When it comes to members chairing the House Oversight Committee, the Republican Party hasn’t always sent its best. Before this year, the most recent GOP chairman was South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy, who’s best known for leading a ridiculous investigation into Benghazi conspiracy theories. He was proceeded by Utah’s Jason Chaffetz, who didn’t realize that charts have y axes.
Also in recent memory, California’s Darrell Issa was a relentlessly partisan GOP chairman of the Oversight Committee, following an even more ridiculous tenure from Indiana’s Dan Burton, best known for shooting melons in his backyard in pursuit of anti-Clinton conspiracy theories.
Now, it’s Rep. James Comer’s turn — and it looks like the Kentucky Republican is joining an unfortunate GOP club.
If Comer’s name sounds at all familiar, he’s just now starting to generate a national reputation. In the wake of Election Day 2022, for example, the GOP congressman was so fixated on Hunter Biden that he tried to connect the presidential son to Brittney Griner’s release from a Russian prison.
In the months leading up to the midterm elections, Comer also helped take the lead trying to defend Donald Trump from questions surrounding the former president’s classified documents scandal. The materials Trump took, Comer said, “didn’t amount to a hill of beans.” The Kentuckian added soon after that, as far as he was concerned, the former president didn’t “intend to take anything that he wasn’t supposed to take.”
Asked after the election if his oversight panel might examine the controversy at all, Comer replied that the matter “will not be a priority.”
Wouldn’t you know it, after President Biden and his team disclosed the fact that he inadvertently had some Obama-era classified materials, Comer’s entire perspective changed quickly and dramatically.
Yesterday, for example, Trump boasted that he has “INFO on everyone” who visits Mar-a-Lago. With this in mind, The New York Times reported on Comer’s disinterest in the former president’s visitor logs, despite demanding nonexistent logs from Biden’s personal home.
... Mr. Biden’s Republican critics, like Mr. Comer, are seeking transparency in ways they have not for Mr. Trump. Asked on Monday whether the Oversight Committee would be requesting from Mr. Trump the “INFO on everyone” from Mar-a-Lago, a spokesman for Mr. Comer declined to answer. Instead, he offered a statement that did not address why the committee had sought visitor logs from Mr. Biden’s home, but not Mr. Trump’s.
This came a day after CNN’s Jake Tapper suggested to the congressman that it appeared he only cares about classified documents being mishandled “when Democrats do the mishandling.”
In that same interview, Comer said: “At the end of the day, my biggest concern isn’t the classified documents, to be honest with you. My concern is how there’s such a discrepancy in how former President Trump was treated.”
First, Comer said largely the opposite in a letter to the White House. Second, the Trump and Biden matters have been treated differently because the details of the cases are wildly different.
And third, given his own disparate treatments of related controversies, this seems like an argument the Oversight Committee chairman should try to avoid.
Finally, let’s not brush past the fact that Comer also appeared on Fox News last night and complained, “What amazes me is what the White House said about the fact that they didn’t keep records of who went to and from the president’s personal residence because that was personal. But yet the Democrats released Trump’s personal tax returns.”
Evidently, this was supposed to mean something. The White House can’t produce visitor logs that don’t exist, but Democrats could release tax returns that do exist. This, the Republican chairman said, “amazes” him.
Comer is clearly keeping up the legacy of Gowdy, Chaffetz, Issa and Burton. Unfortunately, that’s not a compliment.