Inside Kevin McCarthy’s math problem to becoming Speaker

Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated the vote count for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) nomination in 2019.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has a math problem. 

He won the House GOP’s nomination to be Speaker this week in a 188-31 vote. 

But far more GOP members voted against him than he can afford to lose on the floor Jan. 3 in a vote that would officially elect him Speaker. A vocal faction of Republicans who have the potential to make or break his Speakership continue to withhold support. 

Recent 2022 election projections put Republicans on track to win up to 222 seats, a much slimmer majority than they were expecting before Election Day. Just a handful of Republican defectors could sink McCarthy. 

“The hard thing for Kevin, realistically, is there are a fair number of people who have said very publicly they're ‘Never Kevin.’ Like, there's nothing that Kevin can do to get their vote,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), who declined to share his own thinking on McCarthy.   

Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the former chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus who challenged McCarthy for the Speaker nomination, have outright pledged not to vote for McCarthy on the House floor. 

But other critics of McCarthy aren’t going quite that far.  

The questions are, how many skeptics can he sway to his side? What do they want in return? And, who could the alternative be? 

McCarthy has projected confidence that he will win the votes he needs by January. He noted that former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was nominated 200-43 in 2015 before winning 236 votes the next day on the floor, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was nominated 203-32 before winning 220 on the House floor in 2019. Both Pelosi and Ryan, however, had more substantial majorities. 

“Look, we have our work cut out for us. We've got to have a small majority. We've got to listen to everybody in our conference,” McCarthy said in a press conference after clinching the closed-door nomination.  

His supporters also note that some who voted against McCarthy via secret ballot will not want to be on the record publicly opposing him in January. But skeptics are pushing back. 

“The Leader does not have 218 votes,” said Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the current chair of the Freedom Caucus. “It is becoming increasingly perilous as we move forward.” 

The magic number 

McCarthy does not necessarily need 218 floor votes to win the Speakership, however. It is a technical point that may affect his road to the gavel with such a narrow margin. 

A House Speaker needs to win a majority of votes of those casting a ballot for a candidate. That means unforeseen circumstances on everything from the coronavirus pandemic to the weather can make the difference.  

Pelosi won the Speakership last year with 216 votes, due to vacancies and absences. Former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) also won the Speakership with just 216 votes in 2015, when 25 members did not vote. Snowy weather kept some members away, and many Democrats were attending a funeral for the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D). 

A Congressional Research Service report also notes that “present” votes also lower the final number needed to win, with current House practice dictating that the Speaker needs to win a majority “voting by surname.”  

Some House Republicans, then, could opt to vote “present” rather than for either McCarthy or an alternative candidate without jeopardizing McCarthy’s path to the gavel. 

But there is no guarantee that members opposed to McCarthy will give him that leeway. Gaetz has said he will vote for someone else in January. 

Demands for rules and vision 

The House Freedom Caucus over the summer released a list of rule change demands for both the House GOP Conference and the House as a whole that aim to reduce the power of leadership and distribute more of it to individual members. 

“I refuse to elect the same people utilizing the same rules that keep us from – members like me from participating,” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) said on former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon’s “War Room” show. 

House Republicans began considering changes to their internal rules last week, and in a response to the push to decentralize power, McCarthy said after the meeting that the conference increased the number of representative regions from 13 to 19. The move affects the power in the House GOP steering committee, the body of members that control committee assignments and chairmanships. 

“The regional maps we just did, pushing the power further down to more regions, more to the conference itself,” McCarthy said, which “dilutes the power greater to the members” on the steering committee. 

The House GOP also passed an amendment from Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) that prohibits members of the House Republican Conference steering committee from sitting on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s executive committee — with an exception for elected members of the House GOP conference. 

But other proposals from Freedom Caucus members were shot down, and some did not leave the session happy. 

“I was disappointed about how the rules meeting was conducted,” Perry said, adding that other members and representatives-elect were “aghast at how that meeting was conducted and the product that came out of it.” 

“Unless something changes, they should get used to that, because the tenor of that meeting was exactly what I've experienced throughout my time in Congress,” Perry added. 

And for some members still withholding support from McCarthy, the rules are not the only factor in their decision. 

