Comer Determined to Advance Inquiries Into Bidens, White House
WASHINGTON — Speaking before the National Press Club this week, House Oversight Chair James Comer, R-Ky., said his panel is determined to press investigations into President Joe Biden and his family to ensure they did not illegally profit from relationships with China.
“Unfortunately … I feel like we’re two years behind in oversight,” said Comer, whose committee will soon commence an investigation into “Hunter Biden’s laptop.”
“So we’re going to have to go back two years to try to get caught up, in addition to providing the current oversight and future oversight,” he said.
Though he acknowledged that the Oversight Committee’s primary “mission” is to “root out waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the federal government,” he said as Congress’ chief investigative committee his panel is obligated to probe what he called “Biden family influence peddling.”
He went on to claim the committee has evidence the Bidens “have taken in millions and millions of dollars from our adversaries,” and mainly from China.
“I think we need to determine what that money was for, and who supplied it. That’s the basis of the investigation,” Comer told moderator Emily Wilkins, the vice president of the press club and congressional reporter with Bloomberg Government.
“If members of the Biden family were getting millions of dollars from China, I think that’s worth investigating,” he added. “Why were they paying that money? What were they getting in return for that investment?”
According to Comer, the investigation is supposed to get underway in earnest next week.
The committee chair said the millions of dollars allegedly paid to Hunter and Joe Biden were payments for consulting services.
“We’d like to know what that consulting was,” he said. “What was the return on their investment? I don’t know, but we want to find out. Now, it could be the administration comes back and says, look, this was legitimate work.
“Hunter Biden is a crackerjack lawyer and he deserved to be paid for his legal services. They could say, he knows more about energy policy than anybody in the world and that’s why he was being paid … if they would explain that, then I think a lot of these problems would subside a little.
“But all they do is roll their eyes at the audacity of Republicans to ask these questions,” he said.
Wilkins pushed back, noting the Senate has already looked into many of the matters Comer was raising.
“It was looked into by the Senate, but remember, [the Republicans] were in the minority, and they didn’t have subpoena power. So I don’t think it has been thoroughly looked into … because there’s a concern that maybe Joe Biden played a role in that. I don’t know if he did or not, but I want to look into that.”
Comer then raised the issue of so-called “suspicious activity reports,” banking records that flag suspicious wire transfers and the like.
The Republican chair claims there are 150-plus suspicious activity reports that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen continues to block his access to.
Wilkins noted that the Congressional Research Service has reported that for fiscal year 2022, a total 3.6 million suspicious activity reports were filed, and that the Bank Policy Institute, a financial services advocacy group based in Washington, has said that annually only about 4% of the reports lead to any kind of law enforcement inquiry at all.
“So I’m wondering, because you have said that you want this [inquiry] to be very factual …”
“I do,” Comer said.
“And that you want it to be accurate …”
“I do,” Comer said.
“Whether there is a concern to be sort of pointing to all of these suspicious activity reports when in reality, the vast bulk of suspicious activity reports don’t have any sort of criminal element to them?” Wilkins asked.
Comer responded by saying his family has a long history in banking, and that bank examiners simply don’t have the time to go through every suspicious activity report.
“Now, I will say this, if [these reports] are no big deal, then why won’t they let us have access to them? Because, you know, I would find it very surprising that a bank would file a suspicious activity report on the son of a sitting vice president of the United States unless they were pretty certain there had been some type of major violation committed,” he said.
Comer also revealed that as far as he’s concerned, the Oversight Committee’s investigation into these allegations of potential wrong-doing and its inquiry into the classified documents found in Biden’s possession are “really one investigation.”
“It’s not really two [separate inquiries] because the reason I’m concerned about the Biden documents is because there’s some reason China has donated so much money to different Biden interests. I don’t think they’re doing it out of the kindness of their hearts.
“China is an adversary … shouldn’t someone look into this to make sure everything is above board? That’s what we’re doing,” he said.
Comer also said he and ranking member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., have agreed to work on new legislation on the handling of classified documents in the wake of their being found not just at Biden’s home and office, but also at former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago and former Vice President Mike Pence’s home as well.
“Obviously, when you have two special counsels investigating roughly the same thing, then you know there’s a problem,” he said. “I don’t know what the answer is, but Jamie Raskin and I have both said we’re going to work together in a bipartisan way to try to come up with a legislative fix prior to this administration leaving office and the next one coming in.
“I mean, somebody needs to oversee all of the documents that are going into boxes to make sure they’re not classified before they’re loaded onto a truck and taken away,” he said.
“Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, [R-Ga.], who now sits on the Oversight Committee, suggested to CSPAN that Biden’s handling of classified documents is an impeachable offense. Do you agree with that?” Wilkins asked.
“It would be impeachable if he was using those documents in a way to profit for his family, which there’s no evidence that happened. But that’s something that I think needs looking into,” Comer said.
While the Biden-related inquiries will no doubt be the most hot-button of the investigations the committee undertakes during this Congress, Comer said the panel will also spend a considerable amount of time investigating potential waste and fraud in the federal government’s massive layout of pandemic funding, and that it will also look into matters related to the border crisis, energy regulation and prescription drug costs, among others.
“I want this to be a substantive committee,” Comer said. “And I believe that the committee needs to get back to its primary mission of rooting out waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the federal government.”
Comer said he believes his committee’s inquiry into pandemic spending will help “claw back” significant funding, and that that will play a significant role in talks between Congress and the White House on the debt ceiling and future spending cuts.
“There’s still a significant amount of COVID dollars that are unspent in various accounts throughout the federal government,” he noted.
However, no matter how much of that money the committee can locate, Republicans are still going to fight for spending cuts. “And the American taxpayer should be thankful that somebody in this town realized that you cannot continue to spend a trillion dollars a year more than you bring in.”
Asked what might be on the chopping block, Comer said, “everything except Social Security and Medicare is going to be on the table, including defense.”
“Are you looking at cutting specific programs? Looking at caps on programs?” Wilkins asked.
Comer reiterated that almost everything is on the table at this point, as far as he and his fellow Republicans are concerned.
“I mean, this is something that Congress has allowed to go on for decades,” he said. “Both parties have been on a spending spree. If the economy is as strong as Biden claims, now is the time to try to tighten our belt.
“You know, President Kennedy was the first president, to my understanding, to operate with deficit spending. And his rationale was that in tough times, we may have to spend more than we take in, but in good times we’ll pay that back.
“Well, there’s never been a pay back except for maybe one or two years during the Clinton administration when the economy was on fire and we were close to having a balanced budget … but this is out of control and COVID made it worse. We’ve got to get serious about trying to live within our means,” Comer said.