House Oversight chairman invites Biden to testify in impeachment probe

WASHINGTON — The Republican chairman of the House Oversight panel on Thursday formally invited President Joe Biden to testify before his committee as a part of its impeachment probe.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who leads the committee, proposed in a letter Thursday that Biden appear on April 16, and cited testimony at a public hearing last week from former business associates of Hunter Biden — Tony Bobulinski and Jason Galanis. Comer said their testimony contradicted statements the president has made about his involvement in his son’s business dealings. He first announced his plans to invite the president to testify at the end of that hearing, which also included former Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas.

“In light of the yawning gap between your public statements and the evidence assembled by the Committee, as well as the White House’s obstruction, it is in the best interest of the American people for you to answer questions from Members of Congress directly, and I hereby invite you to do so,” Comer wrote.

The proposed testimony would come at a pivotal moment for Biden’s main 2024 challenger, former President Donald Trump. The trial for Trump’s New York criminal case is set to begin a day earlier, on April 15.

Comer’s letter specifically cites President Gerald Ford’s testimony before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 as precedent.

In response, the White House pointed to a post on X from spokesman Ian Sams last week when Comer made the public announcement that he planned to invite Biden to testify.

“Comer knows 20+ witnesses have testified that POTUS did nothing wrong,” Sams said in the post. “He knows that the hundreds of thousands of pages of records he’s received have refuted his false allegations. This is a sad stunt at the end of a dead impeachment. Call it a day, pal.”

Democrats on the Oversight panel wrote on X Thursday that Republicans “couldn’t find an impeachable offense,” and called evidence in the probe “comically distorted and twisted.”

“The GOP impeachment inquiry has been a circus. Time to fold up the tent,” they wrote.

Bobulinski and Galanis testified during a hearing last week that the president participated in schemes to help Hunter Biden’s businesses, which the White House has denied.

“The public is left with two irreconcilable narratives. The first — asserted by you — is that you did not engage in influence peddling in exchange for payments to your family,” Comer wrote on Thursday. “The second — asserted by witnesses and a body of evidence I will briefly review below — is that you were indeed involved in these pay-for-influence schemes.”

Comer’s letter pointed to loans Biden made prior to his presidency to his brother, James Biden. The president’s brother last month testified behind closed doors that the loans were “short-term” and quickly repaid.

Comer also said the committee has testimony saying the president “regularly joined meetings by speakerphone” with his son and his business associates. Devon Archer, a former business associate of Hunter Biden, testified in July that the president joined roughly 20 calls with his son and associates, but that they were brief conversations that did not address official business. Archer also testified that he was not aware of any wrongdoing by the president.

Parnas, who was invited to appear as a witness by Democrats on the committee, testified last week that there was no evidence of Biden family corruption involving Ukraine and that the Russian government had pushed the false claims. He later told NBC News in an interview that the Republican-led hearings were “pushing the same Russian narrative and propaganda.”

House Republicans have repeatedly taken aim at Hunter Biden as part of their impeachment inquiry into his father, which has not provided any evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the president.

The Republican-led probe faced a significant setback last month when former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, whose claims played a major role in igniting the probe, was indicted and accused of feeding false information to the FBI about Biden and his son during the 2020 presidential campaign.

In his own closed-door deposition with the House Oversight and Judiciary committees last month as part of the impeachment inquiry, Hunter Biden testified that he did not involve his father in his business dealings, and condemned the probe as a “baseless and destructive political charade” based on “MAGA-motivated conspiracies.”

Rebecca Kaplan reported from Washington and Zoë Richards from New York. 

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