A House Republican accused the Treasury Department in a letter Wednesday of running interference for the White House in an effort to stymie efforts to investigate Hunter Biden’s finances.
Rep. James Comer, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, cited a June 13 phone call in which “Treasury officials informed Committee Republican staff that they will not provide SARs to Committee Republicans unless Democrats join the request.”
“Treasury is refusing to release suspicious activity reports connected with Hunter Biden or his family and associates—including the President,” Comer wrote in his letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Comer first requested records related to potential suspicious activity reports, known as SARs, on May 26, and gave the department a deadline of June 8. He said in his letter Wednesday that the Treasury has yet to turn over the documents. Suspicious activity reports are filed by financial institutions when clients make large cash transactions or transfers that could signal criminal activity, such as tax evasion or money laundering, although many such transactions are not improper.
A Treasury Department official said in an email to CBS News Wednesday that “Treasury provides SARs to Congress in a manner that enables robust oversight and that is consistent with how other sensitive law enforcement information is often produced.”
“It is not a political process. Since the beginning of this Administration, Treasury has made SARs available in response to authorized committee requests and continues to engage on the process with any individual members seeking information,” the official said.
The Treasury Department did not address questions sent by CBS News about Comer’s claim that the agency is requiring Democrats to join his request before it will release records related to Hunter Biden.
Comer wrote in his May letter that House Republicans are investigating Hunter Biden “and other Biden associates and family members” to determine whether their business dealings “compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality.”
Under previous administrations, members of Congress could request copies of SARs, but Comer wrote that House Republicans are also investigating why that access has been restricted. Congressional staffers can now only review those records in-person and cannot make copies.
“Committee Republicans are investigating whether this change in longstanding policy is motivated by efforts to shield Hunter Biden and potentially President Biden from scrutiny,” Comer wrote.
Comer’s May letter cited a CBS News report that more than 150 financial transactions involving the global business affairs of either Hunter Biden or the president’s brother James Biden were flagged as concerning by U.S. banks for further review. Large wire transfers were among the transactions flagged.
Comer’s May request was for all SARs generated in connection with Hunter, other members of the Biden family, and their business partners. He also requested all documents and communications related to the Biden administration’s decision to restrict Congress’ access to suspicious activity reports.
In Wednesday’s letter he also asked the Treasury Department for records that might otherwise be destroyed pertaining to Biden family finances since the president’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021.
Comer’s requests appear to provide the underpinnings for probes the committee would pursue if Republicans take control of the House following November’s elections. Comer has said the committee will investigate Hunter Biden even if a federal investigation out of the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware does not lead to charges.
A 2019 federal subpoena obtained by CBS News shows the criminal probe in Delaware has sought Hunter and James Biden’s bank records dating back to 2014, when Joe Biden was vice president.
President Biden has said he was not involved in the business dealings of his son and brother.
“I have not taken a penny from any foreign source, ever, in my life,” Mr. Biden said in October 2020 at a presidential debate.
In April, White House chief of staff Ron Klain reiterated that the president was not involved in his son’s business.
“These are actions by Hunter and his brother, they’re private matters. They don’t involve the president and they certainly are something that no one at the White House is involved in,” Klain said.