A new report by the Senate Homeland Security Committee indicates that Hunter Biden’s private equity firm received $3.5 million from one of Russia’s most “powerful” female oligarchs in 2014.
The report, which was made public on Wednesday, shows that Rosemont Seneca Thornton, LLC, a firm that Biden incorporated with his longtime business associate Devon Archer in May 2013, had a previously unknown financial relationship with Yelena Baturina, a Russian businesswoman now living in the United Kingdom. According to bank documents reviewed by the Homeland Security Committee, Baturina wired $3.5 million to a bank account controlled by Rosemont Seneca Thornton as part of a “consultancy agreement.”
At the time of the transfer, Baturina, a well-known construction magnate, was living in the United Kingdom with her late husband Yuri Luzhkov, a onetime mayor of Moscow. Baturina and her husband immigrated to Great Britain in 2011 after Luzhkov was dismissed from public office by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as part of a public corruption probe. The former mayor, in particular, was accused of using his office to approve more than 20 real estate projects linked to Baturina’s business interests, according to the Homeland Security Committee.
“In addition, a Russian investigation led to a criminal case against the former head of the Bank of Moscow, Andrey Borodin, who ‘allegedly used money from the Moscow City Budget to lend money to shell companies, which ultimately transferred $443 million to Baturina,’” the committee’s report notes.
Luzhkov’s alleged grift was supposedly substantial enough to help propel Baturina into the ranks of Russia’s wealthy elite, with Forbesreporting in 2019 that her estimated net worth was $1.3 billion. Baturina’s fortune was large enough to qualify her as Russia’s richest woman and, as the Daily Mail has noted, the country’s most “powerful female oligarch.”
The nature of Baturina’s “agreement” with Rosemont Seneca Thornton remains unclear. The Homeland Security Committee’s report stems from an investigation into Biden’s ties to Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas conglomerate whose founder has been accused of public corruption, embezzlement, and bribery. Biden served on the company’s board of directors between 2014 and 2019, earning somewhere in the range of $83,000 per month.
Biden received appointment to the company’s board despite no background in either Eastern Europe or the energy sector, shortly after his father, former Vice President Joe Biden, was tapped to lead the Obama administration’s policy toward Ukraine in April 2014.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), as a Minnesota county prosecutor in the early 2000s, refused to prosecute the police officer now at the center of the controversy surrounding the death of George Floyd.
Klobuchar, who served as the chief legal officer of Hennepin County, Minnesota, before ascending to the United States Senate, declined to charge Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for his role in the shooting death of Wayne Reyes in October 2006.
Reyes allegedly “stabbed his girlfriend and a male friend,” before fleeing in his vehicle and setting off a chase by law enforcement, according to a report on police brutality from the Minneapolis-based Communities United Against Police Brutality.
Chauvin, who at the time had been on the Minneapolis police force since 1999, was one of six officers involved in the pursuit. When Reyes was eventually stopped, Chauvin and the other officers claimed he aimed a shotgun towards them in a threatening manner. Reyes’s alleged burnishing of the weapon resulted in all six officers opening fire and killing him.
The incident, which was reported by The Guardian on Thursday, elicited widespread concern among Minneapolis residents at the time of Reyes’s death for what was seen as too strong a use of force. As such, Klobuchar, who was running for the U.S. Senate at the time of the shooting, was pressured by the local black community in Minneapolis to prosecute the officers involved.
In the weeks following the shooting, however, Klobuchar declined to act on the matter. Instead, having won her Senate race, she spent the remaining three months of her tenure between November 2006 and January 2007 planning for her transition to Washington, DC. The case eventually went to a grand jury in 2008, which opted not to charge the officers with any wrongdoing for their conduct.
