On August 3, Hunter Biden associate Devon Archer’s testimony from earlier in the week was made public. Even though Republicans and right-wing media had relentlessly hyped the testimony — insisting it would be the nail in the coffin that revealed President Joe Biden’s corrupt involvement in his son’s business practices — the testimony did no such thing.
Devon Archer’s testimony failed to connect Joe Biden’s access to Hunter’s business dealings
- While Archer did testify that Hunter Biden sought to sell an “illusion of access” to his father, his testimony repeatedly showed that the access was not actually there. When repeatedly questioned on whether Hunter influenced Joe Biden on U.S. or foreign policy, Archer testified that Hunter was merely selling an “illusion of access” and there was no actual influence from Joe. Asked if Hunter ever “discussed policy,” “discussed business,” “influenced American politics for the purpose of his business,” “or asked the Vice President to do anything improper,” Archer answered that he did not.
- Joe Biden was in frequent contact with his son, but Archer testified that the nature of these calls were largely mundane and irrelevant to their business. The communications between Joe and Hunter Biden, according to Archer, can be better characterized as a father “checking in” on his son regularly. Archer described the calls as “casual conversations” about “weather” or “fishing” but not about “cap tables or financials or anything like that.”
- While Joe Biden did attend several dinners with Hunter Biden and his associates, Archer testified that the nature of these dinners remained casual and not related to business. Archer described one of these dinners as “just a regular dinner” that did not include discussions of business. In another portion of his testimony, Archer confirmed, in response to a query, that the dinner “was not about Hunter Biden’s businesses with his various associates” and was, as Archer said, “dinner conversation.”
- The testimony also undermined right-wing media claims that Hunter Biden used Joe Biden’s influence to raise Chinese capital. Archer confirmed that “we didn’t raise capital from the Chinese” and, in response to a question about whether they needed to solicit “Chinese investments,” he said they “didn't have a fundraising capacity.” Archer also denied that Hunter ever spoke to him about “how important that relationship to China was to his family.”
- Archer denied that then-Vice President Joe Biden’s support for the firing of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin was done to halt a corruption investigation into Burisma and his son. Right-wing media have spent years insisting that Joe fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin because of his corruption investigation into Burisma — a critical point in Donald Trump’s first 2019 impeachment. Archer testified that he was not aware of any Shokin investigation into Burisma and that the “firing of Shokin was bad for Burisma because he was under control.” Archer was further pressed on whether he “has any basis to believe that Vice President Biden’s call for Shokin’s removal was driven by anything other than the U.S. Government’s anticorruption policy in Ukraine,” to which Archer testified that he had no reason to believe otherwise.
- Archer denied any knowledge that the founder of Burisma bribed Hunter and Joe Biden to protect the company from Shokin’s investigation. As The Washington Post’s analysis shows, Archer “was never aware of any such bribe offered to Hunter Biden or anyone else.” In the testimony, Archer indicated that he was not aware of “evidence that Joe Biden was bribed by Mykola Zlochevsky,” Burisma’s founder. Instead, Archer agreed that Ukrainian businessmen like Zlochevsky — “similar to D.C. operators” — liked to “give off the impression of access that they don’t necessarily actually deliver on.”
Other journalists have similarly concluded that Archer’s testimony did not reveal what conservatives insisted it would
Washington Post analyst Philip Bump published a piece titled “Devon Archer said the opposite of what Republicans claimed.” Bump summarized arguments made by Republicans like Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) and noted that Archer’s testimony essentially revealed the opposite. As Bump wrote:
All of this is tied together in the narrative that Comer and Jordan have been presenting: Burisma was being probed by prosecutor Viktor Shokin so they needed Hunter Biden to loop in his father, and his father obliged. The bribery claim asserts that Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma with whom Hunter Biden and Archer met, had paid millions to Biden and his father to help protect the company from Shokin.
