The latest round of opposing claims to reality regarding the Biden impeachment inquiry played out in front of the cameras on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning (29 November) as both Republicans and Democrats reacted to Hunter Biden’s acceptance of an offer to testify before the House Oversight Committee.
The president’s son called the bluff of House Republicans by agreeing to appear before the panel on 13 December at the invitation of committee Chair James Comer.
Earlier this month, Mr Comer issued subpoenas compelling testimony from Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden, as part of a long-running probe into President Joe Biden’s family — an investigation which has thus far produced no evidence that the 46th president violated any laws or was improperly influenced by any family member’s business interests. Mr Biden’s team has issued their own subpoenas.
The younger Mr Biden’s response, delivered via his lawyer this week, forced Republicans to quickly backtrack and insist that it was important to first have a closed-door deposition from the younger Mr Biden.
Each side took to morning cable news shows to argue their case before each party held their weekly congressional press conference to further push their point.
This all culminated in California Democratic Rep and House Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar mocking the whole impeachment inquiry as yet another Republican attempt to make former president Donald Trump happy.
Circling back to an anecdote in former Rep Liz Cheney’s new book that got wide coverage on Tuesday evening, Mr Aguilar compared the party’s need to placate the former president with the time former Speaker Kevin McCarthy allegedly flew down to Mar-a-Lago to visit a depressed Mr Trump who had stopped eating after the January 6 Capitol riot.
The day started with Republican Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik’s appearance on Maria Bartiromo’s show on Fox Business Network, during which she argued ââthat “in an open public hearing, you see the Democrats turn this into a charade” and thorough questioning with follow-ups could only take place behind closed doors.
Elise Stefanik defends Comer: "Maria, in an open public hearing, you see the Democrats turn this into a charade." pic.twitter.com/mfcZqjZvEJ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 29, 2023
Over on MSNBC, Democrat reps and Oversight Committee members Daniel Goldman and Jared Moskowitz explained that if Mr Comer had a shred of evidence against the president and his son, they would be more than willing to show it to the public.
First Rep Goldman noted: “They don’t want the American people to see what Hunter Biden has to say because they know that it will be the final nail in the coffin to this pathetic failed investigation.”
Morning Joe’s Willie Geist chuckled when Rep Moskowitz told him: “If they had overwhelming evidence on Hunter Biden, rest assured that Chairman Clouseau [Comer] would have a public hearing with every media imaginable … the reason they don’t want that to happen is that they don’t have the evidence.”
If Chairman Comer had a shred of evidence against Hunter Biden, he’d be BEGGING to have a public hearing.
But he doesn’t. He wants to keep testimony behind closed doors so he can just keep reciting his conspiracy theories to his echo chamber. pic.twitter.com/oBRvLbtM7F
— Congressman Jared Moskowitz (@RepMoskowitz) November 29, 2023
As the morning progressed, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson spoke at a press conference with the leaders of the probe into the Bidens and expressed caution about moving to a vote for impeachment given the narrow majority of just nine seats they hold in the lower chamber of Congress.
The speaker knows that such a vote to impeach President Biden would be a huge political risk for moderate Republicans in swing districts and could lead to the party losing its majority in the House in 2024. Many in that category have panned the evidence so far as not meeting the bar of “high crimes and misdemeanours” as laid out in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment.
Nevertheless, Mr Johnson described the evidence already uncovered by Republican chairmen as “alarming”, adding: “While we take no pleasure in the proceedings here, we have a responsibility to do it.”
The speaker recently travelled to Mar-a-Lago to meet with former president Trump who has been pushing for his allies in Congress for months to impeach President Biden in retribution for Democrats’ two impeachments of him while he was in office.
They're saying Joe Biden got a Ukrainian prosecutor fired in order to benefit his son.
State Dept officials testified in 2019 and 2020 that firing the prosecutor was THEIR policy, not Biden's.
So I asked: Did they commit perjury? Will you bring them back for more questions? https://t.co/Dm4IXaMILH
— Arthur Delaney 🇺🇸 (@ArthurDelaneyHP) November 29, 2023
When questioned about the very basis of the impeachment inquiry into the Bidens’ alleged dealings in Ukraine, no direct answer was given and the press conference ended with a list of prepared bullet points.
Rounding out the morning on Capitol Hill, it was time for Rep Aguilar to comment. House Democrats have been unified in their opposition, claiming that the inquiry is an effort to detract attention from Mr Trump’s legal challenges and turn a negative spotlight on President Biden by going after his family — specifically his son’s business dealings, of which the White House insists the president had no involvement.
“This is yet another attempt to make [Trump] happy … whether it’s going down to Mar-a-Lago to make sure that he’s being fed, apparently, to voting on impeachment.”
— House Dems Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar on Biden impeachment inquiry pic.twitter.com/MQSxYpGxR4
— The Recount (@therecount) November 29, 2023
Said Mr Aguilar of his colleagues across the aisle: “I think our question is: impeach who? And impeach for what? This is, again — censures, expulsions, impeachments — this is just what they are concerned about within their conference, this is what keeps them together. This is what binds them together. It isn’t an agenda they are for, it is a person they are against.”
“They are carrying President Trump’s water here, as they have done time and time again, from the certification of the election to now, Donald Trump is the leader of their party, and this is yet another attempt to make him happy, to bring him joy, whether its going down to Mar-a-Lago to make sure he’s being fed apparently, to voting on impeachment. This is just fundamentally who they are.”
In her new memoir — Oath and Honor — former Rep Cheney accuses her fellow Republicans of “cowardice” and “craven” behaviour in going along with Mr Trump’s claims of a stolen election despite knowing they were nonsense.