Hints at what’s behind the Biden bribery claim: Republicans in Congress claimed last week that they have evidence of a “criminal scheme” in which President Biden agreed to make certain policy decisions in exchange for money for his relatives. It wasn’t clear last week what the accusation was about specifically, but the Oversight Committee plans to unveil evidence Wednesday.
Joe Biden’s Next Crisis?
The accusation came Friday: Republicans in Congress are citing a whistleblower complaint that threatens to blow their investigations into Hunter Biden’s business deals wide open.
Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced Friday that the FBI possesses a document that “describes an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions. It has been alleged that the document includes a precise description of how the alleged criminal scheme was employed as well as its purpose.”
That announcement did not go into many specifics about the claim, what country it involves, who the whistleblower is, or what exactly the wrongdoing was. And Grassley himself admitted in an interview over the weekend that the claim might not be true.
Comer has since announced that the House Oversight Committee, which he chairs, will host a news conference Wednesday to announce what evidence they have, and have even asked the Department of Justice to hold off on announcing any charging decisions related to their own investigation into Hunter Biden.
Now, there’s another report indicating what all this is about.
The New York Post reported Monday that Biden bribery allegations were brought to the Department of Justice in 2018 — during the Trump presidency — and that nothing was done with them.
Per the newspaper, a former federal prosecutor named Bud Cummins reported in an email to then-U.S. Attorney Geoff Berman that they had evidence that “exercised influence to protect” Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian employer (presumably Burisma) “in exchange for payments to Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, and Joe Biden.”
Berman, however, never responded to the email. Trump went on to fire Berman as U.S. Attorney in the summer of 2020.
It is not clear if this is the same claim that’s at the heart of the new whistleblower matter. But that it was brought to a U.S. attorney’s office and to people close to then-President Trump, during a Republican presidency when it appeared Biden would be running for president — and they did nothing with it — indicates that there may have been nothing substantial to the allegations.
Cummins, per the Post, says that federal prosecutors “secretly obtained data from Cummins’ iPhone with a grand jury subpoena to Apple,” during the impeachment trial.
Cummins was a U.S. attorney for Arkansas during the George W. Bush administration and was later among the U.S. attorneys controversially dismissed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in 2006. In the 2016 campaign, he served as Arkansas chairman of Chris Christie’s presidential campaign and later joined the Trump orbit.
According to an ABC News story in late 2019, Ukraine’s then-chief prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, had hired Cummins the previous year to connect with “high-level” U.S. officials, in order to seek to demonstrate that Biden was corrupt when he was vice president.
Lutsenko, who really was fired due to pressure from then-Vice President Biden and other parts of the international community, ended up becoming a major figure in Trump’s first impeachment. But that firing was due to his refusal to crack down on corruption, and not because he was investigating Burisma when Hunter Biden was involved with it.
“I knew precious little about Ukrainian politics at that stage,” Cummins told ABC about his work on behalf of Lutsenko, adding that he later “picked up” that the Ukrainian prosecutor “may or may not be a credible guy.”
The ABC story added that Cummins brought the allegations to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, after “Cummins seemed unable to find a receptive audience in the U.S. law enforcement community,” which presumably included the reach out to U.S. Attorney Berman.
Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.