It was nearly seven weeks ago when House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer suggested he’d finally uncovered real and meaningful evidence against President Joe Biden. At long last, the public was supposed to believe, the Kentucky Republican was ready to deliver the goods.
Sure, Comer had made promises he couldn’t keep. And sure, he’d held hearings that undermined his own partisan efforts. And sure, he’d released ostensible “evidence” filled with factual errors. And sure, he’d been caught repeatedly lying. And sure, even other Republicans had grown frustrated by Comer’s flailing crusade. But, in mid-October, the GOP congressman was ready to turn things around with an amazing announcement.
What Comer had uncovered was proof that Biden — in his personal capacity, two years after serving as vice president — loaned his brother some money. Then, his brother paid him back. That was it. That was the story.
The one thing politicians try to avoid when drumming up a scandal is boring revelations — and this was downright dull.
Yesterday, he did it again.
Comer’s office alerted journalists to bank records showing Hunter Biden’s firm making monthly payments to Joe Biden in 2018, and according to the Oversight Committee chair, the payments reflected “a pattern revealing Joe Biden knew about, participated in and benefited from his family’s influence-peddling schemes.” A Washington Post report explained soon after that there was a far more anodyne explanation:
The three payments of $1,380 that occurred in September, October and November 2018 — nearly two years after Biden had left the vice presidency — were actually for a 2018 Ford Raptor truck Joe Biden had purchased that Hunter Biden was using, according to an email verified by a Washington Post forensic analysis.
The article added that Comer had “again mischaracterized evidence of payments from Hunter Biden to his father.”
“The truth is Hunter’s father helped him when he was struggling financially due to his addiction and could not secure credit to finance a truck,” Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement. “When Hunter was able to, he paid his father back and took over the payments himself.”
Why should the public care about this? It shouldn’t. That’s the point. Comer has produced another dud, coming on the heels of months’ worth of other duds.
Axios reported in September that Comer “has repeatedly exaggerated and distorted the findings of his investigation into the Biden family.” The report added that the Republican has “at times undermined his credibility” by “overstating his committee’s findings.” The same week, a Washington Post analysis took a closer look at comments Comer made during a conservative media interview, concluding that he made “a number of claims that were unsupported by publicly available evidence, contradicted by other parties or obviously false.”
I realize that House GOP leaders are poised to advance their impeachment crusade against the president, indifferent to the fact that they’ve found no incriminating evidence whatsoever. But as the process moves forward, fair-minded observers should understand that the campaign is being led in large part by a chairman who's found nothing.
It's tempting to compare Comer to the boy who cried wolf, but the parallels are imprecise: The boy in the story who'd destroyed his credibility eventually saw an actual wolf. The Kentucky congressman, in contrast, will almost certainly never present incriminating evidence against the president — apparently because there is no such evidence to find.