Several Republicans admitted this week that they don’t know if there are actually recordings of President Joe Biden accepting a bribe as they have suggested, HuffPost reports.
On Monday, Sen. Chuck Grassley revealed that the 2020 tip the FBI received indicated a foreign national, who claimed to have bribed Biden with $5 million, has tapes of himself talking to Biden during his vice presidency.
The audio was presented as a new development about the FBI tip, which Republicans learned of last month and have since demanded be made public. But, according to HuffPost, “the uncertainty over whether the recordings actually exist is a reminder that while the tip came from a credible career informant, the informant’s source is someone else, and the underlying information, audio and all, remains unverified hearsay.”
Legislators “don’t know if they’re legit or not, but we know that the foreign national claims he has them,” House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said of the tapes on Newsmax Tuesday.
Comer pressed the FBI to show the committee a redacted copy of the form for confidential human sources in a private briefing last week. He said that the June 2020 worksheet points to someone paying Biden and his son, Hunter, a large sum in bribes several years ago.
The FBI, however, has previously refused to make the form public on the grounds that those documents can contain unverified information and their release can put the sources at risk.
“We don’t know for sure if these tapes exist,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on “The Chris Salcedo Show” Wednesday when asked if Republicans would consider impeaching Biden.
Jordan was not the only Republican lawmaker to acknowledge the dubiousness of the tapes’ existence in a press appearance this week. On an episode of “The Conservative Circus,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., reiterated that the tapes might not exist and warned that the informant might not be completely credible either.
“We don’t know really if the tapes exist, we just don’t know that, whether this was just a bluff on the part of, whoever the executive was, I think it was Mykola Zlochevsky, the CEO of the… the corrupt oligarch,” Johnson said.
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Since former President Donald Trump attempted to convince Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate the Bidens in 2019, Burisma, the Ukrainian holding company that Zlochevsky heads, has been the focal point of GOP attacks against the current president. Republicans had accused Hunter, who served as a board member for the company during Biden’s vice presidency, of presenting a conflict of interest by advocating for the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor. But the termination of the prosecutor, who was not investigating the company, was a goal of the U.S. and other western countries.
Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., pointed out that Zlochevsky said in 2019 that he did not have contact with President Biden during a committee hearing on Wednesday.
“The issue here is, is there any connection to President Biden? They have provided zero actual evidence to that effect,” Goldman later told HuffPost. “And yet they are smearing him with innuendo and debunked allegations to try to create the impression that then-Vice President Biden did anything wrong.”
Grassley told HuffPost he was able to announce the tip document mentioning the audio recordings because he and Comer had previously seen a less-redacted copy of the file the FBI presented them last week. He added that he was attempting to obtain that copy of the document and believed it suspicious that the existence of the tapes would be redacted.
Like several other GOP lawmakers, Grassley indicated that the most pressing concern about the bribe allegations is whether the bureau diligently investigated the claims as it moves to prosecute Trump, who was arraigned Tuesday in the federal case regarding his handling of classified documents post-presidency.
“Does the FBI follow up on it or not? Because the FBI ought to be able to answer the question for you and me, and the reason they ought to be able to answer it [is] because it’s an unclassified document,” Grassley said. “And what I hope to do is make this document public.”
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