Chauvin would continue to serve on the Minneapolis police force for the next decade and a half. It would not, though, be his last brush with controversy. In 2011, Chauvin would be placed on temporary leave after he and four other officers shot a Native American man, who was later charged with felony second-degree assault. Overall, Chauvin would face at least ten civilian complaints throughout his tenure with the force. Three of those, which arose because of his use of “derogatory language” and “demeaning tone” towards suspects, would result in oral reprimands.
His career officially came to an end earlier this week when he was fired for his involvement in Floyd’s death. The firing came after a video went viral showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck while attempting to arrest the man for alleged forgery. In the video, Floyd is heard pleading for help, claiming he cannot breathe, as Chauvin stands over him. Tou Thao, Chauvin’s partner who also has a record of police brutality complaints, is seen in the video refusing to intervene.
Since the video went viral, protests have arisen across Minnesota and other parts of the country from activists hoping to shine a light on what they see as the failures and inequities of the criminal justice system. Although most of the protests have been non-violent, several riots broke out in Minneapolis and neighboring Saint Paul on Wednesday and Thursday.
The attention drawn by both the protests and the riots has brought Klobuchar’s 2006 decision to not prosecute Chauvin back into the spotlight. Such scrutiny, however, comes at an inopportune moment for the senator, who leads the short-list to be former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate this November.
Even though Klobuchar was always going to face criticism for the law and order image she cultivated as a county prosecutor, the current situation in Minnesota disqualifies her in the eyes of many black Democrats and activists. The sentiment was perhaps best summed up by Sunny Hostin during an episode of ABC’s The View on Wednesday.
“We’re seeing that black people in Minneapolis are arrested at nine times the rate of a white person for nonviolent offenses,” Hostin said. She added “that this is why the black community has said that Amy Klobuchar is a nonstarter for them, because … she declined to prosecute over two dozen cases involving police killings of unarmed people.”
Thousands of not-yet public documents from Joe Biden’s nearly 40-year congressional career may hold the key to the sexual assault allegation being leveled against the former vice president.
Late last month, Tara Reade, who came forward in April 2019 to accuse the former vice president of unwanted touching and sexual harassment, revealed there was more to her story. Reade now claims he pushed her up against a wall and forcibly penetrated her with his fingers, while she was briefly employed by his Senate office in the early 1990s.
The purported assault, which Reade claims took place either in the U.S. Capitol or the Russell Senate Office Building in 1993, has been vehemently denied by the former vice president’s campaign. The denial has been echoed by Biden allies, including onetime members of his Senate staff.
Some, like Ted Kaufman, who was Biden’s Senate chief of staff when the incident allegedly took place, denies that Reade ever mentioned sexual harassment.
“She did not come to me,” Kaufman said recently. “I would have remembered her if she had, and I don’t remember her at all.”
Reade, however, contends that there is official documentation to back up her timeline of events. Not only does she claim to have raised accusations of sexual harassment while on Biden’s staff, but she also filed written report with the Senate personnel office laying out the supposed misconduct.
To date, Reade has not been able to obtain a copy of the personnel report. She claims her inability stems from the fact that Biden’s Senate papers were donated to the University of Delaware in 2011. Those papers now present perhaps the best and clearest record of what really transpired, given the differing recollections between Reade and members of Biden’s camp.
The only problem is that the documents are unlikely to become public any time soon. The documents, which fill 1,875 boxes and include 415 gigabytes of electronic records, were to be made public on Dec. 31, 2019, according to an agreement the former vice president entered into with the University of Delaware upon donating his papers.
Those parameters, though, were changed on April 24, 2019—the day before Biden declared his 2020 campaign—when the university announced the trove of documents would now be made public on Dec. 31 or “two years” after the former vice president “retires from public life.” At the time, the university provided no definition for what it considered “public life,” leaving open the final date for release.
Among the documents are “committee reports, drafts of legislation,” and official correspondance. It is uncertain if documents pertaining to personnel issues or employment complaints would be among the papers. The secretary of the Senate did not respond to a request for clarification about private versus public employment documents by press time.
