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HEADLINE ROUNDUP: James Comer’s Terrible Week… And It’s Only Tuesday

Jan 31, 2023

MAGA Oversight Chair James Comer has spearheaded a terrible kick-off to the extremist House GOP’s first week of partisan hearings. First, he admitted that his committee has no evidence to back claims of influence peddling that are supposedly the basis for investigating the Biden family’s personal finances. Despite clear evidence of Trump’s kids receiving business deals as a result of their government positions, Comer ruled out investigating them as well. Next, during an appearance at the National Press Club, Comer laid out an obvious double standard on classified documents. He declared that House Oversight will be ignoring the Trump controversy due to an ongoing special counsel probe, even though the DOJ has appointed a special counsel to investigate President Biden as well. Finally, news broke that Comer’s family personally benefited from the very PPP loan forgiveness program that his committee is investigating. It’s a bad week to be James Comer—and it’s only Tuesday.

Daily Beast: GOP Chair Wants to Probe COVID Loans—He Might Start at Home. “New House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) has vowed to use his position to investigate ‘waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement’ in federal COVID loans. But if that’s the case, he might actually find himself looking into his own role in that program—as well as his brother’s. In 2020, Comer, a critic of government spending, co-sponsored legislation that would essentially automatically forgive COVID Paycheck Protection Program loans of $150,000 or less. After the bill passed, Comer’s brother, Chad, received about $12,000 in PPP loans at the address of a farm he appears to have co-owned with the congressman, listing one employee, according to federal data. Rep. Comer was formerly on the board of the bank that secured his brother’s loan, which has been forgiven in full, plus interest, according to ProPublica data. Comer’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this story. Kyle Herrig, executive director of the left-leaning Congressional Integrity Project, told The Daily Beast in a statement that Comer had ‘padded his brother’s pockets’ and should start his investigation by ‘looking in the mirror.’” [Daily Beast, 1/31/23]

Congressional Integrity Project: Waste & Abuse: How House Republicans Made Millions From Flawed Pandemic Relief Program. “Today, Congressional Integrity Project released a new report, Waste & Abuse: How House Republicans Made Millions From Flawed Pandemic Relief Program, highlighting House Oversight Republicans who benefited from Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans ahead of the House Oversight Committeee’s hearing tomorrow on pandemic relief programs. Congressional Integrity Project Executive Director, Kyle Herrig, said the following about the report: ‘James Comer is starting his hypocritical reign as head of the House Oversight Committee by trying to blame the Biden administration for fraud in pandemic relief programs – despite the fact that the programs were started under President Trump. MAGA Republicans like Jim Jordan and Steve Scalise defended the program trying to pin the success on their leader, Donald Trump, but now that they are doing a 180 degree turn in an attempt to attack President Biden and Democrats. The same Republicans who will spend the hearing tomorrow attacking President Biden for programs like the Paycheck Protection Program received a combined total of over $3.5 million in PPP loans to businesses associated with them. Maybe the Oversight Committee should start with investigating their own loans.’” [Congressional Integrity Project, 1/31/23]

MSNBC: Comer Still Struggling With His Classified Docs Double Standard. “With this in mind, if the House Oversight Committee were going to take an interest in the larger issue, it stands to reason that Trump and his alleged criminal misconduct would be of interest. But it’s not: The Republican chairman of the panel, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky has not only defended the former president’s actions, he’s also dismissed the scandal’s importance. Comer is, however, deeply interested in pursuing the Biden story, despite the fact that it appears far less serious. How does the GOP chairman explain the double standard? He’s still working on that. […] It was like watching a snake eat its own tail. This morning, the Kentucky Republican appeared at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and elaborated on why he’s ignoring the Trump controversy. ‘Well, there’s a special counsel,’ Comer explained. ‘There’s a special counsel and I am confident that that special counsel is looking into everything.’” [MSNBC, 1/30/23]

Axios: Comer’s Two-Step Messaging War. “House Oversight Chair James Comer plans to project a factual, methodical face for official Washington — while thrilling the right-wing base with sideshows of outrage and conspiracy theories. Why it matters: Comer, a top powerhouse of the new GOP majority, has been road-testing this strategy for months — with solemn appearances on Sunday shows, but more aggressive outings in conservative media. Comer’s two-pronged strategy for communication reflects the tightrope top Republicans are walking as they pursue promised investigations into the Biden administration and federal agencies with a tenuous House majority. Recent polls indicate that independent voters are wary of Republicans’ plans for aggressive probes, an incentive for Comer to present himself in certain settings as a sober investigator.” [Axois, 1/30/23]

Raw Story: House Oversight Chair Mocked For Claiming No Evidence Of Trump Influence Peddling. “The powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James Comer (R-KY) is being highly mocked after declaring he will investigate President Joe Biden for ‘influence peddling’ despite admitting there’s little if any evidence President Biden has engaged in influence peddling. When pressed, he pointed to Biden’s classified documents and one alleged email from Hunter Biden’s laptop. But when pressed again by a frustrated CNN host, asking why he’s not investigating ex-president Donald Trump, he couldn’t offer a valid reason, except to claim there no evidence of it. Some were quick to point out the Trump’s tenure in the White House was filled with alleged influence peddling operations. […] Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) called it a ‘a politically-driven fishing expedition.’ ‘Republican hypocrisy on full display,’ Gomez tweeted in response. ‘How can you launch an investigation without any evidence? This is a politically-driven fishing expedition — full stop. Lots of political stunts, not a lot of problem-solving.’ But, as several people noted, there is plenty of apparent evidence against Donald Trump.” [Raw Story, 1/30/23]