Joe Biden greeted Hunter Biden's associates and clients on phone, but wasn't involved in business, witness says

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WASHINGTON — Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's former business associate, told lawmakers during testimony on Monday that Hunter Biden put President Joe Biden on the phone with clients before his father was elected to the White House.

But Archer still argued that Joe Biden wasn't involved in their financial dealings, despite the contacts.

Republicans have alleged for months that Joe Biden knew about his son's business dealings and was engaged in influence peddling with his family while he served as vice president. It's an allegation that the White House has denied and called baseless innuendo.

Archer's testimony also came after Hunter Biden's decision to plead not guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges in a Wilmington, Delaware, court last week. He was originally expected to plead guilty under an agreement made with federal prosecutors, which Republicans claimed was a "sweetheart deal."

But who is Devon Archer? What else did he tell lawmakers about the president and his son? Here's what you need to know.

Archer says Hunter Biden put Joe Biden on the phone with associates

Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., told reporters that Archer's testimony did not indicate Joe Biden was involved in his son's business dealings.

Goldman said that Archer testified Hunter Biden would often put his father on speaker phone with whomever he happened to have dinner with − whether it was a business associate or a friend. However, "the witness was very, very consistent that none of those conversations ever had to do with any business dealings or transactions," Goldman said.

"Hunter spoke to his father every day, and approximately 20 times over the course of a 10-year relationship, Hunter may have put his father on the phone with any number of different people," Goldman said.

Goldman also said that Archer testified Hunter Biden sold "the illusion of access to his father" as he tried to take credit for things that Joe Biden did that Hunter Biden played no role in.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-AZ., told reporters he thinks the testimony implicated the president and that there should be an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. The Arizona lawmaker said that Archer testified the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings LLC, where Archer and Biden were both board members, "would have gone out of business sooner if the Biden brand had not been invoked."

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who wasn't in the meeting, told reporters Archer's testimony proved Joe Biden was involved in his son's business dealings, according to Fox News.

Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson for Oversight and Investigations, told USA TODAY in a statement that "it appears that the House Republicans’ own much-hyped witness today testified that he never heard of President Biden discussing business with his son or his son’s associates, or doing anything wrong."

Who is Devon Archer?

Archer joined the board of Burisma Holdings LLC with Hunter Biden in 2014. He also co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners, a private equity firm, with Hunter Biden and Christopher Heinz, John Kerry’s stepson, in 2009.

Republicans believed Archer could be key in revealing information about Joe Biden allegedly being involved in Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings as a growing group of conservative lawmakers push to impeach the president.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., previously subpoenaed Archer in June to appear for a deposition, noting in a letter to Archer's attorney that he "played a significant role in the Biden family’s business deals abroad, including but not limited to China, Russia, and Ukraine." Comer also wrote that Archer has met Joe Biden on multiple occasions and was involved in transactions involving foreign companies and foreign nationals with Hunter Biden.

Comer said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday that Archer had the opportunity to tell the truth about the Bidens' business dealings in front of the committee.

“Devon Archer could be in that category of Americans that just come and tell the truth. That's all we want,” Comer said.

Republicans raise speculation ahead of Archer's testimony

Archer was convicted in 2018 for his role in a scheme surrounding the fraudulent issuance and sale of more than $60 million in tribal bonds. He was sentenced to a year and day in prison last year, and a Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit earlier this month denied Archer’s appeal of his sentence.

The Justice Department sent a request to the judge overseeing the case on Saturday to schedule a time and date for when Archer can surrender and serve his term in prison. But some Republicans, including Comer, raised allegations about the timing of the letter as Archer's testimony approached.

“It’s odd that it was issued on a Saturday, and it’s odd that it’s right before he’s scheduled to come in to have an opportunity to speak in front of the House Oversight Committee and tell the American people the truth about what really went on with Burisma,” Comer said in an interview Sunday.

However, Matthew Schwartz, Archer’s attorney, denied the allegation.

“To be clear, Mr. Archer does not agree with that speculation. In any case, Mr. Archer will do what he has planned to do all along, which is to show up on Monday and to honestly answer the questions that are put to him by the Congressional investigators,” Schwartz said in a statement to CNN on Sunday.

The Justice Department sent a follow-up letter Sunday that says “the Government does not request (and has never requested) that the defendant surrender before his Congressional testimony.”

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hunter Biden put Joe Biden on phone with associates, witness says