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Facing ‘make-or-break moment,’ GOP’s Comer fails spectacularly

Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer set out to make President Biden look corrupt, but the Republican admitted he still can't find any evidence.


It’s no secret that House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer has struggled this year. The Kentucky Republican, convinced that he’ll uncover evidence of serious wrongdoing on President Joe Biden’s part, has managed to do little more than annoy his colleagues, make an excessive number of appearances on conservative media outlets, and demonstrate an extraordinary ability to connect Hunter Biden to just about anything.

But, we were told, yesterday would be the day that changed everything. The Democratic president would, at long last, face a “judgment day” as House Oversight Committee Republicans unveiled new evidence for all the world to see. For Biden’s critics, it was going to be awesome.

There were, however, some ominous warnings. Charlie Hurt, an editor at the conservative Washington Times, warned on Fox News that it would be "disastrously humiliating" for Comer if the committee chairman failed to deliver the evidence. A Politico headline yesterday morning described it as a “make-or-break moment” for GOP congressman and his anti-Biden crusade.

So, how’d it go? The headline on The New York Times’ report summarized in just 11 words just how badly Comer failed: “House Republican Report Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by President Biden.” From the article:

After four months of investigation, House Republicans who promised to use their new majority to unearth evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden acknowledged on Wednesday that they had yet to uncover incriminating material about him, despite their frequent insinuations that he and his family have been involved in criminal conduct and corruption.

To be sure, Comer and his GOP colleagues pointed to all kinds of materials related to the president’s relatives, and it’s increasingly easy to believe Hunter Biden shouldn’t try to run for elected office anytime soon, but Republicans were forced to concede that, despite their best efforts, they still didn’t have any evidence of corruption on Joe Biden’s part.

The Times’ report added, “[T]heir presentation underscored how little headway top G.O.P. lawmakers have made in finding clear evidence of questionable transactions they can tie to Mr. Biden, their chief political rival.”

Others soon noticed. The New Republic ran a related piece with a similar headline: “Republicans Finally Admit They Have No Incriminating Evidence on Joe Biden.” The article marveled at the fact that Comer and his team have “nothing to show for” their work.

Politico, meanwhile, reported that Comer’s failed presentation “raised fresh questions” about Republicans’ ability “to ultimately capture their white whale: the president himself.”

I liked the literary metaphor, though it’s not entirely parallel: When Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab hunted Moby Dick, the whale in the story actually existed. Comer, in contrast, is desperately searching for anti-Biden evidence he’ll never be able to find, because there is no such evidence.

Why does all of this matter? In part because of the degree to which the Oversight Committee chairman has proven the opposite of his intended point: Comer and his team set out to make the president look like a criminal, and by failing spectacularly, Biden has effectively been given a clean bill of political health by a group of far-right partisans.

What’s more, let’s also not forget that yesterday’s debacle was the latest in a series of fiascos for misguided GOP committee chairmen with axes to grind.

And finally, as a worthwhile Washington Post analysis explained, the more the Oversight Committee looks for evidence of a presidential family influenced by foreign money, the worse they make Donald Trump appear.

I have no reason to believe Comer will change course anytime soon, but for the sake of what’s left of his reputation, the Kentucky congressman should probably think twice before calling another press conference.