By Zachary Stieber
The House of Representatives issued fresh subpoenas on Nov. 9 as it widens its probe of the finances of President Joe Biden and his family.
The House Oversight Committee subpoenaed four people, including George Bergès, who deals the art created by Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
The pieces were reportedly bought by people including Democrat donors, raising ethics concerns.
The panel is also commanding Eric Schwerin and Mervyn Yan, former business associates of Mr. Biden’s, and investor Elizabeth Naftali to appear and answer questions.
The fresh subpoenas come a day after Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the committee, signed off on subpoenas for Mr. Biden, the president’s brother, and another former business associate of the family.
“The House Oversight Committee is leaving no stone unturned as we investigate President Joe Biden’s central role in his family’s domestic and international business dealings,” Mr. Comer said in a statement.
Evidence and testimony acquired by the panel so far “show the Bidens and their business partners sold access to the highest levels of our government, including Joe Biden himself, to the detriment of America’s interests,” he added.
Mr. Bergès, Mr. Schwerin, and Ms. Naftali didn’t immediately respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment. Mr. Yan couldn’t be reached.
Mr. Biden’s lawyer didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment.
The subpoenas indicate that Mr. Biden’s former associates could help Republicans as they probe the Biden family’s network of companies, which conducted business with nationals of China, Russia, and other countries during President Biden’s time as vice president.
The panel has already received records and testimony from banks and Devon Archer, a former family associate who testified that President Biden would regularly join business meetings by phone, although Mr. Archer stressed that no business was discussed when the elder Biden was participating.
The panel recently found two checks labeled as loan repayments from James Biden, the president’s brother, to President Biden that Republicans allege were funded by money from China and a failing rural hospital operator.
According to court documents, Mr. James Biden received 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.”
Paul Fishman, a lawyer for Mr. James Biden, told The Epoch Times in an email that the payments were for loans his client received.
“There is nothing more to those transactions, and there is nothing wrong with them. And Jim Biden has never involved his brother in his business dealings,” Mr. Fishman said.
The White House has offered a similar position, as has Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee.
Mr. Comer said he hasn’t seen evidence that support the claims.
“The inescapable reality for Joe Biden is that whether the $240,000 were loan repayments or not, it clearly came from funds generated by his family’s influence peddling and proves one of the ways he personally benefited from this unethical conduct,” a spokesperson for the congressman said.
Ms. Naftali, meanwhile, was named by Business Insider, based on gallery documents, as one of the buyers of Mr. Hunter Biden’s art.
Ms. Naftali, who donated to President Biden’s campaign and to other Democrats, was appointed to a commission eight months after Mr. Hunter Biden’s first showing.
“Hunter Biden is a private citizen who is entitled to have his own career as an artist,” Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson, said at the time. “We are not involved in his art sales, and any buyers of his art are not disclosed to the White House.”
The White House had said that neither it nor Mr. Hunter Biden would know the identity of the people who bought his artwork.
Bruce Weinstein, an ethics trainer, told Insider that the timing of the purchase was important.
“If it was done after her appointment, and she likes the painting, it’s less of an issue,” he said. “It’s more of an issue if she’s deciding to buy it beforehand. Then it might be perceived as a quid pro quo.”
Abbe Lowell, a lawyer representing Mr. Hunter Biden, confirmed that Ms. Naftali was one of the buyers.
“The gallery sets the pricing and handles all sales based on the highest ethical standards of the industry, and does not disclose the names of any purchasers to Mr. Biden,” Mr. Lowell said.
Mr. Bergès has said that the names of buyers were kept confidential and claimed that attempts to unmask them were illegal.
Danielle Brian, executive director at the Project On Government Oversight, has told The Epoch Times that the arrangement was “really a self-enforced blind trust that is outsourced to an art dealer” and that the White House “should have required complete transparency so that they, and all of us, could be assured the buyers do not get preferential treatment.”
Mr. Bergès was previously asked for information on the sales by Mr. Comer, who said that the arrangement between the gallery and the president’s son “raises serious ethics concerns and calls into question whether the Biden family is again selling access and influence.” He referenced a report that said some of the pieces could sell for as much as $500,000.
“It is concerning that President Biden’s son is the recipient of anonymous, high-dollar transactions—potentially from foreign buyers—with no accountability or oversight other than you,” Mr. Comer added. “The American people deserve transparency regarding certain details about Hunter Biden’s expensive art transactions.”