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House GOP recommends criminal charges for Hunter and Jim Biden

House Republicans on Wednesday sent criminal referrals to the Justice Department for Hunter and Jim Biden — a high-profile step that spins out of their largely stalled Joe Biden impeachment effort.

Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and special counsel David Weiss alleging that the president’s son and brother made false statements to Congress and recommending the DOJ bring charges. They also specifically accused Hunter Biden of committing perjury.

“Hunter Biden and James Biden made provably false statements to the Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Committee about key aspects of the impeachment inquiry,” the three Republicans wrote in the letter.

Spokespeople for Hunter Biden’s and Jim Biden’s legal teams didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Speaker Mike Johnson called for quick action on the referrals, saying in a statement Wednesday: “If the Attorney General wishes to demonstrate he is not running a two-tiered system of justice and targeting the President’s political opponents, he will open criminal investigations into James and Hunter Biden … and he will announce it immediately.”

Johnson’s decision to single out Garland comes as House Republicans are gearing up to hold a vote next week on holding the attorney general in contempt for refusing to hand over recordings of former special counsel Robert Hur’s interview with Joe Biden. It’s not yet clear that they have the votes locked down, with several members publicly on the fence or hoping the two sides can cut a deal and de-escalate the standoff.

Wednesday’s criminal referrals to the Justice Department are non-binding, meaning the DOJ doesn’t have to do anything with them, despite Johnson’s overture for quick action. But House Republicans have increasingly touted those types of efforts as a landing spot for their months-long inquiry, which has largely focused on the business deals of Joe Biden’s family members.

Though Republicans unanimously formalized the inquiry late last year, actually impeaching Joe Biden has long seemed out of reach because even some House Republicans say they haven’t found clear evidence that the president committed a crime or an impeachable offense.

And while GOP lawmakers have openly acknowledged it’s unlikely the criminal referrals will gain traction with the DOJ this year, they view them as an investigative trail that former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department could pick up if he wins in November.

Republicans, as part of the allegations included in their criminal referral, are accusing Hunter Biden of lying to Congress when he said during a closed-door interview that an infamous WhatsApp message Republicans highlighted was actually sent to the wrong person. Hunter Biden said it was an “indication of how out of my mind I was at this moment in time.”

House GOP investigators said Hunter Biden was lying about accidentally sending a message meant for Raymond Zhao to an unrelated Henry Zhao, according to documents obtained by the Ways and Means Committee. Hunter Biden had sent it to Raymond Zhao, a Chinese business partner, and invoked his father’s presence with him as he wrote the messages, Republicans allege in the criminal referral letter. (An IRS whistleblower also characterized the message as going to Henry Zhao.)

In addition to telling House investigators earlier this year that he sent it to the wrong person, Hunter Biden also said that he was not sitting next to his father, despite the contents of the message saying otherwise, and that his father had no knowledge of the message.

Republicans, in their letter to the Justice Department, also said Jim Biden gave false testimony about not being at a “meeting” in 2017 with Hunter Biden, Joe Biden and Tony Bobulinski, a former Hunter Biden associate who has been critical of the Bidens for years and attended a 2020 presidential debate as a guest of Trump’s campaign.

Hunter Biden separately told the committee that he and Jim Biden were at a hotel bar with Bobulinski, where he met Joe Biden. Hunter Biden said the two talked about an ill family member of Bobulinski’s, but denied that they had a “meeting.”

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