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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

White House condemns GOP demands in impeachment inquiry

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) arrives for a House Republican conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 7 in Washington, D.C.  (Chip Somodevilla)
By Luke Broadwater New York Times

WASHINGTON – The White House on Friday condemned House Republicans’ wide-ranging impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, saying that there was no legitimacy to the investigation and that recent subpoenas and demands for congressional testimony from the former White House counsel, White House aides and Biden family members were “irresponsible.”

“You appear so determined to impeach the president that you have misrepresented the facts, ignored the overwhelming evidence disproving your claims and repeatedly shifted the rationale for your ‘inquiry,’ ” Richard Sauber, a special counsel for Biden, wrote to Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who leads the Oversight Committee, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who heads the Judiciary Committee.

Sauber’s letter came after House Republicans demanded to interview Biden family members and issued a subpoena to Dana Remus, a former White House counsel under Biden. It was perhaps the strongest rebuke of the inquiry the Biden administration has issued.

House Republicans are investigating myriad aspects of the Biden administration and have accused the president of accepting millions of dollars in bribes and altering U.S. policy to enrich his family, but they have not produced proof to back up their claims. Their investigation has focused on the president’s son, Hunter Biden, and work he did for companies and partners in Ukraine, China and other countries. They are also investigating Biden’s handling of classified documents and whether his administration interfered with a Justice Department investigation into Hunter Biden, who is under indictment on charges of lying about his drug use on a federal form he filled out to purchase a handgun in 2018.

On Wednesday, Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., met with Comer, Jordan and Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., chair of the Ways and Means Committee, for an update on the inquiry.

Johnson credited the men for their work and endorsed their efforts to question more witnesses in closed-door interviews.

“Now, the appropriate step is to place key witnesses under oath and question them under the penalty of perjury, to fill gaps in the record,” Johnson said. “I commend the good work of chairmen Comer, Jordan and Smith. As we move forward toward an inflection point in this critical investigation, they have my full and unwavering support.”

This month, House Republicans issued subpoenas demanding testimony from Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s brother, as they hunt for evidence to try to build an impeachment case against him.

Comer also demanded that other Biden family members submit to transcribed interviews. He sent letters seeking interviews to Sara Biden, James Biden’s wife; Hallie Biden, widow of Beau Biden, the president’s older son; Elizabeth Secundy, Hallie Biden’s sister; and Melissa Cohen, who is married to Hunter Biden.

“These requests appear to be motivated by a desire to boost your subpoena numbers, as Chairman Jordan tweeted just this week, rather than any legitimate investigative interest,” Sauber wrote Friday. “Congressional harassment of the president to score political points is precisely the type of conduct that the Constitution and its separation of powers was meant to prevent.”

Sauber added, “You should reconsider your current course of action and withdraw these subpoenas and demands for interviews.”

Comer responded in a statement that he would not back off his demands for interviews with White House staff members.

“If President Biden has nothing to hide, then he should make his current and former staff available to testify before Congress about his mishandling of classified documents,” he said.

In some ways, House Republican leadership has used the inquiry as leverage to try to keep hard-right forces at bay.

Johnson is seen as a more full-throated supporter of the investigation than former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. In July, Johnson called the Bidens “hopelessly corrupt” and said they had “apparently engaged in a long pattern of extortion, bribery, influence peddling, tax fraud and staggering abuses of power.”

Since becoming speaker, Johnson has adopted a more neutral tone, telling reporters, “We have to follow due process, and we have to follow the law.”

Also Friday, Johnson said he would begin making good on another promise he made to the hard-right Republican faction in Congress: He said House Republicans would begin posting online more than 40,000 hours of footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

McCarthy had allowed the footage to be viewed in person, but resisted posting all of it online because of security concerns by the U.S. Capitol Police. Johnson said Friday that more than 95% of the footage – all except parts deemed a security risk – would be posted online in tranches over the next several months.

“Today, we will begin immediately posting video on a public website and move as quickly as possible to add to the website nearly all of the footage, more than 40,000 hours,” Johnson said. “In the meantime, a public viewing room will ensure that every citizen can view every minute of the videos uncensored.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.