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June 14, 2024

Key witness declines to testify at Biden impeachment inquiry hearing

Key witness declines to testify at Biden impeachment inquiry hearing

WASHINGTON — Devon Archer, a former business associate of Hunter Biden and a key witness in the GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, has declined an invitation to appear at a public hearing Wednesday before a pair of Republican-led House panels.

Archer’s attorney Matthew Schwartz said Monday that there is not enough time for his client to prepare for the high-profile public hearing held by the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, according to a copy of a letter addressed to House Oversight counsel that was obtained by NBC News.

“It is not remotely reasonable to ask an important witness in what is sure to be a closely watched public hearing that the Committee has provocatively entitled ‘Influence Peddling: Examining Joe Biden’s Abuse of Public Office’ to prepare witness testimony in one business day, and to prepare to give public testimony in less than three days—particularly when he is traveling,” Schwartz wrote.

ABC News first reported the letter.

A spokeswoman for the Oversight Committee told NBC News that the panel sent the invitation at the beginning of March and that Archer’s counsel confirmed receipt, adding that it is now “unfortunate Devon Archer appears to be planning to not testify at the hearing.”

Schwartz said in his letter that the invitation “was never sent to me, and as you well know (and as the lawyer to whom you sent the letter has confirmed), I have been the only lawyer to represent Mr. Archer in the Committee’s work, including representing him at the July interview.”

In a statement to NBC News, Schwartz said, “Mr. Archer remains ready and willing to cooperate with all authorities in their legitimate investigations, just as he has already done repeatedly with both House and DOJ investigators.”

Archer previously appeared for a closed-door transcribed interview with committee investigators in July and testified that he was not aware of any wrongdoing by the president, including, as has been alleged, that he changed U.S. foreign policy in any way to benefit the business dealings of his son Hunter Biden.

Archer was invited to be a part of a panel of witnesses to bolster unproven Republican claims that the president was directly involved in his son’s work and engaged in wrongdoing. The probe has yet to provide any evidence to that effect.

The committees also extended hearing invitations to Hunter Biden and his former business associates Tony Bobulinski and Jason Galanis.

Bobulinski has agreed to appear in person, while Galanis will appear remotely from federal prison as he serves a 14-year sentence tied to a fraud conviction. In separate closed-door interviews, Bobulinski and Galanis both claimed that Hunter Biden used his father’s name to help his business prospects, but they provided no direct evidence that the president used his public office to help his son in any way.

Hunter Biden declined to participate in the hearing after previously having indicated he would if it were open to the public. His attorney Abbe Lowell last week blasted the scheduled hearing as a “carnival side show.” Lowell said his client would agree to appear at Wednesday’s hearing only if the committees included “relatives of former President Trump,” including the former president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom he has also previously represented.

House Republicans have targeted Hunter Biden in their impeachment inquiry into his father. Their probe sustained a critical blow last month when former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, whose claims played a prominent role in sparking the probe, was indicted and accused of lying to the FBI about Joe Biden and his son during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Hunter Biden sat for a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill last month, repeatedly rejecting allegations that his father had any involvement with his business dealings and saying his relationship with Bobulinski soured when he pulled out of a business deal with him.

During his testimony, Hunter Biden called the probe a “baseless and destructive political charade” based on “MAGA-motivated conspiracies.” His more than six hours of testimony appears to have dimmed support for an impeachment among some House Republicans, NBC News has reported.

Rebecca Kaplan, Ryan Nobles and Sarah Fitzpatrick reported from Washington and Zoë Richards from New York.

Rebecca Kaplan

Rebecca is a producer and off-air reporter covering Congress for NBC News, managing coverage of the House.

Ryan Nobles

Ryan Nobles is a correspondent covering Capitol Hill.

Sarah Fitzpatrick

Sarah Fitzpatrick is a senior investigative producer and story editor for NBC News. She previously worked for CBS News and “60 Minutes.” 

Zoë Richards

Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.

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