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Republicans’ Star Hunter Biden Witness Has a Very Shady Past

Tony Bobulinski is a “deadly witness,” conservatives say. But past transactions—and ties to Trump World—call his credibility into question.

Tony Bobulinski, wearing a suit, looks off camera and holds a phone in his hand.

Earlier this month, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer told Lindell TV’s Lou Dobbs Tonight that Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden, is “the one solid guy that tried to do the right thing and was honest.” Last Friday, Comer once again praised the businessman on Newsmax, calling him the only “honest guy that appears to have been temporarily in the Biden orbit.”

But Bobulinski, who testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning as part of the impeachment inquiry against the president, doesn’t appear to be as squeaky clean as Comer says. Bobulinski’s overt ties to Donald Trump—and his own shady dealings, as revealed in court records obtained by The New Republic—should cast doubt on the legitimacy of his closed-door testimony.

The nascent impeachment inquiry into the president hinges on claims that Joe Biden personally profited from his position as vice president under former President Barack Obama, via his son Hunter Biden’s business ventures in China and Ukraine—claims that the president, and many of Republicans’ own witnesses, have vehemently rejected.

In the run-up to his appearance on Tuesday, conservative political commentators from Tucker Carlson to the New York Post framed Bobulinski as a “deadly witness” and a “significantly rich” former business partner of Hunter’s who doesn’t need to be throwing himself into the spotlight for the fame or the money.

But some of Bobulinksi’s transactions, made just before he first claimed that Biden was deeply involved in his son’s international dealings, call his credibility into question, revealing a man who has chased down monetary sums of all sizes from his former business associates via legal action.

In July 2020, China Branding Group, a liquidated entertainment company, sued Bobulinski after he claimed he was entitled, per the terms of his loan agreement, to 2.5 times the original investment he made in the company between 2015 and 2016. During China Branding’s liquidation proceedings in 2017, Bobulinski presented a “proof of debt,” claiming a total entitlement of $1,765,000. Court-appointed liquidators in the Cayman Islands determined that he was only entitled to recoup his original $650,000 investment.

In 2021, the U.S. District Court in Central California ruled in favor of China Branding Group, effectively upholding a ruling that had previously come out of the Cayman Islands judicial system, siding with the company and ruling that Bobulinski had to pay the company more than $662,000, plus the costs of the suit.

Bobulinski then attempted to appeal that verdict, but he lost that bid as well, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of China Branding Group in January. The court, however, shaved off about 25 percent, ordering the businessman to pay more than $494,000, plus the cost of the lawsuit.

In 2022, under the helm of Global Investment Ventures, LLC, Bobulinski sued the owner of Kingdom Logistics, a coal-mining operation in Kentucky, for $1 million. Bobulinski alleged the company had failed to pay him three times his original $500,000 investment, which was part of a three-month equipment-buyback scheme.

In his initial complaint, Bobulinski claimed that Kingdom Logistics’ owner, Robert Stout, “fraudulently” induced the transfer of funds before hiding behind a technical defense—in this case, laws that cap annual percentage rates—which Bobulinski claimed both parties had “expressly waived.”

In a response to the complaint, Stout rejected the lawsuit, citing the doctrine of unclean hands, which states that a plaintiff is not entitled to the aid of the court if the plaintiff has done anything unethical in relation to the subject of the lawsuit. Stout’s defense also alleged fraud and deceit on Bobulinski’s part, claiming that any monetary relief to him would “constitute unjust enrichment,” according to legal filings. The case is going to trial this August.

But legal actions involving Bobulinski haven’t all been one way, with him chasing after what he believes he’s owed. In 2021, his former employer YDS Investment Company went to court after Bobulinski allegedly failed to make payments to the tune of $1.2 million for money that he borrowed from it, according to court documents that did not specify the actual amount he borrowed.

From 2016 to early 2018, the company offered Bobulinski a significant discount and a revised loan repayment schedule to ease his financial burden. After years of missed payments, YDS and Bobulinski reached one final agreement that came with a 20 percent annual fee tacked on for late payments, the highest allowed by law. When YDS charged that Bobulinski once again failed to repay that, the company took legal action, seeking more than $457,000 in damages based on breach of contract. Bobulinski never legally responded, but just one month after filing the lawsuit, in June 2021, the company requested that the case be dismissed with prejudice, hinting that a confidential settlement between the two parties had been reached.

The New Republic contacted Bobulinski’s legal team for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

And Bobulinski’s story on Biden becomes more questionable in light of his connections to the Trump campaign.

Bobulinski first raised allegations of Biden corruption in October 2020, just days away from the presidential election, as part of what The New York Times called a “desperate rescue mission” by Team Trump. The allegation was that Joe Biden profited from a Chinese oil venture with his son.

Bobulinski tried pitching the story to The Wall Street Journal, with the help of three people close to Trump: Arthur Schwartz, a New York–based P.R. professional and friend of Donald Trump Jr.; Eric Herschmann, then a Trump White House lawyer; and Stefan Passantino, a former deputy Trump White House counsel. But even the Journal wasn’t interested, due to the lack of verifiable facts.

On the eve of Trump and Biden’s final debate, Bobulinski went public with the allegations in a press conference organized by the Trump team, per The New York Times. He then attended the debate as Trump’s surprise guest.

What the Journal did publish, moments after Trump and Biden’s final debate, said that corporate documents reviewed by its reporters showed no role in the venture for Joe Biden.

In a meeting with the FBI the next day, Bobulinski asserted that he possessed text messages, emails, and other information allegedly tying Biden to his son’s business activities. But he refused the bureau total access to the information, instead passing along only a few selected documents and text messages.

After the meeting, Bobulinski and Passantino asked to be driven back to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, according to an FBI interview memorandum released by the House Ways and Means Committee.

The following week, Bobulinski reportedly held an “out of sight” meeting with Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, at a campaign rally in Rome, Georgia, according to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s book, Enough, which recalled that Bobulinski chose to wear a “ski mask” to conceal his identity during the secretive encounter, in which Meadows handed him a “folded sheet of paper or small envelope.”

“Even though I don’t know what Mark had been meeting with Bobulinski about, I could no longer ignore the suspicious activity that he, Trump, and others in the administration seemed to be engaged in,” Hutchinson wrote. “I could not shake the feeling that I had been entangled in something far more complex and secretive than I had initially realized.”

Hunter Biden has castigated Republicans’ probe as “illegitimate,” rejecting a subpoena to appear before a closed-door committee hearing in favor of a public one. “Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry, or hear what I have to say,” the president’s son said in a rare public statement in December. “What are they afraid of? I am here.”

“But I’m also here today to correct how the MAGA right has portrayed me for their political purposes,” he added, skewering Republicans for harassing his wife and children and lambasting his attempts to recover from addiction. “Let me state as clearly as I can: My father was not financially involved in my business.”

Even many Republicans have admitted that the impeachment probe, which went ahead without a floor vote and failed to produce even one witness who could say Joe Biden did anything illegal, was meritless.