Cherry-Picking ‘Influence’ Payment from James to Joe Biden

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A subpoena of bank records of Biden family members has turned up a $200,000 payment in 2018 from James Biden to his brother Joe Biden, and Rep. James Comer, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, is citing it as proof “that Joe Biden benefited from his family’s influence peddling scheme.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a committee member, said it proved Joe Biden was guilty of “money laundering.” And Rep. Lauren Boebert, also a committee member, said it was “the textbook definition of corruption.”

But as has been the case so often in the House investigation of the finances of Joe Biden’s family members, the claims have outpaced the evidence so far.

The $200,000 payment from James Biden on March 1, 2018, was labeled “loan repayment” in the memo field on the check, and Democrats on the oversight committee say bank records also show a payment from Joe Biden to his brother six weeks prior, which they say is consistent with a no-interest, short-term loan to James Biden.

James Biden’s $200,000 “loan repayment” to his brother came on the same day he received a $200,000 check from Americore Health, a for-profit hospital chain. A publicly available bankruptcy court complaint filed in July 2022 shows that the financially struggling Americore alleges that it loaned James Biden a total of $600,000 “based upon representations that his last name, ‘Biden,’ could ‘open doors’ and that he could obtain a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections.”

Comer argues that the $200,000 check from James Biden to Joe Biden shows Joe Biden was in on the “influence peddling scheme,” but that link hasn’t been established. An attorney for James Biden says Joe Biden was not involved in any of James Biden’s business ventures, and that Biden — who was not in office or running for office at the time — simply gave his brother a short-term loan that was paid back.

FactCheck.org has obtained some of the bank records in question, and we’ll sort through the available evidence to date.

On Sept. 28, Comer and Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, issued three subpoenas for Hunter and James Biden’s personal and business bank records. On Oct. 20, Comer publicly released a copy of a $200,000 personal check from James Biden and his wife, Sara, to Joe Biden.

As we said, the check, dated March 1, 2018, and marked “loan repayment,” came on the same day that James Biden received a check for $200,000 from Americore.

The payment from Americore is not new information. The July 2022 complaint in bankruptcy court shows Americore wire transferred $400,000 to James Biden’s account on Jan. 12, 2018, and another $200,000 on March 1, 2018. The documentation prepared by Americore references the sums as a “loan.”

James Biden secured the loans “based upon representations that his last name, ‘Biden,’ could ‘open doors’ and that he could obtain a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections,” the document states.

That investment never materialized, though the complaint said James Biden did help Americore “procure an ill-advised bridge loan from a hedge fund that had a deleterious impact on the financial affairs” of the company and “ultimately forced [it] into bankruptcy.” According to the complaint, James Biden “never repaid the Loans to Americore Health, including during the time that Debtors were strapped for cash.”

In a settlement reached on Sept. 23, 2022, James Biden agreed to return $350,000.

That had all been publicly reported at the time. What was new was the revelation by the oversight committee that Joe Biden got a $200,000 check from James Biden on the same day James got $200,000 from Americore.

“It’s a loan repayment from when President Biden loaned his brother money,” White House spokesman Ian Sams posted on X. “When he was out of office in 2018, no less. It’s right there on the check!”

Democrats on the committee said Republicans ignored that bank records also showed a payment in the same amount from Joe Biden to James Biden six weeks prior to that, consistent with the White House’s claim of a short-term loan.

Then Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, left, and his brother James Biden during the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008. Photo by Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images.

“These records actually show that President Biden was the one who stepped in to help family members when they needed support, including by providing short term loans to his brother,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the oversight committee.

“These bank records show that in 2017 and 2018, while President Biden was not in office, he provided two short-term loans to his brother, James, who repaid each loan within two months,” Raskin said in a press release on Oct. 20.

FactCheck.org obtained an Excel spreadsheet of wire transfer records and check images that are consistent with Raskin’s account.

Those records show two wire transfers from Joe Biden to a joint account for James and Sara Biden, one for $40,000 on July 28, 2017, and one for $200,000 on Jan. 12, 2018. The wires came from an “Attorney Trust Account” maintained by Joe Biden’s attorneys at the firm “MONZACK MERSKY MCLAUGHLIN BROWDER.”

A check image from Sept. 3, 2017, shows a $40,000 payment from a joint account for James and Sara Biden to Joe Biden (the check is signed by Sara Biden and is labeled “loan repayment” on the memo line). The payment was deposited into the same account from which the $40,000 wire payment was made 38 days prior.

