House Republicans are escalating their effort to use their oversight authority to effect political damage on President Joe Biden by issuing subpoenas to compel testimony from his son and brother and demanding testimony from a host of his other family members.
Oversight Committee Chair James Comer on Wednesday posted video to X (formerly known as Twitter) showing him signing documents which were purportedly subpoenas addressed to Mr Biden’s youngest and only surviving son, Hunter Biden, as well as his brother James Biden and a former business associate of Hunter’s called Rob Walker.
Mr Comer’s panel is also requesting that other Biden family members appear for interviews, including Hunter Biden’s wife, Melissa Cohen, the widow of his older brother Beau, Hallie Biden, Ms Biden’s sister Elizabeth Secundy and James Biden’s wife, Sara Biden.
The subpoenas are the latest gambit in a months-long probe run by Mr Comer, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith.
Both Mr Comer and Mr Jordan have spent years making allegations about President Biden and his family, who they accuse of having worked together in various illegal schemes to profit from Mr Biden’s positions as senator and vice president.
The Republican committee chairs have accused the president of bribery based on long-debunked allegations floated by disgraced former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other associates of former president Donald Trump, dating back to the first of Mr Trump’s two impeachment trials.
Yet their investigation has not surfaced any evidence of any wrongdoing by the president, even as they’ve continued to level allegations that he somehow profited from lobbying and other work undertaken by Hunter, a Yale-educated attorney and former lobbyist, and James, a longtime lobbyist and businessman.
In one recent example, Mr Comer released an image of a check written out to the president during his time as a private citizen by his brother, who added a memo line stating that the $200,000 check was meant to repay a loan.
Mr Comer has alleged that the loan repayment to the president meant that he’d benefited from James Biden’s business dealings even though there is no evidence that he profited from the loan to his brother, which was documented in bank records.
In a statement, the Kentucky Republican claimed his panel “has followed the money and built a record of evidence revealing how Joe Biden knew, was involved, and benefited from his family’s influence peddling schemes”.
“Now, the House Oversight Committee is going to bring in members of the Biden family and their associates to question them on this record of evidence,” he said.
In a statement, Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell decried the GOP move to compel testimony from his client as”yet another political stunt aimed at distracting from the glaring failure of Rep. Comer and his MAGA allies to prove a single one of their wild and now discredited conspiracies about the Biden family”.
“Nevertheless, Hunter is eager to have the opportunity, in a public forum and at the right time, to discuss these matters with the Committee,” he added.
The White House has taken pains to stress that the president’s son is a private citizen and to not speak on his behalf, but a memorandum written by White House Counsel’s Office spokesperson Ian Sams describes the Biden administration’s dim view of the House investigation.
“Despite spending millions of taxpayer dollars to conduct this probe, they have turned up no evidence to support their outlandish allegations of bribery and ‘high crimes and misdemeanours,’ which they claim are motivating their open-ended ‘impeachment inquiry,’ wrote Mr Sams, who pointed out that witnesses called by the GOP during a recent impeachment inquiry hearing stated that the panel had not assembled any evidence that would justify impeachment proceedings against Mr Biden.
He also noted that Mr Comer has repeatedly lied about his committee’s own findings on multiple occasions.
“With just over a week to go until House Republicans may again thrust the country into a harmful and chaotic government shutdown, the most extreme voices in their party like James Comer are trying to distract from their repeated failures to govern,” Mr Sams said.
“Instead of using the power of Congress to pursue a partisan political smear campaign against the President and his family, extreme House Republicans should do their jobs”.
Asked about the subpoenas during Wednesday’s daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre echoed the sentiments in Mr Sams’ memorandum.
“This is an investigation that has been going on for a year now and has turned up zero evidence of wrongdoing by the president because there is none,” she said. “But Republicans continue to double down on a baseless smear campaign against the president and his family instead of instead of being focused on the American people's needs”.