How bipartisan talks could put Trump and Biden family finances under microscope
Members of the House Oversight Committee are looking for ways to collaborate across the aisle in legislation that is inspired by the many controversies that have followed Trump and Biden families over the past few years.
The chairman, James Comer (R.-OK), and the ranking member of the committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin, (D.MD), have been in discussions over two bills. One would improve financial accountability for family members of presidents, and one would strengthen the retrieval process of classified documents. These bills could help to address legal loopholes which have put both the current president and the former president in serious political trouble.
This is a way to expose the most powerful figures from both parties. The Congressional Democrats want more information on the business dealings of ex-President Donald Trump’s children, especially Jared Kushner (Ivanka Trump) and Ivanka Trump.
For congressional Republicans, Hunter Biden’s foreign business ties and, in a lesser degree, Jim Biden’s brother have been a major focus.
Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump have been embroiled in separate battles with the National Archives and Records Administration regarding classified documents that they took home after leaving office.
According to a source familiar with the talks, Comer and Raskin have reached an agreement that will allow bipartisanship in a committee that is often criticized for being a politically-oriented body.
Raskin stated that there are “seeds of real legislative promise”, Axios reported.
Comer stated that the possibility of twin ethics bills is the “two largest areas” in which members of his committee can come together in a polarized environment.
Two full committee hearings and six subcommittee hearings that the oversight panel held this year under the new Republican leadership have focused on topics that GOP lawmakers are more concerned about than their Democratic counterparts.
House Republicans continue to be very interested in Hunter Biden’s financial gains, but they have not received as much scrutiny from the public.
Because the Biden administration witness was unable to attend the Friday hearing on the family’s business ties with the Treasury Department, the committee postponed the hearing.
Republicans, however, have stated that they would like to investigate whether Hunter Biden’s deals with foreign companies provided an opportunity for malign actors to gain influence over his father, particularly when he was vice-president.
One of the most controversial contracts was Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company on which Hunter Biden was a member. This was during the Obama administration when his father played an important role in the direction of U.S.-Ukraine relations.
Senate Republicans probed the relationship prior to the 2020 election. They highlighted the meeting Joe Biden had at the White House with his son’s business partner. This was during allegations of massive corruption in Burisma.
“Furthermore Hunter Biden’s presence on the Burisma Board was very awkward for all U.S. official pushing an anticorruption agenda to Ukraine,” a top diplomat at U.S. Embassy, Kyiv stated in an email that Senate Republicans published in 2020.
The interest of Hunter Biden’s work on China has also been expressed by the Congressional Republicans.
Comer stated that Hunter Biden’s involvement with Chinese Communist Party-linked officers posed a national security threat.
Hunter Biden, for example, appeared to have earned nearly $5 million from a Chinese company in 14 months beginning in 2017. This was despite Hunter Biden never having realized any of the projects he discussed with the company.
However, it is difficult to understand Hunter Biden’s complex web of foreign consulting contracts. This is due in large part to the fact that he was not required by law to disclose his financial affairs as a child of a former vice president.
Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump had to reveal some information about their income over several years, as they both worked as senior aides to the Trump administration.
The requirements wouldn’t have been applicable if they had remained informal advisors to Donald Trump. Congress Democrats have asked for information on whether Kushner’s family has benefited from policy decisions that he helped steer while working as his father-in law.
For example, Democrats have asked whether Kushner’s Middle East policy advice was motivated by a desire for his father, a real-estate developer, to avoid financial ruin.
Leaders of the Oversight Committee are still discussing the specific nature of proposed reforms to financial transparency rules. One change that could be considered is to ask for more information from relatives of presidents who work in the influence sector.
Also, the laws governing classified information are under discussion.
Comer stated that his committee would examine the requirements for top federal officials who are in possession of classified documents.
Current law gives presidents and their staff broad discretion to bring documents with them when they leave the White House. They can also return official documents to the National Archives under what is basically an honor system.
Reforms could give more structure to the process and ensure that any boxes left government property do not contain classified records.