PRESS RELEASE Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release
Date: January 24, 2024
Washington, D.C. – In a new piece in The Messenger, James Comer’s GOP colleagues expressed their frustrations with the absolute dud that is Comer’s impeachment stunt after a year of investigations. Comer’s fellow Republicans have expressed frustration that the chairman has failed to produce a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden this close to the election, showing that all MAGA Republicans really care about is playing politics. In response, Congressional Integrity Project executive director, Kyle Herrig, issued the following statement:
“James Comer and the MAGA House GOP have wasted all year on this baseless investigation into President Biden where they have not discovered any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever. The only thing Comer has proven is that he is incapable of leading the Oversight Committee without embarrassing himself and his colleagues along the way. Republicans in Congress have made it clear that this impeachment investigation is nothing but a political stunt, and Comer is conducting a clown show by continuing to pursue it.”
The Messenger: Republicans Turn on Their Impeachment Chairman: ‘Parade of Embarrassments’ (Exclusive)
One Trump ally told The Messenger ‘the base is starting to get more and more frustrated’ with Comer
By Stephen Neukam // January 24, 2024
House Republicans are increasingly disenchanted with Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., saying his leadership of the Biden impeachment inquiry has become a “clueless investigation” at best and — at worst — “a disaster.”
Less than 10 months away from the 2024 election, his impeachment investigation is barreling toward its conclusion, with no smoking gun to bring the president to his knees. Only one thing is clear: Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has lost the trust of some in his own party.
“One would be hard pressed to find the best moment for James Comer in the Oversight Committee,” one House Republican lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to maintain internal relationships, told The Messenger. “It’s been a parade of embarrassments.”
The GOP House member is among over a dozen Republicans — lawmakers, senior aides and strategists — interviewed for this story.
Republican sources have a problem with what the investigation has not accomplished. The probe has taken a winding road, jetting off into different paths of inquiry, some more obscure than others, from chasing claims of foreign bribery and influence peddling to probing the sale of Hunter Biden’s artwork and loans between the president and his brother. Republicans at the highest level of the party criticize the chairman’s unfocused investigation.
“Comer has cast a wide net and caught very little fish. That is a big problem for him,” one personal ally of former President Donald Trump told The Messenger.
That’s not to say Republicans don’t see a basis for the investigation. With the thousands of financial documents Comer’s panel has found and testimony of key witnesses, the probe has produced viable lanes of inquiry, GOP sources say, including claims of Biden family influence peddling and that Biden, as vice president, was allegedly implicated in a bribery scheme in Ukraine.
But they now fear Comer’s mismanagement of the inquiry has ruined the GOP party’s opportunity to score a much-ballyhooed election-year victory of impeaching the president, one source close to House GOP leadership said.
“James Comer continues to embarrass himself and House Republicans. He screws up over and over and over,” the source said. “I don’t know how Republicans actually impeach the president based on his clueless investigation and lack of leadership.”
One of the “embarrassments” that a number of sources pointed to was Comer’s latest back and forth with Hunter Biden, who over the past year has increasingly become a focus of the impeachment investigation. Republicans earlier this month were on the verge of holding the president’s son in contempt of Congress for skipping out on a deposition in the probe late last year.
When the Oversight Committee met two weeks ago to debate the contempt resolution, Hunter Biden pulled a show-stopping stunt by appearing in person in the hearing room, turning the proceedings into a circus of vulgarities, with one Republican lawmaker shouting that the first son has “no balls.”
“It seems like they got played by Hunter Biden,” one senior House GOP aide said. “It was a disaster. They looked like buffoons.”
Republicans also have grown tired of Comer’s frequent TV hits on conservative networks like Fox News and Newsmax in which they say he promises bombshell information, but then fails to produce impeachable evidence to meet the bar he himself has set too high.
One Republican pointed to the Oversight panel’s first impeachment hearing in September, which Comer said would be a venue for the committee to lay out its findings to date. But the hearing was widely panned as a disaster, with Jonathan Turley, one of the GOP’s star witnesses at the hearing, admitting there was not yet enough evidence to impeach the president.
“They have stumbled with high profile information that wasn’t what it was promised,” the senior House GOP aide said.
Twice-impeached Trump himself threatened House Republicans in August to impeach Biden “or fade into OBLIVION.”
The source close to Trump also said Comer “set the bar too high” for an impeachable offense, attempting to prove a direct payment to Joe Biden in the probe. The investigation spent weeks rolling out payments to Joe Biden from Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s son and brother, which the White House and Biden allies brushed off as loan repayments. Proving a direct payment to the president, the source said, was not necessary.
“He has been one to essentially say things like we need to find all these transfers to Joe Biden and that’s what an impeachable offense is,” the Trump ally said. “He has set the bar too high when it shouldn’t be set that high for impeachment. Congress determines what is a high crime and misdemeanor.”
A spokesperson for Comer said the chairman has “made it clear this investigation’s legislative purpose is to ban influence peddling and reform federal ethics laws.”
“Now that we are in an impeachment inquiry, the Oversight Committee, along with the Committees on the Judiciary and Ways and Means, are continuing to follow the facts to determine whether President Biden’s conduct warrants articles of impeachment,” the spokesperson said.
Republican angst over Comer’s performance has been shared directly with Speaker Mike Johnson, according to one lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about internal meetings.
The Republican lawmaker who took his complaints of Comer to the speaker’s office was told that Johnson is aware of the problem, agrees with the criticism but can’t really do much other than watch and shake his head, the lawmaker told The Messenger.
A spokesperson for the speaker denied that such an exchange took place.
Top House Republicans stand next to Comer amid the intra-party criticism. Johnson told The Messenger that he is “fully supportive” of the chairman’s work.
“I am grateful for the superb efforts of Chairman Comer,” the speaker said in a statement to The Messenger. “Without his and the other investigators’ work, we wouldn’t have uncovered the millions in foreign funds going to the Biden family, the dozens of exchanges between the President and Hunter Biden’s clients, and the litany of lies the White House has told.”
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., also praised Comer, saying the chairman has “worked tirelessly” to conduct the Biden probe.
“I’m proud of all the work Chairman Comer has done so far to follow the facts, lead a transparent investigation, deliver the truth to the American people and ensure we are upholding our constitutional duty to hold the President accountable,” Scalise said.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., credited the Kentucky congressman’s “hard work and strong conservative leadership” for proving what she said is “the criminal conduct of Hunter Biden and the illegal Biden family influence peddling leading straight to the ‘Big Guy.'”
A source close to Comer told The Messenger that the Oversight chairman is getting nearly “daily” requests from other lawmakers for him to travel to their districts and talk about the work of the panel.
But for Comer’s critics, perhaps the biggest issue is the calendar. Less than 10 months out from the 2024 election, the investigation into the president and his family (which began even before an impeachment inquiry was opened last September) has dragged on since the GOP took over the House last January.
And with election season getting closer and closer, there is deep skepticism that House Republicans will ever get to impeach the president.
“You have to start producing,” a Trump ally said. “The base is starting to get more and more frustrated with him because they see all this smoke but they don’t see the movement.”