House GOP pushes Hunter Biden probe despite thin majority

WASHINGTON (AP) – Even with their majority in the House, Republicans doubled down this week by using their new powers next year to investigate the Biden administration and, in particular, the president’s son.

But the mid-year results emboldened the White House, which has been preparing for this moment for a long time. Republicans secured smaller margins than expectedand aides to President Joe Biden and other Democrats believe voters are punishing the GOP for its reliance on conspiracy theories and Donald Trump’s lies that influenced the 2020 election.

They see it as confirmation of the administration’s playbook for the midterms and moving forward to focus on the success of the law and continue, unlike the candidates aligned with Trump whose complaints about the president’s son played to their loyal supporters and were far from growing. for the average American. Democrats have retained control of the Senate, and the GOP margin in the House is expected to be the thinnest in two decades.

“If you look back, we picked up seats in New York, New Jersey, California,” said Mike DuHaime, a Republican strategist and public affairs manager. “These were not voters who came to the polls because they wanted Hunter Biden investigated – far from it. They were coming to the polls because they were angry about the rise in prices. They are upset about gas prices. They are outraged by what is going on with the war in Ukraine.”

But House Republicans used their first news conference after getting a majority to discuss the president’s son Hunter Biden and the Department of Justice, rekindling long-standing complaints about what they claim is a political law enforcement agency and an explosive corruption case ignored by Democrats and the media.

“From their first press conference, these Republicans made it clear that they are going to do one thing in this new Congress, which is investigation, and they are doing political payback for Biden’s efforts on a pro-working-class agenda. “said Kyle Herrig, founder of the Congressional Integrity Project, a newly launched, multimillion-dollar effort by Democratic officials to combat the onslaught of House GOP probes.

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Inside the White House, the counsel’s office has added staff in recent months and strengthened communications efforts, and staff have been deep in research and preparation for the attack. They work to identify their weaknesses and plan effective responses. But anything the House wants related to Hunter Biden, who is not a White House employee, will come from his lawyers, who have declined to respond to the allegations.

Rep. James Comer, the incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said that there are “disturbing questions” very important about the business of Hunter Biden and one of the president’s brothers, James Biden, which requires a serious investigation. He said they are also examining the president.

“Rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government is a key mission of the House Judiciary Committee,” said Comer, R-Ky. “So, this research is key.”

Republican lawmakers promised new information last week, but what they have shown so far is an abridged review of several years of complaints about Hunter Biden’s business dealings, which go back to conspiracy theories raised by Trump.

Hunter Biden joined the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma in 2014, around the time his father, then vice president, was helping to run the Obama administration’s policy on Ukraine. Senate Republicans say the appointment could pose a conflict of interestbut they did not show evidence that the appointment had an impact on US policies, and they did not implicate Joe Biden in any error.

Republican lawmakers and their staff have been analyzing text messages and financial transactions found on Hunter Biden’s laptop for the past year. They have long discussed issuing congressional subpoenas to foreign agencies he did business with, and recently brought in James Mandolfo, a former federal prosecutor, to assist in the investigation as general counsel for the Oversight Committee.

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The difference now is that Republicans will have subpoena power to follow.

“Republicans will continue,” said Tom Davis, a Republican lawyer who works on congressional research and legislative planning. “I think their members are interested in pursuing this … there are a lot of unanswered questions. Look, the 40-year trend is for teams to under-investigate and over-investigate the other team. It didn’t start here.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed the GOP’s focus on the investigation as “brand” thinking.

“They said they were going to fight inflation, they said they were going to make it very important, and then they got a majority and their priority is not to focus on the American family, but to focus on the president’s family,” he said.

Even some newly elected Republicans are pushing back against the idea.

“The main thing is to deal with inflation and the cost of living. … What I don’t want to see is what we saw in the Trump administration, where the Democrats went after the president and the administration endlessly,” Rep.-elect Mike Lawler of New York said on CNN.

Hunter Biden’s taxes and foreign business activity are already under federal investigation, with a grand jury in Delaware hearing evidence in recent months.

Although he has never held a position in the presidential campaign or in the White House, his membership on the board of an energy company in Ukraine and his efforts to protest contracts in China have long raised questions about whether he is selling out on his father’s public service, including the report. references in his emails to “the great man.”

Joe Biden has said he hasn’t talked to his son about his foreign business, and nothing Republicans have said suggests otherwise. And there is no indication that the federal investigation involved the president.

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Trump and his supporters, meanwhile, have advanced the implausible theory that Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s chief prosecutor to protect his son and Burisma from the investigation. Biden pushed for the prosecutor to be fired, but that reflected the legal position of not only the Obama administration but many Western countries and because the prosecutor was seen as soft on corruption.

House Republicans have also signed off on upcoming investigations into immigration, government spending and parental rights. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray have been put on notice as potential witnesses.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has complained for a long time about what he says is the politicization of the Justice Department and the ongoing probes into Trump.

On Friday, Garland appointed a special counsel overseeing the Department of Justice’s investigation into the existence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate and key issues in a separate investigation involving the Jan 6, 2021, insurgency and efforts to cancel the 2020 election.

Trump, in a speech Friday night at his Mar-a-Lago estate, denounced the development as “the latest in a long line of witch hunts.”

To Joe and Hunter Biden, he asked, “Where is their special prosecutor?”

Matt Mackowiak, a Republican political analyst, said it’s one thing if Hunter Biden’s investigation sticks to questions of corruption, but if it results in the kind of malicious message that has circulated in far-flung circles, “I don’t understand.” I know the public will be very patient with that. ”

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Associate reporter Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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