Comer Keeps Stepping In It as Impeachment Witness Dishes Dirt on Giuliani

Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Reuters
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Reuters

A public hearing held Wednesday by the House Oversight Committee as part of its rapidly disintegrating impeachment inquiry into President Biden featured a GOP insider who testified from prison, a Republican lawmaker who confused Kazakhstan and Ukraine, and the former Rudy Giuliani associate at the center of it all who said the push to discredit the president is predicated entirely on lies floated by Russian intelligence.

Committee chair Rep. James Comer (R-KY) stepped on rake after rake during the hearing, consistently undermining his own conference’s case. Star witness Lev Parnas was largely responsible for disseminating the mistruths about Biden to Republican lawmakers, working with the ex-New York City mayor-turned-Trump crony to dig up damaging dirt in advance of the 2020 presidential election. The two traveled to Ukraine for the job, and came back with eye-popping tales of corruption involving Biden and his son Hunter.

But on Wednesday, Parnas said, “The only information ever pushed on the Bidens and Ukraine has come from one source and one source only: Russia and Russian agents.”

Comer said to his Democratic colleagues at one point, “You made a mistake and said that Parnas is a Republican witness. He is very much your witness.”

To this, Parnas interjected: “I was a Republican for Donald Trump.”

Comer took potshots at Parnas, saying, “You could’ve invited [Hunter Biden’s] partners, but you invited… this guy,” to which Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) reminded Comer that Parnas was “Donald Trump’s partner.”

The testimony from Parnas upended Comer’s entire narrative, which his conference continues to peddle, nonetheless.

“When you review the entire record of evidence of these hearings going back over a year, you've actually provided more evidence to impeach Donald Trump for a third time than you have in so much as laying a glove on Joe Biden,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said.

In Raskin’s opening statement this morning, he said, “With any luck, today marks the end of perhaps the most spectacular failure in the history of Congressional investigations, the effort to find a high crime or misdemeanor committed by Joe Biden and then to impeach him for it.”

The GOP’s pursuit of a Biden impeachment is entirely “predicated on a bunch of false information that is being spread by the Kremlin,” according to Parnas’ testimony. Parnas was sentenced in 2022 to 20 months behind bars on charges of wire fraud, false statements, and campaign finance violations.

The conspiracy theories Giuliani and Parnas fed to Trump were used by the twice-impeached former president to push a false narrative that Biden, as vice president, was inappropriately pulling levers in Ukraine to protect Hunter Biden from being investigated in relation to his in-country business activities.

On Wednesday, Parnas told the committee that he cautioned Giuliani over the disreputable origin from which the Biden dirt was coming. Still, he said, Giuliani continued to accept more and more bogus information from the same unreliable sources.

“Eventually you’ve brainwashed yourself [in]to believing certain things that are not true,” Parnas said, calling the MAGA universe a “cult.” “I started thinking [to] myself that this can’t be true. And we were doing something wrong.”

Americans “have been lied to” by Trump, Giuliani, and others who “created falsehoods to serve their own interests knowing it would undermine the strength of our nation,” Parnas said in his opening statement.

In a written statement Parnas submitted to the committee, he calls himself “a concerned American citizen who loves this country, and as a man who has faced up to his own wrongdoings.” He said he was a “key participant” in efforts from November 2018 through October 2019 to prove that Joe and Hunter Biden were “linked to corruption in Ukraine.”

“Rudy Giuliani, on behalf of then-president Donald Trump, tasked me with a mission to travel the globe finding dirt on the Bidens so that an array of networks could spread misinformation about them,” the statement said. “They sought to damage the Bidens’ reputations and secure the 2020 election for Trump.”

But Parnas said on Wednesday that he never presented actual “evidence of the Bidens’ corruption in Ukraine—because there truly was none. On the contrary, by setting up a search for false criminality, every individual majorly involved in this plan was disguising their own criminal activity. That persists to this very day: The impeachment proceedings that bring us here now are predicated on a bunch of false information that is being spread by the Kremlin.”

The White House, for its part, called the hearing a “total waste of time.”

“That hearing was embarrassing for House Republicans,” Ian Sams, the White House spokesman for oversight and investigations, told The Daily Beast. “It’s time to move on from this sad charade. There are real issues the American people want us to address.”

Republican officials like then-Rep. Devin Nunes, who now works for Trump’s Truth Social Twitter clone, knew the corruption tales were “baseless,” as did Fox News personality Sean Hannity and others at the network, Parnas said. Last July, Parnas wrote to Comer, telling him there was “simply no merit to investigating this matter any further.”

Witness Jason Galanis, a onetime business partner of Hunter Biden, testified remotely from a federal prison in Alabama, where he is serving a 14-year sentence for defrauding a Native American tribe. Among his claims, which included allegations of dirty dealing by Hunter Biden, Galanis said he had been sexually assaulted behind bars, which he blamed on the government.

On Wednesday, Raskin referenced an article The Daily Beast published just a few hours earlier, detailing further unreported ties between Tony Bobulinski, another former business partner of Hunter Biden’s, and sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

Bobulinski, who testified in person, rambled expansively, accusing Democrats of lying to cover for the Bidens, earning rebukes from, among others, Raskin, who chipped away at Bobulinski’s credibility again and again.

And when Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) had his turn to speak, he presented a big map on an easel which identified Ukraine as Kazakhstan and vice-versa.

In an emailed statement provided Wednesday afternoon by Giuliani spokesman Ted Goodman, he said Parnas is “not to be trusted,” and called House Democrats “irresponsible and intellectually dishonest” for letting him testify. Goodman claimed Parnas is “desperate to generate headlines in order to sell his fledgling book,” calling him a “serial liar.”

Hunter Biden declined to appear at the hearing, his attorney, Abbe Lowell, calling it little more than a “carnival sideshow.”

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