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said he wants commitments on a federal budget. Biggs has expressed disappointment that McCarthy will not commit to impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Others stress the need for strong leadership and vision without offering many specifics. 

If not McCarthy, then who? 

As the saying goes in politics, you can’t beat somebody with nobody, and those opposed to McCarthy lack a viable alternative. 

Biggs imagines that by Jan. 3, there will be more of a consensus candidate, and that it might not be him. 

“I can think of probably 20 people who nobody's mad at ever,” Biggs said, throwing out Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) as a suggestion. “I don't think people get mad at him too often.” 

Johnson was reelected to be vice chair of the House GOP and has shown no interest in being an alternative Speaker candidate. 

Some conservatives have suggested Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding Freedom Caucus member who challenged McCarthy for GOP Leader in 2018. But Jordan, who is likely to chair the House Judiciary Committee, has thrown his support behind McCarthy. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), once a doubter of McCarthy’s ability to become Speaker, has become one of his most vocal supporters for the post.  

She has warned that moderate Republicans could join Democrats and elect a compromise moderate Speaker. McCarthy skeptics have dismissed that prospect as a “red herring.” McCarthy has also said he will not seek Democratic votes to be Speaker. 

Greene said she would lobby her right-wing colleagues to support McCarthy, and on Friday, she said that the number of members not supporting McCarthy are “going down some, which is a good sign.” 

“I really feel like our conference needs to be unified. We need to support Kevin McCarthy and we need to lead in such a way that we show the American people that the Republicans have their act together,” Greene said. 

--Updated at 8:06 a.m.

House Democrats assess a transformed Washington after losing majority

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly characterized Hunter Biden.

House Democrats were knocked out of power at the polls this month, losing at least six seats to a Republican Party that will take control of the lower chamber next year with designs to neutralize President Biden through the second half of his first term.

CNN and NBC both projected that Republicans would take the House majority on Wednesday evening, with a handful of races still to be decided. Republicans could still win several more seats, but they are expected to have a very narrow majority.

The GOP takeover had been expected long before last week’s midterm elections, but it took eight days of counting close returns for Republicans to hit the magic number — 218 — that grants them control of the House in the next Congress.

The delay was an unwelcome development for GOP leaders, who charged into the elections with high expectations of sweeping vulnerable Democrats from battleground districts coast to coast. Their victory celebration was scheduled for election night, on Nov. 8. 

Instead, a vast majority of those Democratic “frontliners” held firm. And many of the races Republicans ultimately won were so close that verification took days. The surprising results mean that Republicans will take over the chamber next year with a much smaller majority than they had hoped — a dynamic that will likely create headaches for GOP leaders in managing a restive right flank.

Indeed, those internal struggles already surfaced this week surrounding Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) bid to win the Speakership next year. On Tuesday, McCarthy easily won the GOP nomination for that spot. But the three dozen Republican defectors were both a warning that he has work to do in order to secure the gavel when the full House votes on Jan. 3, and a preview of the internal battles to come, regardless of which Republican emerges as Speaker. 

Still, the midterm outcome lends enormous new powers to Republicans on Capitol Hill, transforming the workings of Washington after four years when Democrats ran the lower chamber. And the flip carries enormous implications for both parties heading into the final two years of Biden’s first term in the White House.

Most significantly, the president will no longer have his allies empowered to advance the administration’s legislative goals on the House floor, likely bringing Biden’s ambitious policy agenda to a screeching halt next year. 

Nor will Democrats be able to shield Biden on the committee level, where Republicans are already promising a long and growing list of politically fraught investigations into everything from the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to the overseas business dealings of the president’s youngest son Hunter Biden. 

Democrats are keenly aware of the potential political perils lurking behind such investigations. The House Republicans’ marathon Benghazi probe undermined Hillary Clinton’s prospects in the 2016 presidential race. And a steady focus on Biden controversies in the next Congress could do similar damage to the president and the Democrats heading into the 2024 cycle, when former President Trump could be on the ballot. 

And Republicans might not stop at mere investigations. 

Democrats, who had impeached Trump twice during his tenure, might find themselves on the other side of that issue under a GOP-controlled House, where conservatives are already making clear their intentions to impeach Biden, members of his Cabinet or both.