Even without such information, it is likely that any internal correspondance regarding Reade or her allegations by Biden’s Senate staff would be included. This is especially likely given Reade’s claims of having discussed her accusations with superiors and the hasty nature in which she left her position after the alleged assault took place.
It is unclear if the former vice president will opt to make his papers or at least those relating to Reade public. Requests for comment by the Biden campaign were not returned before press time.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) proposal to vote on formalizing procedures for the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has splintered members of her own caucus.
Earlier this week, Pelosi and the rest of the House leadership announced they would hold a vote on Thursday—Halloween—to establish procedures governing the ongoing impeachment probe. The Speaker, who for weeks had argued the House had no constitutional requirement to vote on authorizing an impeachment inquiry, relented after coming under fire for keeping the process in the shadows.
The decision, though, has engendered criticism from the 31 freshman and moderate Democrats representing districts that Trump won in 2016. Some, like freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), have signaled they will not vote for the resolution on the grounds that impeachment would “not be good for Democrats or Republicans.”
Van Drew, who represents a district in southern New Jersey that, prior to 2016, had not voted Republican at the presidential level since before the 1980s, even suggested the vote could backfire on the House majority.
Van Drew told Politico on Wednesday, before adding the GOP was clamoring for such a vote:
I didn’t know that it was really necessary at this point. So if they very much want it, it would mean they want to help us a whole lot and really think it’s a good idea, or they think that it was going to put us in a tight spot.
The congressman’s office did not respond to questions for this story.
Although Van Drew was the first to announce his opposition, at least two more vulnerable Democrats— Reps. Colin Peterson (D-MN) and Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)—have expressed unease with the strategy House leadership is utilizing ahead of the vote.
Peteron’s office confirmed to Breitbart News that the congressman has not indicated how he will be voting on Thursday. The Minnesota Democrat, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, has suggested in recent weeks that he opposes “a partisan impeachment” process.
A spokeswoman for Peterson told Breitbart News, “As of now, Rep. Peterson has not indicated how he will vote on Thursday.”
She pointed to a statement he made in September that expressed doubt over impeachment: “Without significant bipartisan support, impeachment proceedings will be a lengthy and divisive action with no resolution.”
Brindisi, on the other hand, did not respond to requests for comment from Breitbart News. The congressman did, however, openly discuss his doubts about the timing of the resolution and the overall process in which it was crafted with Politico on Wednesday.
“It looks like things are moving quicker than a lot of people had anticipated,” the New York Democrat told the outlet. “For me, I’m in no rush here.”
Brindisi, who ousted former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) last year in an expensive race that was decided only after a recount, is already a top GOP target in 2020.
Apart from Peterson, the 30 other House Democrats representing districts that Trump carried in 2016 did not respond to requests from Breitbart News about how they would be voting on Thursday. Prior to this week, at least twenty had indicated they were fully supportive of the impeachment inquiry.
The fact that Pelosi and the Democrat leadership are having serious difficulties keeping their members in line does not bode well for the impeachment inquiry. Compounding problems is that Republicans have become more emboldened and unified against the impeachment inquiry and the forthcoming vote on Thursday.
Republicans, in particular, have been buoyed by polling showing only 36 percent of the American public believe the House should vote to impeach Trump. There is also increasing skepticism from even GOP moderates about the way Pelosi and the Democrat leadership are breaking House precedent in their push towards impeachment.
Most pointedly, the resolution being voted on Thursday gives extraordinary powers to the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who has been accused of abusing the powers of his committee to promote the impeachment agenda. The resolution also limits the ability of House Republicans to properly conduct their own impeachment reviews by curtailing minority subpoena power.
