James Biden Tells Republicans His Brother Was Not Involved in Business Deals

When a young Joe Biden embarked on his first political campaign more than 50 years ago, it was his brother Jimmy who dropped out of college and crisscrossed the country to raise money for his bid.

Months later, when Joe Biden’s wife and 13-month-old daughter were killed in a car crash, it fell to Jimmy to go to the hospital to identify their bodies.

And as Joe Biden built his political profile, it was Jimmy who took his brother’s two surviving children under his wing, forming a particularly strong bond with the younger one, Hunter, with whom he shared much in common. That relationship eventually morphed into a business partnership that would bring millions of dollars from overseas deals to both men — and has now thrust them under the scrutiny of the congressional Republicans who are bent on impeaching President Biden.

On Wednesday, James Biden, known in the family as “Uncle Jimmy,” testified to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees leading the impeachment inquiry that his business ventures were above board, that his older brother was not involved in them and never did anything wrong, and that, if anything, it was the elder Mr. Biden who helped him out financially — not the other way around.

In a 10-page opening statement obtained by The New York Times, James Biden also painted a portrait of himself as a dutiful though sometimes troubled brother who had sacrificed to support his family after it was rocked by tragedy, even as he denied allegations that he sought to leverage access to his brother to enrich himself.

“I have had a 50-year career in a variety of business ventures,” James Biden said in his opening statement during a closed-door interview in a House office building. “Joe Biden has never had any involvement or any direct or indirect financial interest in those activities. None.”

The prepared testimony gave a fuller accounting of James Biden as a pivotal figure in the president’s life, one who like his nephew Hunter has clearly benefited financially from the cache and connections that come with his politically prestigious family name, but who also sees himself as an anchor for family members who have fallen on hard times.

Hunter Biden has referred to James Biden as “my best friend in the world,” who took him in during some of the worst moments of his drug addiction. His uncle told lawmakers that he, too, once struggled with alcoholism, though he has been sober for more than 40 years.

On Wednesday, James Biden also turned one of Republicans’ central allegations against the president on its head, saying that payments he made to Joe Biden that G.O.P. lawmakers have alleged were a way to launder money from China were in fact repayments of loans that the elder Mr. Biden extended him when he was low on cash.

“They were short-term loans that I received from Joe when he was a private citizen, and I repaid them within weeks,” James Biden said. “He had no information at all about the source of the funds I used to repay him. The complete explanation is that Joe lent me money, and I repaid him as soon as I had the funds to do so.”

Mr. Biden’s testimony comes at a critical moment for the G.O.P. inquiry after a succession of witnesses undercut Republicans’ claims about President Biden’s involvement in his son’s and brother’s businesses.

At least three associates of Hunter Biden denied in recent interviews any involvement by Joe Biden in Hunter Biden’s financial deals. One, James Gilliar, said: “I am unaware of any involvement at any time of the former vice president.” Another, Eric Schwerin, who performed bookkeeping tasks for Joe Biden during his vice presidency, called the G.O.P.’s allegations “preposterous.”

“I am not aware of any financial transactions or compensation that Vice President Biden received related to business conducted by any of his family members or their associates nor any involvement by him in their businesses — none,” Mr. Schwerin said.

The G.O.P. inquiry took another blow last week when a former F.B.I. informant whose claims Republicans touted was indicted on charges of making up his claims that President Biden and his son had sought bribes from a Ukrainian energy company. The informant, Alexander Smirnov, claimed to have been fed information by Russian intelligence, according to a court filing on Tuesday.

Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, called on Republicans to drop their inquiry.

“The impeachment investigation essentially ended yesterday in substance if not in form with the explosive revelation that Mr. Smirnov’s allegations about Ukrainian Burisma payments to Joe Biden were concocted along with Russian intelligence agents,” Mr. Raskin said. “It appears like the whole thing is not only obviously false and fraudulent, but a product of Russian disinformation and propaganda.”

Mr. Raskin called the mood inside the interview room “subdued.”

“It feels to me as if everyone knows the impeachment investigation is over,” Mr. Raskin said.

Representative William R. Timmons IV, Republican of South Carolina, argued there remained “an enormous amount of circumstantial evidence that shows that Hunter and Jim are selling the brand and Joe Biden is profiting from it financially.”

“So we’re going to find out if that’s true,” Mr. Timmons said. “That’s why we’re here. And for the ranking member to say that there’s no there there, they went after President Trump for far, far less.”

Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Smirnov’s indictment “doesn’t change the fundamental facts” of Republicans’ case against Joe Biden.

Republicans have pointed to the testimony of Hunter Biden’s former associate Tony Bobulinski, who told lawmakers that “Joe Biden was ‘the brand’ being sold by the Biden family” and that Mr. Biden was “an enabler, despite being buffered by a complex scheme to maintain plausible deniability.”

Democrats counter that while Mr. Bobulinski made many allegations, he is disgruntled over being cut out of a business deal and did not back up his claims with any direct evidence against the president.