Rep. Comer is the Biden impeachment inquiry's wild card
Rep. James Comer, the leader of House Republicans' impeachment inquiry into President Biden, has repeatedly exaggerated and distorted the findings of his investigation into the Biden family this year.
- Now, with the spotlight getting brighter, even some of Comer's Republican colleagues and their aides are worried about him being the public face of the inquiry — and hope he'll take a more measured approach, according to four House GOP officials familiar with the situation.
Why it matters: How Comer handles the inquiry as chair of the House Oversight Committee could be critical to whether many Americans see the impeachment probe as credible or partisan — and could go a long way toward determining how it will affect the 2024 election.
Zoom in: GOP members and aides praise Comer for uncovering fresh information about the president and his son Hunter's business interests that has contradicted Joe Biden's public statements.
- That includes sworn testimony from a business associate that Joe Biden attended a dinner with one of Hunter's Ukrainian business associates in 2015 — something Biden's campaign had denied in 2020.
- Comer has focused on ties between Hunter's international business dealings and Biden's actions as vice president, with an eye toward whether Biden used the office to enrich himself and his family.
Yes, but: The House GOP officials say Comer has at times undermined his credibility by being a sloppy communicator — especially in TV interviews during the past year in which he has overstated his committee's findings.
- Comer told Newsmax last month that the "Biden family received over $20 million from our enemies around the world."
- But two-thirds of that money actually went to Hunter Biden's business associates, not Hunter or other Biden family members, according to documents collected by Comer's committee.
In a separate Newsmax interview in August, Comer was asked about Joe Biden copying Hunter on a May 2016 email with his schedule that, among other things, included a call with the Ukrainian president and Biden's intention to travel to his home in Delaware that night.
- Comer insinuated that Hunter Biden was copied on the email to give him a heads-up that Joe Biden, then the vice president, was going to push Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who had been probing Burisma, an energy company where Hunter was on the board.
- But the email Comer cited was sent two months after the Ukrainian prosecutor had been fired.
- Comer also floated the idea that Hunter Biden owned a diamond that could have been exchanged to the Chinese for classified documents from Biden — but didn't provide any evidence for the explosive allegation.
A spokesperson for Comer declined to comment.
The intrigue: Comer's TV performances have frustrated and confused some of his GOP colleagues and their top aides, who worry that the Kentucky congressman could fuel a backlash against Republicans in the 2024 elections.
- Several GOP colleagues also believe Comer needs to be less focused on courting conservative media.
- "Comer's entire strategy has been too broad on the investigations, and too narrow on communications," one GOP leadership aide said.
- "The committee should focus on firsthand testimony and bank statements," the aide said, adding that there has been too much focus on placing exclusive stories with blaring headlines for FoxNews.com's conservative audience.
Some House Republicans aren't as convinced as Comer that Joe Biden did anything corrupt, even if they believe his son may have.
- "We certainly see what one might fairly call bribes or unfair enrichment by Hunter Biden," Rep. Darrell Issa, a former House Oversight chair, told CNN Thursday, an oft-repeated allegation among House Republicans.
- "But the actual participation by the vice president and now president — that still has to be discovered and/or nailed down, either for direct participation or knowing participation or receipt of funds."
What's next: Comer will lead the impeachment inquiry but Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, would lead any impeachment procedure that could result from the inquiry, Punchbowl News reported Wednesday.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say that Hunter Biden did not provide sworn testimony to Congress about Joe Biden attending a business dinner in 2015, and that Comer was asked about Joe Biden copying Hunter on a 2016 email, not 2015.