Such heavy-handed tactics by Pelosi and the Democrat leadership have removed any hopes the impeachment inquiry would be bipartisan. While it’s still not final, several GOP sources on Capitol Hill told Breitbart News they expect the minority to unite against the resolution on the floor Thursday. If that happens, the veneer of bipartisan respectability that Pelosi and her leadership team have attempted to stage around the impeachment inquiry would be shredded and the entire proceeding would be seen as a partisan affair.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made such an argument during an appearance on Fox News Wednesday. The Republican leader claimed that Pelosi had proven the impeachment inquiry “process is a sham” by flip-flopping on whether to hold a vote on the procedures governing the probe.
McCarthy detailed during the interview how the move towards impeachment has divided and even radicalized some freshman Democrats from swing districts. When making his case, the House Republican leader cited Rep. Max Rose (D-NY)—a first-term Democrat who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, New York — in October said that Trump should be given the chance to “prove his innocence.”
“I do not want to be here. This is the last thing I want to be doing,” Rose said at the time. “But no one is to blame but the president. The president says he is innocent, so all we are saying is ‘prove it.’ But that is not what they are doing. They are not cooperating, and we need to get to the bottom of it.”
Rose was one of the 30 House Democrats that declined to elaborate on their support for the impeachment procedure resolution when reached out to by Breitbart News.
McCarthy said Wednesday that Rose’s comments serve as a symbolic sign of how freshman Democrats face an ever-increasing pressure to back impeachment, despite the potential damage it might have for their House majority.
“It only takes 19 seats to win the majority, they have 31 Democrats sitting in seats that President Trump carried, and we’re going to carry those again,” the minority leader said.
To be sure, though, not every single freshman Democrat is taking the safe route, like Rose. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), who initially resisted calls for Trump’s impeachment during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, reversed course in October, announcing he now supported the idea.
“We can’t overlook what has actually happened in terms of the president’s abuse of power,” Kim told constituents at a recent town hall in his New Jersey district.
Still, however, the fact that there are such divergent opinions on the impeachment inquiry within the House majority is cause for concern among leadership. That’s partially why, earlier in the week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — Pelosi’s number two — has begun downplaying the seriousness and gravity of the vote.
“We’re going to have to consider whether or not it’s ready to go on Thursday. I hope that’s the case,” the majority leader told reporters on Tuesday when asked about the planned vote.
Joe Biden pledged to eliminate all of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts when campaigning in Iowa over the weekend.
Biden, who has made no effort to hide his ambition to raise taxes if elected in 2020, told a crowd in the Hawkeye State that by eliminating the tax cuts Trump passed during his first year in office, the country could spend more on healthcare and other items. The former vice president, however, did not just promise to roll back some of the cuts for the wealthy, like his other 2020 competitors, but he pledged to “eliminate” all of them.
“By eliminating just a few of the tax cuts, I’m going to eliminate mostly – all of them,” Biden said. “But a few of the tax cuts, we – you think I’m joking, but I’m not.”
“If you know anything about me and taxes,” he added.
The stance might not be all that popular for Biden, especially as he pitches himself as the only Democrat capable of winning back working class and middle class voters. As the conservative-leaning Americans for Tax reform has noted, a single parent taking care of one child on an annual income of $41,000 received a tax cut of more than $1,300 because of Trump’s tax package.
Similar results have been seen in states that Biden claims he can win in 2020. In Pennsylvania, which voted Republican for the first time since 1988 last election, households making the average state income received a tax cut of more than $1,400, according to the Tax Foundation. Households in Wisconsin and Michigan, which also hadn’t voted Republican for decades until Trump, received tax cuts in the same range.
Since announcing his presidential campaign, Biden has repeatedly attempted to paint Trump’s tax cuts as only benefiting the super wealthy.
“Look, Donald Trump has put in a horrible situation, we do have enormous income inequality,” Biden said at the first Democrat presidential debate in June. “The one thing I agree on is we can make massive cuts in the $1.6 trillion dollars in tax loopholes out there, and I would be going about eliminating Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy.”
The claim, though, was largely debunked, even by liberal outlets like The Washington Post, which found the average family making between $50,000 and $75,000 annually got a tax cut of around $1,000.