GOP Impeachment Witness Sues Ex-Trump Aide for Defamation

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Hunter Biden’s former business partner, whose claims of wrongdoing by the first son and his father have largely fallen apart under scrutiny, filed a $10 million federal lawsuit on Monday over accusations he was “involved with some sort of shady business dealing.”

The suit brought by Tony Bobulinski, the House GOP’s “star witness” in its ongoing and thus far, unsuccessful attempt at connecting President Joe Biden to Hunter’s overseas deals, alleges former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson defamed him in her bombshell memoir, Enough.

In the lawsuit, Bobulinski—who has close ties to a particularly unsavory Russian oligarch presently on a U.S. blacklist—dubs himself “a decorated Navy veteran who put his country above politics,” and contends he is being treated unfairly “[b]ecause [he] did not pledge blind loyalty to the Democrat Party and to the Biden family.” But in describing Hutchinson as a liar, Bobulinski cites a trio of far-right conspiracy theorists, one of whom was banned from Twitter and Facebook for spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election, as “proof” of his assertions.

Bobulinski’s defamation lawsuit against Hutchinson, which he threatened last month to file, opens with a rundown of his U.S. Navy service, after which it lays out a timeline for his partnership with Hunter Biden. It says Bobulinski met Joe Biden in 2017, and that Hunter Biden subsequently asked Bobulinski to serve as CEO of SinoHawk Holdings, an investment partnership formed with a Chinese government-affiliated energy conglomerate.

Bobulinski’s suit goes on to allege that leaked emails “eventually raised questions about whether Hunter Biden was profiting off his father’s name when he was Vice President of the United States.”

“The emails showed that Joe Biden was aware of Hunter’s business dealings with foreign nations and even personally benefited from them,” the lawsuit states. “They contradicted Joe Biden’s several prior assertions that he had no involvement with his son’s business dealings.”

However, this claim was later deemed false by Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, both of which are conservative outlets.

From here, Bobulinski’s suit states that in October 2020, he was then-President Trump’s personal guest at the presidential debate. The following month, Bobulinski’s suit says he “attended one of President Trump [sic] campaign rallies in Rome, Georgia, and briefly met with Mark Meadows, President Trump’s Chief of Staff, during the rally.”

This interaction with Meadows is key to Bobulinski’s defamation claim, alleging in his suit that following Hutchinson’s testimony before the Jan. 6 Committee, she “turned her attention and malignancy towards Mr. Bobulinski by lying about his interactions with Mark Meadows.”

He takes particular exception to a specific passage in Hutchinson’s book, which was published in September 2023, saying that during the exchange, Meadows handed Bobulinski “what appeared to be a folded sheet of paper or a small envelope.” Hutchinson observed the two men huddling, with Bobulinski covering his face with a ski mask, “through a gap in the vehicles,” she wrote. Meadows had asked Hutchinson to locate Bobulinski, then “work with [the] Secret Service to find a hidden spot,” according to Hutchinson’s book.

“This is really stupid of you, Mark,” Hutchinson said she told Meadows. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s really stupid.”

According to Bobulinski’s lawsuit, nothing “nefarious” was going on, and the face-to-face was simply “an exchange of pleasantries.” It says Bobulinski had become the target of death threats, and that Meadows “asked to meet with him for the sole purpose of checking on his and his family’s health and safety due to the ongoing threats against them.”

A snippet from Tony Bobulinski’s lawsuit against Cassidy Hutchinson.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Bobulinski insists in the suit that, under oath last month before the Jan. 6 Committee, he “unequivocally rejected” the notion he was wearing a ski mask during the meeting with Meadows. He further complains about being mocked on social media about the mask, embedding a photo of himself in his dress whites, “an actual photo of Plaintiff, a decorated Navy veteran,” to distinguish himself from a meme-ified cartoon showing a masked man smoking a cigarette.

“The defamatory statement has directly and proximately caused Mr. Bobulinski to suffer significant damages, including direct damages, damages to his reputation, humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish, anxiety, and fear for his safety and the safety of his family members, all of which are ongoing in nature and will be suffered in the future,” the lawsuit states.

In the wake of Bobulinkski’s Jan. 6 testimony, Hutchinson responded to Bobulinski’s claims by releasing a photograph, via her attorney, that appeared to show Bobulinski—in a ski mask—meeting with Meadows, at night, exactly as Hutchinson had described.

“Perhaps Mr. Bobulinski’s memory is impaired about the meeting, and a picture would help refresh his recollection,” Hutchinson’s lawyer Bill Jordan wrote in a Feb. 23 letter to Raskin. “On that November evening Ms. Hutchinson took a photo of Mr. Bobulinski meeting with Mr. Meadows from her vantage point just on the other side of the vehicle from their conversation. A copy is attached to this letter. Mr. Bobulinski may be somewhat hard to make out in this image—since he is wearing his Penn State hat…and a mask… A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it shows the truth.”

Jordan did not immediately respond on Monday to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

Bobulinski, according to a Feb. 12 letter Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) sent to House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY), is a less-than-credible witness whose “mysterious ties to the Trump campaign, his refusal to engage with the Committee’s Democratic staff, and his problematic personal finances, raise significant concerns about his truthfulness, credibility, and motivations.” He had “significant financial difficulties at the time he decided to become involved with the Trump campaign in 2020,” deeply in debt after losing a lawsuit over an unrelated investment failure, Raskin’s letter says. In 2015, Bobulinski sued his own cancer-stricken father, his stepmom, and the couple’s children’s charity, for $900,000. Robert Bobulinski died two months later.

At a Feb. 28 deposition by the House Oversight Committee, Hunter Biden said, “Tony is a bitter, bitter man that did not get in on a deal that he wanted to get in on, because I thought that he was both incompetent and an idiot.”

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