An image of another check — the one highlighted by Comer — shows a $200,000 payment from a joint account for James and Sara Biden to Joe Biden on March 1, 2018. That’s 48 days after Joe Biden wired James Biden a similar amount. It, too, is noted as “loan repayment” in the memo line.

In an emailed statement to the Wall Street Journal, James Biden’s attorney, Paul Fishman, wrote, “The Committee has the bank documents that show both the loan Jim received from his brother in January 2018 and the repayment by check six weeks later. At no time did Jim involve his brother in any of his business relationships.”

Comer made several appearances on conservative media touting the check as a breakthrough in the investigation into Joe Biden.

Comer, Fox Business News, Oct. 23: We just proved that Joe Biden benefited from his family’s influence peddling scheme. Look, this check that Jim Biden wrote to Joe Biden came on the same day he received a $200,000 loan from a company that was on the verge of bankruptcy, and today is bankrupt.

On the check to Joe Biden, his brother put “loan repayment.” Now, the White House is saying that Joe Biden loaned his brother money. I don’t believe he did. But whatever, let’s just say they pull something out of their rear end that says Joe Biden loaned Jim Biden money. Either way, Jim Biden – and we have his personal bank records, I can say with confidence – had no money to pay Joe Biden back, other than that $200,000 wire that came from Americore Health Co.

So either Joe Biden got paid directly $200,000 from his brother as part of a kickback of a cut from the influence peddling scheme or Joe Biden did loan his brother money but his brother couldn’t have paid it back without the influence peddling scheme. And there are bankruptcy court documents that spell meticulously exactly what Jim Biden did to receive that money. He went to Americore Health knowing they were in bad financial shape and said, “If you pay me money, I can use my brother’s contacts in the Middle East to get you all the capital you need to make you solvent again.” That’s called influence peddling. And that’s what we’ve proven: that Joe Biden benefited. He either made $200,000 or he didn’t lose $200,000. Either way, he’s $200,000 ahead because of his influence peddling scheme.

Comer is ignoring another option, the one claimed by the White House: that Joe Biden provided a short-term, no interest loan to his brother, and that six weeks later James Biden paid that money back with money obtained in a business deal that did not involve Joe Biden. Raskin said the bank records show that Joe Biden “was not involved in and did not profit from his family members’ business ventures.”

The records don’t prove one way or another if Joe Biden was involved in the Americore Health enterprise. But the burden remains with Republicans on the oversight committee to prove their case.

Comer has also insisted that “there’s no document that shows there was a loan.” In an interview on Fox Business News on Oct. 25, host Maria Bartiromo asked Comer if he had “seen anything to indicate that there was an actual loan for some reason?”

“No, and they’re lying,” Comer said.

“At the end of the day, there’s no document that shows there was a loan,” Comer said. “The Democrats on the oversight committee, they get the same stuff that I subpoena. When I subpoena something, Maria, they make two copies, one for me, the Republicans, and one for the Democrats, Jamie Raskin. So if they had the darn document, they would have showed it. This is another example of their lies and the media takes it.”

But in a press release issued on Oct. 26 that echoed points made in a letter from Raskin to Comer the same day, Democrats on the oversight committee accused Comer of a “willingness to cherry-pick and misrepresent the content of these bank records.”

“Despite the Oversight Committee receiving the exact bank record showing that President Biden made a $200,000 interest-free loan to his brother James Biden, Chairman Comer has repeatedly omitted that fact, falsely suggesting President Biden is ‘$200,000 better off today because of his family’s influence peddling scheme,’” the release states. “For example, on Friday, October 20, Chairman Comer released a check dated March 1, 2018, in the amount of $200,000 from James Biden to his brother marked ‘loan repayment.’ The bank records provided to the Committee clearly showed that President Biden had wired $200,000 to his brother on January 12, 2018—less than two months earlier. Despite clear evidence that this transaction was a short-term, interest-free loan between brothers, which occurred while President Biden was also a private citizen, Chairman Comer misleadingly told Fox News, ‘I don’t believe’ that ‘Joe Biden did give his brother a loan,’ and falsely asserted to Fox Business, ‘there is no document that shows there was a loan,’ among other misrepresentations.”

Again, our review of bank records did not show any documentation that wire transfers of $40,000 and $200,000 from Joe Biden to James Biden were loans. Perhaps there is no official documentation indicating that they were loans. However, images show James or Sara Biden writing checks to Joe Biden several weeks after those wire transfers in those exact same amounts, and with “loan repayment” listed in the memo lines. That’s consistent with the White House’s claim that these were short-term, no-interest loans.


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