The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability meets today, and chairman James Comer of Kentucky is looking into Biden family finances to see if they’ve been compromised, particularly by foreign ties. Part of that is finding out who is buying Hunter Biden’s “art” for up to a reported $500,000 a pop. The committee requested this information on January 25.
But William Pittard, an attorney for art dealer Georges Berges, says Berges has “concerns” about complying with the committee’s demands for sales records. So far, they’re refusing.
As reported by the NEW YORK POST, Pittard’s letter to the committee says that providing information about these “anonymous” buyers would violate White House rules that were set up specifically to deal with the sale of Hunter’s artwork. Recall that this plan was purportedly set up to prevent undue influence, as no one, not even Hunter, was supposed to know the identity of the buyers. But only the most naive among us would think a buyer couldn’t still find a way to communicate with Hunter about his or her purchases and that Hunter could go on to tell anyone he wanted to. In fact, when viewed in this light, it seemed like the perfect plan for HIDING undue influence.
In other words, it was ridiculous on its face. But they still maintain it was done for honesty’s sake.
“Providing the documents and information you requested in your letter seemingly would defeat the efforts of Mr. Biden and the White House to avoid the ‘serious ethics concerns’ you mention,” Pittard writes.
He also points to a 2020 Supreme Court decision that said congressional committees couldn’t seek “documents revealing transactions by the President [Trump] and his family.” But that was because the subpoenas for family financial records were considered too broad, as in, fishing expedition. (This was the same decision that allowed a New York grand jury to subpoena Trump’s tax returns and financial records.) As I’ve often said, my staff and I are not attorneys, but this request concerning payment for Hunter’s art seems quite specific.
Hunter’s paintings are priced between $75,000 and $500,000. At a Hollywood art show in 2021, a group of five of his prints went for at least $375,000. It’s clear that no one would be paying anything close to these prices for Hunter’s artwork if it weren’t HUNTER’S artwork. This dealer says he has confidentiality contracts with the buyers, but it’s hard to see how these could supersede a congressional subpoena issued during an investigation. The harder Berges and his lawyer try to hide this information from the committee, the more suspicious it’s going to look for Hunter --- and the White House.
Also in the POST, Miranda Devine reports that Brian Della Rocca, attorney for John Paul Mac Isaac, the computer shop owner who turned over information from Hunter’s abandoned laptop to the FBI (and later to Rudy Giuliani after the FBI did nothing), is hitting back at Hunter’s attorney Abbe Lowell, who threatened Mac Isaac legally last week.
“In letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland and his Delaware counterpart Kathy Jennings,” she says, “Mac Isaac’s attorneys allege that [Lowell] potentially violated federal and state laws by ‘knowingly using false information to report an alleged crime and allowing that information to be disseminated to the media’ when he alleged that Mac Isaac had ‘unlawfully accessed’ and disseminated the contents of Hunter’s laptop.”
Della Rocca took particular exception to the “unlawfully accessed” claim, as Hunter had legally lost possession of the laptop after not returning for it within 90 days. It’s right there on the claim slip that Hunter signed when he left the laptop at the shop.
Della Rocca argues that after seeing evidence of numerous potential crimes on the laptop, Mac Isaac did the right thing by turning this over to the FBI. He also did the right thing, after seeing during the impeachment hearings that there was no mention of the laptop --- when it would have been exculpatory for President Trump --- by approaching Trump attorney Giuliani with that evidence.
Much more detail at the link, including the actual letter from Della Rocca.
The new House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government also meets this week, on Thursday at noon Eastern, and Jonathan Turley has a great, must-read column about this, specifically the FBI operation to monitor and censor social media content as revealed by the “Twitter Files.” This was, as he points out, “censorship by surrogate,” using private agents to do what government isn’t constitutionally allowed to do. “Just as a police officer cannot direct a security guard to break into an apartment and conduct a search,” he explains, “the FBI cannot use Twitter to censor Americans.”
This new subcommittee is chaired by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who also chairs the House Judiciary Committee. One of their major areas of interest: the censoring of the Hunter Biden laptop story leading into the 2020 election. But there’s much more, because, let’s face it, there’s been a lot of weaponization. FOX NEWS has a good preview.
Finally, speaking of the Twitter Files, Twitter CEO Elon Musk has commented on Matt Taibbi’s exposure of the State Department’s “Global Engagement Center” for pressuring Twitter to moderate content. (If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, you know about this.) Of course, the FBI and a variety of government agencies were involved in this, but Musk called the GEC an “obscure agency” but “the worst offender in U.S. government censorship and media manipulation.” Given what we know about the FBI, that’s saying a lot.
He called the agency “a threat to democracy” and linked to Taibbi’s thread.
GEC was big on going straight to the media with allegations of “Russian disinformation” against content that had not come from Russia. (Recall the “Hamilton 68” dashboard that was being used to fraudulently identify Russian bots.) For example, when COVID first broke out, this agency went to the media with a report called “Russian Disinformation Apparatus Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Concerns.”
It was fake. The criteria they used were actually to censor ideas such as “it’s the fault of research conducted at the Wuhan Institute,” which is now generally regarded as true. If the GEC didn’t approve of what they read, well, it had to be coming from the Russians. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
You’ll recall if you read this newsletter that even Twitter’s Yoel Roth was concerned about the GEC. He thought the FBI and DHS were “apolitical,” though it’s hard to know how he possibly could have had that impression. It must have been only in comparison to the GEC, which they thought WAS political. One Defense Department official said he thought they meant they considered the FBI to be “less Trumpy.”
Musk’s tweeted comments and Taibbi’s thread, which includes revealing documents from the GEC, are at the link below. If you scroll down all the way to the end, you’ll be rewarded with several paragraphs of spot-on commentary, very much in line with Jonathan Turley on the First Amendment.