WASHINGTON (AP) — Intelligence officials had gathered to brief select members of Congress on future threats to U.S. elections when a key lawmaker in the room, No. 3 House Republican Elise Stefanik of New York, tried to move the discussion to a new topic: Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Stefanik, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, asked the officials during the April 1 briefing whether they had any evidence of Russian involvement in the release of Biden’s laptop to the news media in the fall of 2020 — a possibility floated by high-ranking former government officials in the weeks before the presidential election. Intelligence officials told Stefanik the question would be better answered by law enforcement.
Stefanik’s query, shared with The Associated Press by a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified meeting, reflects a widespread sentiment in the GOP that questions about the financial dealings of President Joe Biden’s son remain unanswered. And they say they intend to do something about it.
As Republicans prepare for a possible return to power amid rising hopes of winning the House and the Senate in the November elections, they are laying the groundwork to make Hunter Biden and his business dealings a central target of their investigative and oversight efforts.
Republican lawmakers and staff have discussed analyzing specific messages and financial transactions found on the laptop and have also discussed issuing congressional subpoenas to foreign entities involved in paying Hunter Biden, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The conversations have been in the early stages but have included talks of bringing on Republican lawyers and former Justice Department officials to help lead the investigations, the people said.
The White House in turn is preparing to defend the Democratic president from any allegations of wrongdoing and make the case that Republicans are driven by opportunism. Democrats are likely to point out how Republicans did not seek investigations into President Donald Trump's own business pursuits in Russia and China or into the foreign dealings of his children and son-in-law while they held key campaign or White House roles.
It all raises the possibility of a messy, politically explosive showdown between a GOP-controlled Congress and the White House, one that could delve deeply into the affairs of the president’s family and shape the contours of the 2024 race for the White House.
Hunter Biden’s taxes and foreign business work are already under federal investigation, with a grand jury in Delaware hearing testimony in recent months. While he never held a position on the presidential campaign or in the White House, Hunter Biden's membership on the board of a Ukrainian energy company and his efforts to strike deals in China have long raised questions about whether he traded on his father’s public service, including reported references in his emails to the “big guy.”
Joe Biden has said he's never spoken to his son about his foreign business. And there are no indications that the federal investigation involves the president in any way. The White House declined to comment, and a lawyer for Hunter Biden did not respond to an email.
Republican leaders see Hunter Biden as a unifying force that can bring together different factions of the GOP and potentially satiate those calling for more dramatic action. Some members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus have said the first order of business for a Republican majority should be an impeachment trial of Joe Biden in retaliation for the two impeachments of Trump.