President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in Johns Island, South Carolina last August. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – A Department of Justice lawyer told a federal court in Colorado on Monday that the DOJ was “not trying to hide the ball” in its response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents dealing with Hunter Biden’s business activities in China, Russia, and Ukraine.
“That is exactly what they are doing,” Colorado attorney Kevin Evans, the plaintiff in the case along with the firm Evans Law, told CNSNews.com in an email after the hearing in Denver.
Confirming a comment he made in an interview outside the courthouse, he said, “I think there’s information in those documents that they just don’t want to see the light of day.”
Evans is suing the DOJ over its response to his FOIA request, lodged in late 2020, for records relating to the business dealings in China, Russia, and Ukraine of President Biden’s son, as well as the president’s brother, James Biden.
He says months-long attempts to get information from the DOJ garnered him nothing more substantive than letters between lawmakers and the department, and a Senate report.
Evans filed suit in March last year. In court last May, a DOJ representative said the search was complete, and that the department had found 400 pages of documents “potentially responsive” to the FOIA request, which were undergoing review.
Two months later, however, the DOJ, in a letter to the plaintiffs, said it “refuse[s] to confirm or deny the existence of such records” (that is, the 400 pages), according to documents before the court.
Evans has argued that there is “significant public interest” in the records he is seeking – material relating to Hunter and James Biden, “pertaining to any relationship, communication, gift(s), and/or remuneration in any form with, to or from any individual or entity (government agency or otherwise) from the countries of China, Russia, and/or Ukraine.”
He made the point again in a status report submitted for Monday’s hearing:
Then Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden with his brother, James Biden, during the 2008 presidential election campaign. (Photo by Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images)
“Plaintiffs submit that there is a significant public interest in such records: e.g., concerns regarding national security, influence peddling, and whether such favors and gifts were provided in exchange for an illicit quid pro quo.”
Documents before the court show that the DOJ sought to justify its “refusal to confirm or deny” stance on the basis of two exemptions in the FOIA, relating to “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
On Monday, Evans argued for “limited discovery.” He is proposing that the DOJ answer a list of specific questions, including stating whether any of the 400 pages of “potentially responsive” documents have been disclosed – by the DOJ or anyone else – to anyone other than a DOJ employee, and in each case when, to whom, and why.
The DOJ wants to proceed to summary judgment without discovery. The parties will now submit status reports and file documents related to the department’s motion for summary judgment.
Evans afterwards highlighted as one key takeaway from the hearing an observation by the presiding judge that the DOJ could not plausibly deny the existence of the roughly 400 pages of “potentially relevant” documents, given what the DOJ had already said in court.
Evans also noted the comment by DOJ counsel Alexander Sverdlov to the effect that “We’re not trying to hide the ball.”
“That is exactly what they are doing,” Evans charged.
Among investigations planned by the Republican-controlled House this year, the House Oversight and Reform Committee is looking into “the Biden family’s domestic and international business dealings to determine whether these activities compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality.”
“The Biden family business model is built on Joe Biden’s political career and connections with Joe Biden as the ‘chairman of the board,’” committee chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) said in a statement on its website.
“Biden family members sold access for profit around the world to the detriment of American interests. If President Biden is compromised by deals with foreign adversaries and they are impacting his decision making, this is a threat to national security,” Comer said. “The American people deserve transparency and accountability about the Biden family’s influence peddling.”
Comer is also seeking documents relating to Hunter and James Biden’s business activities from various agencies, including the U.S. Treasury Department, FBI, and the National Archives.