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Republicans have won the House. Now, they're promising to investigate the Bidens

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., is poised to take the gavel as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee if Republicans take control of the House in January. They are expected to hold a narrow majority and launch wide ranging probes of the Biden administration.
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Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., is poised to take the gavel as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee if Republicans take control of the House in January. They are expected to hold a narrow majority and launch wide ranging probes of the Biden administration.

Two top House Republicans — Rep. James Comer and Rep. Jim Jordan — who are expected to chair the House Oversight and Judiciary committees next year are planning to lay out the evidence they say they have gathered from whistleblowers that show President Biden's son, Hunter, engaged in influence peddling and his father, potentially while serving as vice president, may have benefitted financially.

In a press conference on Thursday, Comer accused the Biden family of defrauding the United States, tax evasion, violating several laws and money laundering, among other accusations.

"The president's participation in enriching his family is, in a word, abuse of the highest order," Comer said. "I want to be clear: This is an investigation of Joe Biden, and that's where our focus will be next Congress."

Ahead of the press conference Comer said the evidence has never been "packaged together" and that his intention with laying out the information was to "make it very clear that from this point on, this is no longer the Hunter Biden investigation. This is the Joe Biden investigation." He called Hunter Biden a "corrupt national security threat" — claiming his panel has evidence of relationships with Chinese, Russian and Ukrainian officials.

On Thursday, Comer also sent letters to the heads at the National Archives and Records Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Treasury Department requesting documents on the Biden family's business negotiations domestic and abroad. He also sent letters requesting information regarding the relationship and communication between Eric Schwerin, Edward Prewitt and Georges Bergès, who allegedly had business dealings and management with the Biden family.

The White House shot back, calling the investigation a conspiracy theory.

"Instead of working with President Biden to address issues important to the American people, like lower costs, congressional Republicans' top priority is to go after President Biden with politically-motivated attacks chock full of long-debunked conspiracy theories," said White House spokesperson Ian Sams. "President Biden is not going to let these political attacks distract him from focusing on Americans' priorities, and we hope congressional Republicans will join us in tackling them instead of wasting time and resources on political revenge."

Hunter Biden's role in a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, was discussed in then-President Trump's first impeachment probe — and it came up in Trump's phone call in September 2019 to the newly elected Ukrainian president. President Trump pressed for an investigation into his then 2020 presidential rival, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, in his discussion with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about additional aid for Ukraine.

Republicans are expected to hold a slim majority, a much different outcome than top GOP leaders forecasted in a "red wave" that failed to materialize. Comer admitted he expected his party would win more seats, but as for his planned investigations he said nothing has changed — "full steam ahead."

Without providing evidence, promising it will come Thursday, Comer said the president was looped in on actions by Hunter that he called "influence peddling" and described it as lobbying foreign governments without registering, as required by law. He told NPR the panel believes "that there's ample evidence to prove that Joe Biden knew about Hunter's shady business dealings" and said "we believe he may have been involved financially in some of those business dealings, but at the very least, we believe we need to investigate to see if these shady business deals have compromised this White House."

Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, a senior Democrat on the Oversight panel who is running to serve as the ranking Democrat next year, called the planned GOP probe about the Biden family "a tired and worn playbook by the Republicans." He pointed to previous investigations when the GOP controlled the House during the Obama administration into the attack in Benghazi and the probe into the so-called Fast and Furious investigation that dealt with a gun trafficking operation that failed, saying they "went nowhere."

He said his committee "will be at the front line of all of the battlegrounds. And we need to be prepared and disciplined that focused and strategically organized to not only respond to that, but to take the fight to them, to expose fabrications, to expose distortions, to expose character assassination for what it is."

At a recent press conference President Biden was asked about GOP investigations into his son and his family's business dealings, and dismissed them, saying, "lots of luck in your senior year, as my coach used to say." He noted some Republicans were pushing impeachment proceedings against him and said he didn't think Americans would support them, calling the effort "almost comedy."

Comer told NPR on Wednesday that Biden has said publicly he never met some of his son's associates, but his investigation has produced photos, emails and bank records. He suggested that some of the evidence shows that bank accounts between Hunter and his father were "co-mingled." Comer said Jordan will show how whistleblowers brought evidence about improper financial dealings to the FBI and DOJ but they didn't pursue any investigations.

Comer said "there's a very good possibility" that Hunter Biden will get a subpoena, but the committee wants to talk to whistleblowers in transcribed interviews first.

The Kentucky Republican compared Hunter Biden's business dealings to those of Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general who served briefly as President Trump's national security advisor. Flynn had to resign after it was revealed he communicated with the Russian ambassador during the transition period between the Obama and Trump presidencies. He also lobbied for the Turkish government while advising the Trump campaign.

Comer said he doesn't believe some in the media understand "the severity of the crimes" he alleges Hunter Biden has committed.

Asked if the White House is prepared for the aggressive investigations that will come under a GOP House, Connolly admitted, "I don't think anyone can be prepared for the onslaught that is likely to take place." He said he hopes to recruit Democrats who have prosecutorial or court room experience to serve on the panel.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.
Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.