House Republicans have made it quite clear that, once they regain control of the chamber’s committees, they intend to fully investigate Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, over his dubious foreign business dealings.
The Republican minority on the House Oversight and Reform Committee has attempted to get a head start on that probe, but ranking member Rep. James Comer (R-KY) has now called out the Treasury Department for stonewalling its efforts, the Washington Examiner reported.
Specifically, the Kentucky Republican has accused the Biden administration’s Treasury Department of limiting access by GOP committee members to Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed by banks and financial institutions against Hunter Biden, other members of the Biden family, and various Biden business associates.
Where are the requested SARs reports for Hunter Biden?
Rep. Comer first raised the issue in a May 25 letter to Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen and noted the inexplicable and unprecedented difficulty he and his fellow GOP committee members were having in obtaining SARs that had been filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) with regard to Hunter Biden and others he associated with.
The SARs reports, required under the Banking Secrecy Act, compel banks and financial institutions to inform the government of potentially suspicious activity that could be indicative of various financial crimes. Previously, those reports were available to any lawmaker who requested them, but the Biden administration has since imposed restrictions on access that have substantially hampered the GOP’s efforts to obtain any reports related to Hunter Biden and his associates.
Noting that at least 150 different international business transactions by Hunter and James Biden, the president’s brother, had been flagged with SARs, Comer wrote, “The sheer number of flagged transactions in this case is highly unusual, and may be indicative of serious criminal activity or a national security threat,” and added, ” We are particularly concerned where those transactions may involve business with firms or entities, including those with direct ties to foreign governments, hostile to the United States’ interests.”
Access denied for partisan purposes?
Now, in a July 6 follow-up letter to Sec. Yellen, Rep. Comer pointed out that his prior request for answers and information had been ignored and access to the SARs continued to be blocked by the Treasury Department, despite misleading statements to the contrary that the department had provided to the media.
Comer specifically noted a statement from Treasury to the Wall Street Journal at the time of his first letter, in which the department claimed that it “provides SARs to Congress in a manner that enables robust oversight and that is consistent with how other sensitive law enforcement information is produced,” and that it “has made SARs available for every request we’ve received, regardless of party, and will continue to do so.”
The congressman wrote, “This is not true. During a phone call on June 13, 2022, Treasury officials informed Committee Republican staff that they will not provide SARs to Committee Republicans unless Democrats join the request.”
“Treasury’s actions call for investigation and raise new questions about the degree to which the Biden Administration is using the federal government to provide cover for the Biden family and its associates,” he continued, and added, “The American people deserve to know whether the President’s connections to his son’s business deals occurred at the expense of the United States’ interests and whether they represent a national security threat.”
Requests for access and preservation reiterated
Rep. Comer concluded the follow-up letter by reiterating his requests from the initial letter, which included that Treasury preserves and turn over to the committee all SARs related to Biden family members and Hunter’s associates; all communications and documents related to Biden and associates between FinCEN, Treasury, and the White House; and all communications and documents related to any and all policy and procedure changes with regard to congressional committee access to SARs.
It will be interesting to see if this letter from Comer to Yellen will succeed in gaining access to the requested reports for House Oversight Republicans or if the Biden administration will continue to try and thwart the efforts to probe Hunter Biden’s admittedly questionable foreign business dealings and how they potentially relate to his presidential father.