Hunter Biden would dial in his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, on speakerphone into meetings with his overseas business partners, according to testimony expected before Congress this week from Devon Archer, the first son’s former best friend.
Archer, 48, who is facing jail for his role in a $60 million bond fraud, is scheduled to testify to the House Oversight Committee about meetings he witnessed that were attended by Joe Biden either in person or via speakerphone when Hunter would call his father and introduce him to foreign business partners or prospective investors.
“We are looking forward very much to hearing from Devon Archer about all the times he has witnessed Joe Biden meeting with Hunter Biden’s overseas business partners when he was vice president, including on speakerphone,” says Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the committee chairman.
One such meeting was in Dubai late in the evening of Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, after a board meeting of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which was paying Hunter $83,000 a month as a director.
Archer, who also was a director, is expected to testify that, after dinner with the Burisma board at the Burj Al Arab Hotel, he and Hunter traveled six miles north to the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach to have a drink with one of Hunter’s friends.
While they were sitting outside at the bar, Vadym Pozharskyi, a senior Burisma executive, phoned to ask where they were because Burisma’s owner Mykola Zlochevsky needed to speak to Hunter urgently.
‘Can you ring your dad?’
Soon afterward, the two Ukrainians joined Hunter and Archer at the Four Seasons bar and Pozharskyi asked Hunter: “Can you ring your dad?” At the time it was early afternoon, Friday, in Washington, DC.
Hunter then called his father, put him on speaker, placed the phone on the table, and introduced the Ukrainians to Joe Biden by name as “Nikolai and Vadym.”
He also said words to the effect that the Burisma bigwigs “need our support.”
VP Biden greeted the Ukrainians but spoke only in vague pleasantries during the short call, and in other such interactions with Hunter’s overseas business partners, Archer is expected to testify.
Congressional investigators are expected to probe the reasons for Zlochevsky requesting the urgent phone call with Joe Biden.
They will note the context, that three days after the speakerphone call, the then-vice president, who was the Obama administration’s point man for Ukraine, was due to fly to Kyiv to address the Ukrainian parliament, known as the “Rada,” on Dec. 9, 2015, about the “poison of cronyism, corruption, and kleptocracy.”
Ten weeks before the call, on Sept. 24, 2015, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt had given a speech about corruption in Odessa, in which he targeted Zlochevsky by name.
By then, Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin was investigating Burisma for corruption and, within two months, on Feb. 2, 2016, would seize four houses in Kyiv, two plots of land and a Rolls Royce belonging to Zlochevsky, who was living in exile in Dubai.
A month later, Shokin was fired, after Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in US aid to Ukraine.
“I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” Biden would brag to the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”
As Shokin’s probe gathered pace at the end of 2015, Pozharskyi ratcheted up the pressure on Hunter, emails on Hunter’s laptop show.
In an email to Hunter and Archer on Nov. 2, 2015, one month before the speakerphone call, Pozharskyi explicitly demanded that they use their influence to “close down” the criminal investigation against Burisma.
Archer also is expected to detail other speakerphone meetings in his testimony, including a dinner at a restaurant in Paris where Hunter whipped out his phone and put his father on speaker to impress prospective investors.
Sonny’s go-to party trick
Hunter performed the same party trick as many as two dozen times in Archer’s presence, the Long Island-born father of three is expected to tell congressional investigators under oath.
Another former business partner, Tony Bobulinski, recalls Hunter offering to get his father on the phone during a meeting by the pool at the Chateau Marmont in LA.
“I am also aware of other Biden family business associates confirming that Joe would take phone calls from Hunter in the middle of business meetings and would weigh in via speakerphone,” says Bobulinski.
“Sitting with Hunter at Chateau Marmont before I first met Joe Biden on May 2, 2017, Hunter was adamant that his father takes his calls at any time, no matter what his lawyers say or with gatekeepers like Kate Bedingfield [former Biden spokesperson] playing interference.
“The American people don’t fully appreciate yet the key role Joe Biden played in the Biden family global influence peddling . . . I would equate it to a chairman’s role in a traditional business structure.”
Bobulinski met with Joe twice in LA in 2017, to be vetted as CEO of a joint venture Hunter and his uncle Jim Biden were planning with Chinese energy company CEFC, which would end up netting them millions of dollars for no discernible product or service.
Both meetings at the Beverly Hilton were in May 2017, four months after Joe left office as VP.
Archer refused to comment yesterday, but a close associate said he is testifying because he believes it is his “civic duty.”
He has “nothing to hide, no revenge to enact nor anyone to protect other than his family and he feels he has been handcuffed by the absurdly bogus [fraud] case into remaining silent. In a forum where he has immunity he can at least start to speak truth.”
Since news broke that Archer would testify before the Republican-controlled committee, his family has been receiving death threats and warnings to “keep your mouth shut.”
During about one-quarter of the speakerphone calls witnessed by Archer, Hunter would introduce his father to the foreigners with whom he was transacting business.
But at other times he would just speak to Joe without acknowledging that other people were listening in, so is not clear how often VP Biden was aware that he was being used as leverage by his son.
Hunter told CBS News in 2021 that he spoke to his father “every night.”
DC business dinner
Archer also is expected to testify about two dinners Hunter organized for his VP father to meet business partners from Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan in a private room at Georgetown restaurant Café Milano, one in April 2015, and another in early 2016.
Burisma executive Pozharskyi attended the first dinner, on April 16, 2015, along with Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina, and her husband, former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov.
The next day, Hunter received an email from Pozharskyi to thank him for introducing him to his father.
“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together,” Pozharskyi wrote. “It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”
Joe Biden repeatedly has said he knew nothing about his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings.
A bombshell FBI document released last week by Sen. Chuck Grassley described an allegation that Zlochevsky told an FBI informant in 2016 he had paid a $10 million bribe to Joe and Hunter Biden “to ensure Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired.”
Zlochevsky also allegedly claimed to have two recordings of conversations which included Joe Biden, and another 15 recordings involving Hunter, as well as “many text messages” and two documents that the informant “understood to be wire transfer statements, bank records” that record “payment(s) to the Bidens were made, presumably in exchange for Shokin’s firing.”
In the FBI document, known as an FD-1023, Zlochevsky is quoted calling Joe Biden “the big guy.”
Archer is expected to testify that “big guy” was a nickname used by Hunter’s business partners to refer to his father. Bobulinski also says Joe Biden is the “big guy.”
In a notorious 2017 email to Hunter and Bobulinski, their business partner James Gilliar outlined percentage equity breakdowns of a joint venture with Chinese firm CEFC, with “10 held by H for the big guy?”
The identity of the “big guy” also formed part of the grand jury investigation in Wilmington, Del., into Hunter’s business dealings.
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