Updated Mar 20, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Shouting, accusations, a mask: GOP’s Hunter Biden hearing erupts into bickering

Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, wearing a gray suit, white shirt and red tie, sitting behind a committee dais in front of blue drapes and an American flag.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The Republican-led House Oversight Committee's marquee hearing on Hunter Biden's business dealings quickly devolved into squabbles between committee members and witnesses on Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's an increasingly familiar scene for the committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Biden as they've held numerous highly charged hearings.

  • Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) is under pressure to prove a link between the president and his son's financial activities as some Republicans increasingly doubt the likelihood of an impeachment vote due to a lack of incriminating evidence.

Driving the news: Comer kicked off the hearing by waiving a rule prohibiting members from impugning the character of the president, saying that members "must be allowed to speak frankly."

Zoom in: Tony Bobulinski, a former Hunter Biden associate who claims Biden was involved in his son's dealings, sparked tension early in the hearing by accusing Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) of lying.

  • "Rep. Dan Goldman and Jamie Raskin ... will continue to lie today in this hearing and go straight to the media to tell more lies," Bobulinski said, prompting Raskin to cut in and ask whether a House rule restricting members from insulting each other also applies to witnesses.
  • "Does it apply or does it not," Raskin asked Comer, with Bobulinski – using a phrase often invoked by members to cut off witnesses – remarking, "Am I supposed to say it's my time, Mr. Raskin?"
  • Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), wearing a Vladimir Putin mask, reportedly shouted to Bobulinki, "Keep going, you fool!"

Yes, but: It wasn't just Republican witnesses who caused a stir. Ukrainian-American businessman and former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, the Democrats' witness, took aim at one of the Republican members of the committee.

  • "When I was arrested, my original indictment linked me to an individual referred to as unindicted co-conspirator 1. We know now this individual to be Congressman Pete Sessions, who sits on this very committee," he said.
  • Parnas and another Soviet-born Giuliani associate were accused of raising $20,000 for Sessions (R-Texas) as they attempted to secure his help in ousting then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Between the lines: Partisan back-and-forths have become commonplace for the Oversight panel, whose members include some of the biggest personalities in both parties.

  • At a January hearing to hold Hunter Biden in contempt of Congress, at which the president's son unexpectedly showed up, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) told him: "You have no balls."
  • Moskowitz then tried to get Republicans to allow Hunter Biden to testify, telling Mace: "If the gentlelady wants to hear from Hunter Biden, we can hear from him right now ... let's take a vote."
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