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ROUNDUP: James Comer’s First Evidence-Free Impeachment Hearing “Turned Into A Clown Show”

Sep 29, 2023

Watch the Congressional Integrity Project’s new reel highlighting what an absolute disaster yesterday’s impeachment hearing was.

The reviews are in: James Comer’s long-promised inaugural impeachment hearing was a complete and utter failure, a “disappointment before it started” as the country reels toward a GOP government shutdown that will leave millions of Americans without paychecks, food aid, or Social Security assistance. Just like Comer’s past nine months of failure after failure, Republicans and their MAGA witnesses failed to produce a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. In fact, one of their own witnesses, Trump lackey Jonathan Turley, even said there was NO evidence to support impeachment. Republicans themselves have admitted that this MAGA fishing expedition was “weak,” and former Trump administration official Sebastian Gorka even confessed that Democrats “owned the Republicans.” 

This hearing marks yet another new low for desperate MAGA House Republicans looking for a distraction from their total inability to govern. Once again, all Republicans proved was that they care more about doing Trump’s bidding than helping the American people and protecting them from a shutdown of their own making.

New York Magazine: Republicans Held an Impeachment Hearing and It Turned Into a Clown Show. The impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden was already a disappointment before it started on Thursday. […] The hearing, which was an effort to lay out the Republican case for connecting Biden with his son Hunter’s sleazy overseas business dealings, started with some promise. The hearing room overflowed with reporters and the full array of perennial hearing attendees. The left-wing Congressional Integrity Project sent observers — one in a mask — wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the face of committee chair James Comer and the slogan ‘no evidence’ written above it. Only a few chairs down sat the mother of Ashli Babbitt, the insurrectionist shot dead by Capitol Police on January 6 while trying to break into the House chamber, and conservative media personality Tom Fitton.” [New York Magazine, 9/28/23]

The Guardian: The Biden Impeachment Hearing Was A Fishing Expedition – No One Took The Bait. “But it was clear from the moment the Republican committee chair, James Comer, banged his gavel to launch more than six hours of accusation, distraction, attacks on witnesses and grandstanding that, for his party at least, the matter was already settled. Comer promised ‘a mountain of evidence, revealing how Joe Biden abused his public office for his family’s financial gain’. If so, it wasn’t immediately evident amid the endless flashing of documents and emails on to the committee’s screens, and the convoluted attempts to make connections through supposition and suspicion. […] But even the Republicans’ own witnesses would only go so far as to say that, while there was enough evidence for an investigation, it was not enough to establish the president’s guilt.” [The Guardian, 9/28/23]

The Washington Post (Opinion): No Pay For Troops? Fine. But The Hunter Biden Probe? Essential!. “And so, barring some deus ex machina, millions of U.S. troops and other government employees will be forced to work without pay beginning on Sunday. Other federal workers will be furloughed; millions of women, infants and children will be denied food assistance; and many more Americans will find that the government services they count on — national parks, airport security, medical research, health and safety inspections, small business loans, infrastructure projects — have been curtailed. But House Republicans did take action to protect and insulate one crucial government function from the ravages of a shutdown. They have designated their impeachment inquiry into the president an ‘essential’ operation, CNN’s Annie Grayer and Melanie Zanona report, so vital to the national interest that it must continue undisturbed during a shutdown. How’s that for a set of priorities? The troops won’t be paid and infants won’t be fed — but the pursuit of Hunter Biden must go on. Perhaps it is ‘essential’ to keep the impeachment investigation going because, after nine months of subpoenas, interviews, hearings and the mining of 12,000 pages of bank records, House GOP sleuths still haven’t produced any evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. In a stark acknowledgment of that failure, they now claim that they don’t actually need direct proof of misconduct to impeach him.” [The Washington Post (Opinion), 9/29/23]

Semafor: Impeachment Inquiry Stumbles Out The Gate. “The House GOP’s official impeachment inquiry got off to an awkward start Thursday, as two of their expert witnesses said Republicans were short on proof that President Biden was guilty of serious wrongdoing. […]  As one GOP aide put it to Semafor’s Kadia Goba:It’s a total and complete shitshow. Our own witnesses said that Biden has not committed crimes lmao.’” [Semafor, 9/29/23]

Politico Playbook: “COMER’S IMPEACHMENT BELLYFLOP — This Is The Way The Impeachment Inquiry Began: Not With A Bang, But A Whimper.” “COMER’S IMPEACHMENT BELLYFLOP — This is the way the impeachment inquiry began: not with a bang, but a whimper. After weeks of hype, yesterday’s kickoff of the official proceedings in the House Oversight Committee’s Biden impeachment inquiry seemed, well, lackluster. It was, as one Republican aide told CNN’s Melanie Zanona, ‘an unmitigated disaster.’ ‘I don’t know what was achieved over these last six-plus hours,’ said Fox News anchor NEIL CAVUTO, encapsulating the reaction of much of the commentariat. ‘JAMES COMER, the Oversight Committee chairman, said there would be presented a mountain of evidence against Mr. Biden. But none of the expert witnesses today presented, yet, any proof for impeachment.’” [Politico 9/29/23]

