House Republicans have suggested that President Biden used an email alias to abuse his office and cover it up, but an initial tranche of the messages reveals banal content and personal information.
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The National Archives say that President Biden used aliases including “Robin Ware,” “Robert L. Peters” and “JRB Ware” in about 5,000 emails.
When House Republicans pressing to impeach President Biden discovered that the government had redacted emails in which he had used aliases to communicate while he was vice president, they demanded to see the full copies, alleging a cover-up of explosive evidence of wrongdoing.
Even Democrats were alarmed about the content of the correspondence, Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the chairman of the Oversight Committee, claimed in media interviews, saying they might link the president to Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.
“They fear there are many more emails sitting in the National Archives that had been redacted with Hunter Biden’s name on it,” Mr. Comer told Newsmax, “and I think you’re going to see a lot of Democrats hit the panic button when we get those emails that haven’t been redacted.”
In fact, the first 14 pages of unredacted material yielded little for Democrats to panic about. The redactions were to black out personal information — things like Mr. Biden’s 8 a.m. appointment with his personal trainer and a lunch with his grandchildren — according to people familiar with the emails turned over to the oversight panel this week by the National Archives.
The emails are only a fraction of the more than 5,000 the Archives say exist in which Mr. Biden used a series of aliases — “Robin Ware,” “Robert L. Peters” and “JRB Ware” — to communicate, and Republicans say they may yet uncover the evidence they are seeking that he abused his office. Their existence had been known for two years, but it was not until the Archives revealed that they included redactions that Mr. Comer began publicly demanding their full release.
The fresh scrutiny of the emails offers a window into the Republican playbook as they push forward with their impeachment inquiry against Mr. Biden, in which top G.O.P. lawmakers make provocative claims without concrete evidence, sowing a vague public narrative of nefarious conduct that turns out to be exaggerated — or simply false.
Both Republican and Democratic staff aides reviewed the 14 pages of documents on Thursday afternoon at a House office building. Republicans had prioritized the release of messages that mentioned Hunter Biden or Ukraine, but the few initially released appeared banal in nature. The messages, according to the people familiar with them, were originally redacted to remove personal information.
For instance, the unredacted emails contain two schedules in which the Archives blacked out Vice President Biden’s morning session with his personal trainer and a meal with his grandchildren. The message, on which Hunter Biden was among those copied, was included in the cache because Mr. Biden had a public event on his schedule that same day with a Ukrainian official.
Another email contained a message of praise for Beau Biden, the president’s late son, after he spoke in Ukraine as Delaware’s attorney general. There was also an email from after Vice President Biden visited the country of Georgia, about how women there had found him attractive, the people said.
A spokeswoman for the Republican-led committee cautioned against assuming that because there was nothing incriminating in the initial batch, a review of the rest will not turn up evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden.
“It’s silly for anyone to try to draw conclusions from 14 pages of documents that the White House cleared to give to Congress, especially when it contains an email that opines on foreign nationals thinking Joe Biden is sexy,” a statement from the committee said. “These are the emails Joe Biden wants Americans to see. The Oversight Committee will continue to follow the money and evidence to hold President Biden accountable for his abuse of public office.”
Republicans have suggested without proof that Mr. Biden used pseudonyms while he was vice president to hide his involvement in his son’s business dealings. But White House officials note that it is common practice for senior officials such as Mr. Biden and other public figures including celebrities to use alias email addresses to attempt to cut down on spam or hacking attempts.
Some of the emails sent to Mr. Biden’s pseudonymous accounts do show that Hunter Biden attempted to influence his father’s administration, including one in which he urged his father to consider a certain candidate for a job at the Treasury Department. Republicans note they have more requests for documents outstanding and eventually will have thousands of documents to review.
The National Archives’ processing of the requests from House Republicans could be interrupted if there is a government shutdown. The G.O.P. is in the throes of a bitter internal fight that appears headed toward forcing a lapse in federal funding at the end of the month, sidelining nonessential workers.
House Republicans have scheduled their first hearing on an impeachment inquiry into Mr. Biden for next week, two days before the potential shutdown.
Luke Broadwater covers Congress. He was the lead reporter on a series of investigative articles at The Baltimore Sun that won a Pulitzer Prize and a George Polk Award in 2020. More about Luke Broadwater
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