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The GOP's second Biden impeachment hearing was somehow worse than the first

House Republicans spent Wednesday's Oversight Committee trying to turn two of Hunter Biden's former business associates into star witnesses. They failed.

Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry hearing in the House Oversight Committee managed to be somehow even less impressive, and even more damaging to the Republicans’ goal of bringing down President Joe Biden, than the first impeachment hearing held last year. Per the Constitution, the bar for impeaching — let alone convicting — a president is a high one. Despite that, House Republicans have tried to set the bar nice and low. And on Wednesday they showed how far they still are from clearing it.

Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry hearing in the House Oversight Committee managed to be somehow even less impressive than the first impeachment hearing held last year.

Republicans claimed to have two witnesses who would finally rip the lid off this whole “affair” during Wednesday’s hearing, luridly titled “Influence Peddling: Examining Joe Biden’s Abuse of Public Office.” Chairman Jim Comer, R-Ky., promised in his opening statement to show “that Joe Biden has taken action after action to further his family’s plans to get rich.” That allegedly includes supporting efforts from his son, Hunter Biden, and his brother Jim Biden to capitalize on the family name.

The president’s son and brother have privately testified to the Oversight Committee. But apparently none of Hunter Biden’s testimony nor any of Jim Biden’s testimony was important enough for Republicans to include in a two-minute video claiming that “Joe Biden is the Biden family business.” Instead, Republicans played snippets from interviews Hunter Biden’s former associates, Tony Boboluski and Jason Galanis, gave the committee. They also played a snippet of video from Devon Archer, another former business partner of Hunter Biden.

Rather than use Archer’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, though, Republicans relied on an interview he gave former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The Republicans’ decision not to use Archer’s sworn testimony may have something to do with the fact that, according to that transcript, he undermined Comer’s claim that then-Vice President Biden acted corruptly to Hunter Biden’s benefit in Ukraine. Archer declined the committee’s invitation to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. His lawyer told NBC News that Archer “remains ready and willing to cooperate with all authorities in their legitimate investigations.”

Boboluski and Galainis, unlike Archer, have claimed then-Vice President Biden tried to corruptly use his office to enrich his family. Neither have yet offered any direct evidence to back up those claims, and Wednesday was no exception. When they testified to the committee on Wednesday, Democrats, led by Ranking Member Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., pointed out the lack of credibility or valuable information they possess.

“Is it your testimony today you witnessed the president commit a crime?” Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., asked Bobulinski, whose past shadiness includes a weird 2020 meeting during a Trump campaign rally while wearing a ski mask. “Yes,” he answered, but was unable to specifically name a crime that he’d witnessed Biden commit. (He did attempt to cite “corruption statutes, RICO and conspiracy, FARA” but, again, provided no evidence to back up any of those allegations.) Meanwhile, Galanis gave his testimony, which also did not implicate Biden in any crime, from a federal penitentiary. He pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 2017, and in his opening statement he alleged that he’d been denied home confinement in 2020 as part of a Biden administration plot to protect Hunter Biden.

Republicans produced nothing that either hadn’t been aired before or didn’t further undercut their argument that Biden had committed an impeachable offense.

Cleverly, Democrats invited as their witness Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani was an attorney for then-President Donald Trump, and Parnas was in on Giuliani’s attempts to dig up dirt on Biden in Ukraine. Trump’s attempt to strong-arm Ukraine and withhold military aid unless it announced an investigation of Biden eventually led to Trump’s first impeachment. Absurdly, those same claims — that Biden was the one who actually strong-armed Ukraine — have made up the bulk of the GOP’s impeachment investigation into the president. Republicans are pushing forward with this inquiry, even though the person who accused the president of such corruption was recently charged with lying to the FBI.

Parnas was more than happy to remind everyone present that Trump had corruptly meddled with Ukrainian affairs to serve his own re-election campaign. Parnas, who was convicted in 2021 for campaign finance violations, was also keen to stress the origins of much of the muck he’d helped sling toward the Bidens. “The only information ever pushed on the Bidens and Ukraine has come from one source and one source only: Russia and Russian agents,” Parnas said. “The impeachment proceedings that bring us here now are predicated on a bunch of false information that is being spread by the Kremlin,” Parnas said.

Despite taking hours, Republicans produced nothing that either hadn’t been aired before or didn’t further undercut their argument that Biden had committed an impeachable offense. The best thing that could be said about the hearing from a strategic standpoint for Republicans is they can tell their base that their impeachment inquiry is still moving forward. It would be a true statement because technically speaking, the inquiry isn’t wrapping up immediately and because time is still progressing in a linear fashion. But the inquiry isn’t getting any closer to connecting President Biden to an impeachable offense, even as it produces face-plant after face-plant for the GOP.