Newsweek: How Joe Biden Impeachment Inquiry Unraveled—Five Key Takeaways. “The proceedings, which were recently announced by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in what was seen as a way to appease the hardline and far-right factions of the GOP, got off to a rocky start, with the House Republican’s [sic] star witness stating there is not enough evidence to support an article of impeachment against Biden, and Democratic members of Congress describing the hearings as an ‘embarrassment’ and ‘an impeachment hearing about nothing.’ Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said the hearings will still yet reveal ‘a mountain of evidence’ to back up claims Biden used his power and influence for his family’s financial gain and that such an investigation is needed.” [Newsweek, 9/29/23]

Axios: Biden Impeachment Hearing Gets Off To Sputtering Start. ​​“Some House Republicans appeared taken by surprise when two of their handpicked witnesses at the first impeachment hearing testified that there isn’t sufficient evidence — at least not yet — to impeach President Biden. Why it matters: Having launched an impeachment inquiry without a House vote, no direct of evidence [sic] of wrongdoing and against the backdrop of an imminent government shutdown, Republicans are embarking on a risky expedition that could backfire with voters if they fail to deliver.” [Axios, 9/29/23]

Newsweek: Republicans ‘Owned’ by Democrats During Joe Biden Impeachment Inquiry—Gorka. “Former Trump administration official Sebastian Gorka claimed Democrats ‘owned the Republicans’ at Thursday’s first hearing in the GOP’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, claiming they turned it into ‘impeachment 48 of President Trump.’ Gorka, who served as deputy assistant to the president for seven months in 2017, made the claim during an appearance on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast. […] Referring to the Democrats on Bannon’s show, Gorka said: ‘They still owned the Republicans. Utterly owned them.’ I mean think about it, what did we witness today Steve? It was impeachment 48 of President Trump. They turned the whole thing, their photographs with Ivanka, photographs with Jared,’ he continued. Gorka was referring to Democrat Robert Garcia asking why the committee was not investigating ‘real family corruption’ whilst photos of Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, both former advisors to Trump, were held up. […] ‘And then the last thing Comer stands in the corridor afterwards and says ‘that was a great day bumble bumble bumble bumble’ then he says ‘we just had one question—what did Biden’s get for the tens of millions and he doesn’t answer the question.’ If you think you answered that question today perhaps you should tell the American people what the answer to that question was.’” [Newsweek, 9/29/23]

HuffPost: Jamie Raskin Spots ‘A Lot’ Of Republican Alarm After Biden Impeachment Inquiry ‘Failure’. “Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said Republicans told him ‘directly’ that they were concerned after witnessing what he called a ‘weak’ showing during the first hearing on the GOP-led impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden. ‘I know there was a lot of consternation and alarm on the Republican side to see how weak the case was,’ Raskin told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Thursday. ‘You heard that from Republicans?’ Collins asked. ‘Oh, directly on the floor, in fact,’ Raskin replied. The hearing featured GOP-called witnesses noting that there’s a lack of evidence to impeach Biden, while Democrats ― such as Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) and Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) ― ripped the Republican inquiry. This included Moskowitz knocking Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who told Fox News in June that Republicans were ‘not interested’ in whether allegations about Biden were accurate or not. Earlier in his CNN interview, Raskin said he doesn’t see Republicans ‘moving forward’ with the impeachment inquiry. ‘Do you think there’ll be more impeachment hearings after what we saw today?’ Collins asked. ‘I kind of doubt it after what we saw today, or at least it will be a while,’ Raskin replied.” [HuffPost, 9/29/23]

MSNBC (Opinion): What We Learned At The GOP’s First Biden ‘Impeachment Hearing.’ “Thursday wasn’t a very fun day for the GOP majority on the House Oversight Committee. Republicans had spent the last week hyping their first official hearing since Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. This was supposed to be their big coming-out, the extremely official and serious process of laying out, in their words, ‘the basis for an impeachment inquiry.’ What the GOP got was six hours of muddled, scattershot messaging from its members, united opposition from Democrats, less-than-helpful witnesses and grumbling from within its own ranks at a missed opportunity. We did learn plenty at this hearing — just none of it about Biden himself.” [MSNBC (Opinion), 9/29/23]

CNN: Fact Check: Republicans Make False, Misleading Claims At First Biden Impeachment Inquiry Hearing. “The Republican-led House Oversight Committee is holding its first hearing Thursday in the impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden – and Republicans on the committee have made a series of false and misleading claims, as well as some other claims that have left out critical context.” [CNN, 9/28/23]

Salon: “An Unmitigated Disaster”: House GOP’s First Impeachment Inquiry Panned By Republicans. “The House Oversight Committee’s first hearing for the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden got off to a rocky start Thursday as the Republican witnesses’ testimony appeared to hurt the committee more than help and frustration set in in the chamber. […] Frustration also consumed the GOP during the impeachment hearing, according to CNN, who were aggravated by their witnesses’ testimony countering their narrative and saying that there’s no evidence of Biden’s crimes. ‘Picking witnesses that refute House Republicans arguments for impeachment is mind blowing. This is an unmitigated disaster,’ a senior Republican aide told CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona.” [Salon, 9/28/23]

New York Daily News (Editorial): Kevin McCarthy’s Impeachment Farce Of Joe Biden Shows The Speaker’s Own Weakness. “Chairman James Comer offered little oversight and even less accountability, even as he stressed that this was not an impeachment hearing, but impeachment inquiry hearing. Good to know, James. There was no evidence presented that Biden has abused the presidency and even one of the Republicans’ own witnesses said that there’s not enough here for an impeachment. We didn’t see anything warranting an ‘impeachment inquiry’ either.” [New York Daily News, 9/29/23]