Whether it's true or not, I cannot speculate," Archer said. 

Context about ‘control’

"This witness said that Burisma believed they had the corrupt prosecutor general, and I quote what the witness said, 'under control,' and they did not want him to be fired because that might mean that Burisma and their president would get investigated."

—Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., in an Aug. 1 interview on MSNBC 

This omits context about what Archer said about Shokin and Burisma. Archer testified that he was told by a D.C.-based public affairs team working on Burisma’s behalf that Shokin was "under control" and firing him would be bad for Burisma — Archer did not say he heard that from Burisma executives. 

"Burisma never informed me of that. I just was — that's what I was told, that it was bad for Burisma. But I don't know. I don't know if it was good or bad," Archer said in response to a question from Goldman.

The ‘illusion’ of access

"Devon Archer described how Hunter Biden sold the ‘illusion’ of access to his father — access he never actually provided."

— Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Aug. 3 press release  

This word "illusion" initially came from Goldman in his questioning. He initially agreed with Goldman that it was fair to say Hunter Biden was selling the illusion of access to his father. 

Goldman then asked if it was "not about selling access to his father. It’s about selling the illusion of access to his father. Is that fair?"

Archer replied, "Almost fair." When pressed about what he meant, Archer said, "Because there — there is — there are touch points and contact points that I can't deny that happened, but nothing of material was discussed. But I can't go on record saying that there was — there was communications." 

Another time, Goldman said Hunter Biden did not provide Burisma executives with access to his father. "The access to his father was an illusion of access to his father. Is that right?"

"Right," Archer replied. "An illusion of access to his father, other than social — you know, socials." He clarified by "social" he was referring to dinners where Joe Biden and Hunter’s partners met.

Bidens didn’t talk business, Archer said

"Devon Archer confirmed today that the ‘Big Guy’ participated in more than 20 of Hunter’s shady business deals."

—Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., X post, July 31, 2023

​​"He told us in his transcribed interview that he heard Hunter Biden speak to Joe Biden more than 20 times about their business deals. Not about anything else, but about the business deals." 

— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., interview with The Daily Caller, July 31, 2023

Archer did not say that Joe Biden participated in his son’s business deals. He said the opposite, the transcript shows.

Archer said that Joe Biden did not discuss his son’s business deals in the 20 times Hunter put his father on speakerphone when he and Archer were meeting with potential partners or friends.

He described the calls as Joe Biden saying, "Where are you?, How's the weather?, How's the fishing?, How's  the — whatever it may be, whatever — but — you know, it was very, you know, casual conversations about — you know, not about cap tables or financials or anything like that."

Archer said that Biden’s conversations on the calls were no different whether he was speaking to his son’s business associates or his friends. 

Archer also testified that Hunter Biden never asked his father to take official actions on behalf of his business partners.

"He did not ask him — to my knowledge, I never saw him say, do anything for any particular business," Archer said. 

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Our Sources

U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, Vice President Biden to travel to Ukraine, Nov. 13, 2015

The Washington Post, Devon Archer said the opposite of what Republicans claimed, Aug. 3, 2023

PolitiFact, Donald Trump ad misleads about Joe Biden, Ukraine and the prosecutor, Oct. 11, 2019

PolitiFact, Trump and some in GOP are promoting a Biden bribery allegation. It is from 2020 and unverified., June 16, 2023

Fox News, Biden knew exactly who his son was getting millions from: House Oversight Chairman James Comer, Aug. 1, 2023

Rep. Lauren Boebert, X post, July 31, 2023

The Daily Caller, Devon Archer Told House Oversight Joe And Hunter Biden Spoke ‘More Than 20 Times’ About Business, Rep Says," July 31, 2023

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Comer Statement on Devon Archer’s Testimony, July 31, 2023

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Comer Releases Devon Archer’s Transcribed Interview Transcript, Aug. 3, 2023

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Interview of Devon Archer, July 31, 2023

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Democrats, Ranking Member Jamie Raskin Releases Memo Undermining Republicans’ False Claims of "Bombshell" Evidence Against President Biden in Devon Archer Interview, Aug. 3, 2023

Rep. Dan Goldman, X post, Aug. 1, 2023

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Transcript of Devon Archer testimony doesn’t back key claims about Joe and Hunter Biden