On Thursday, the Oversight Committee released a transcript of Archer’s testimony — testimony for which Comer wasn’t present. What Archer said not only doesn’t comport with the presentations made by Comer and Jordan on television (which were obviously wrong from the outset), his testimony undermines the idea that Burisma wanted Shokin fired, that Zlochevsky paid any bribe — and, crucially, that Joe Biden was involved in any of this. [The Washington Post, 8/3/23]
CNN published an article noting that Archer testified that Joe Biden discussed “‘nothing’ important with Hunter Biden business associates.” CNN further highlighted a lack of involvement from the elder Biden revealed in Archer’s testimony:
Devon Archer also testified that he was not privy to any conversations between Hunter Biden and Joe Biden in which they discussed how Joe Biden would take official actions on behalf of his son, nor did he have any knowledge of an alleged bribery scheme involving the former vice president.
Archer said he was not aware of any $5 million payment to Hunter or his father from the Ukrainian official.
Archer also told lawmakers that he was “not aware of any” wrongdoing by President Biden, the transcript shows. [CNN, 8/3/23]
NBC reported that Archer testified that he “has no knowledge of wrongdoing by Joe Biden.” NBC concluded that while communications with Joe took place, and that Hunter Biden sold an “illusion of access,” nothing Archer testified to pointed to any wrongdoing on Joe’s part:
Archer also said that he did not disagree with the conclusion that Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Bursma had no effect on U.S. foreign policy. And Archer testified that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden as it related to his son’s business dealings.
The witness also said there were roughly 20 phone calls in which Hunter Biden would put his father on speakerphone in the presence of business associates, but he said that the brief conversations focused on pleasantries like the weather or fishing, not official business. [NBC, 8/3/23]
Right-wing media are still continuing to hammer their narrative that Devon Archer’s testimony links Joe Biden to Hunter’s business dealings
Despite what we’ve learned from the testimony, right-wing media are continuing their barrage of lies about the Archer testimony, relying on smoke, mirrors, and the convoluted nature of legal documents to distort the truth for their audience and insist that the testimony was the smoking gun that they promised it would be.
- Legal analyst Jonathan Turley insisted that Joe Biden fired Shokin to help Burisma, despite Archer’s testimony claiming otherwise. Turley wrote, “They wanted the Bidens to take the heat off. Biden later insisted on the firing of the prosecutor.” [Twitter/X, 8/3/23]
- In a piece for Townhall, Katie Pavlich insisted on a nefarious spin to Joe Biden’s communications with Hunter Biden. Pavlich wrote: “Despite Joe Biden's claims he never spoke with Hunter Biden's business partners, met with them or knew what kind of things they were doing, Archer reconfirmed the former vice president attended dinner with those exact people.” [Townhall, 8/3/23]
- The Daily Caller also made a big deal about Joe Biden having dinner with his son and associates. The reporting omitted Archer’s repeated assertions that Joe never sold access to Hunter or his associates, and that the dinners were casual and not business-related. [The Daily Caller, 8/3/23]
- The day before the transcript was released, The Federalist’s reporting scandalized Hunter Biden’s calls with Joe. The Federalist wrote: “In an attempt to build what Archer called ‘the Biden brand’ and sell access to the then-vice president, Hunter Biden put his dad on speakerphone two dozen times in the presence of his various financial partners.” [The Federalist, 8/2/23]
- The Federalist’s reporting after the transcript’s release latched onto Hunter’s “illusion of access.” The article claimed that Joe “was instrumental in his son’s overseas business dealings to enrich the family” despite Archer’s testimony that Joe ultimately did not involve himself in Hunter’s business dealings. [The Federalist, 8/3/23]
- On Twitter/X, Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk mischaracterized the conclusions from the testimony. Kirk claimed, “Devon Archer's testimony before House Oversight exposes why Burisma and various other foreign oligarchs were willing to shell out $$ millions to the Bidens: ACCESS + PROTECTION.” [Twitter/X, 8/3/23]
- The day before the transcript was released, Fox host Mark Levin claimed that Archer’s testimony shows “Joe Biden should be impeached.” Levin went on to claim, “For weeks I’ve said Joe Biden is a co-conspirator in Hunter’s FARA criminal violations. We didn’t need Archer’s testimony to demonstrate it. It underscores what’s already known.” [Twitter/X, 8/2/23]