The midterm results also put a new spin on the old questions swirling around the future of the Democratic leaders in the lower chamber, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and her top two deputies — Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and James Clyburn (S.C.) — have been in place for almost two decades. All three are in their 80s, and a younger group of ambitious lawmakers has been itching for years for the chance to climb into the leadership ranks. 

Four years ago, Pelosi had pledged to bow out of the top leadership spot at the end of this term — a promise Hoyer and Clyburn were not party to. But the Democrats’ overperformance on Election Day would have been impossible without Pelosi’s prodigious fundraising, and it’s sparked new chatter that the long-time Democratic leader could easily remain in power — if she chooses to do so.

The Speaker, true to style, has declined to announce her intentions. And the Democrats’ leadership elections are not scheduled until Nov. 30, lending her a window to weigh that decision. Still, the new midterm tally, sending Democrats into the minority next year, is expected to expedite her announcement. 

MeanwhilePelosi’s reticence has left other top leaders in a state of limbo, waiting for word of her plans so they can declare their own. 

Neither Hoyer nor Clyburn has ruled out another leadership bid. And a trio of younger Democratic leaders — Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Katherine Clark (Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (Calif.) — are waiting to run for the top spots when the opportunity arrives. 

Jeffries, the current chair of the Democratic Caucus, is widely believed to be the favorite to replace Pelosi should she step down. But Hoyer has loyalists of his own. And Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who built a national following as lead manager of Trump’s first impeachment, has raised enormous amounts of money this cycle and is said to be eyeing the spot. 

Other Democrats vying for leadership positions include Rep. Joe Neguse (Colo.), who’s seeking to replace Jeffries as Caucus chairman. And at least four lawmakers — Reps. Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio), Ted Lieu (Calif.) and Madeleine Dean (Pa.) — are competing to replace Aguilar as caucus vice chairman. 

Rounding out the list of top leaders, Rep. Tony Cárdenas (Calif.) has launched a run to lead the Democrats’ campaign arm in the next Congress, a spot soon to be vacated after Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney lost a tough reelection race in upstate New York. 

Rep. Ami Bera (Calif.), who was in charge of protecting vulnerable incumbents for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) this cycle, is expected to jump into the race against Cárdenas. 

There are other changes in store, as well. 

The Democrats’ 2023 roster was bound to look much different even long before the midterm results came in, due to a wave of retirements that featured some of the leading figures in the party. 

The list of outgoing lawmakers includes Reps. Pete DeFazio (Ore.), a 36-year veteran who heads the Transportation Committee; John Yarmuth (Ky.), chairman of the Budget Committee; Cheri Bustos (Ill.), who led the DCCC in the 2020 cycle; Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), a member of the Jan. 6 committee investigating last year’s attack on the Capitol and a co-chair of the centrist Blue Dogs; and Bobby Rush (Ill.), a 30-year veteran who remains the only politician ever to defeat Barack Obama in an election. 

The midterms also took a toll. And when they return next year, Democrats will be without several prominent lawmakers who lost reelection battles on Tuesday. That list includes Reps. Elaine Luria (Va.), another member of the Jan. 6 committee; Tom Malinowski (N.J.), a former human rights activist and diplomat under the Obama administration; and Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), a Republican-turned-moderate Democrat who also co-chairs the Blue Dogs. 

Yet it was Maloney who was the biggest trophy for Republicans at the polls. The 10-year veteran proved highly successful in protecting vulnerable seats in a cycle when Democrats were expecting big losses, but he couldn’t protect his own. 

"It will take time to understand all of the races and their outcomes,” Maloney told reporters in Washington shortly after conceding to his Republican opponent. But even in defeat, he took a small victory lap. 

“If we fall a little short, we're going to know that we gave it our all,” he said. “And we beat the spread.”

--Updated on Nov. 17 at 6:12 a.m.

Europe relaxes after US midterms, but fears of a 2024 Trump win run high

America’s allies in Europe breathed a sigh of relief as the U.S. midterm contests come to a close. U.S. allies believe slimmer margins of control between Democrats and Republicans in Congress will not jeopardize American support to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.  

From Kyiv to Berlin and Tbilisi, Georgia, fears that a larger Republican majority would move the U.S. back into the isolationist mindset of the Trump presidency were squashed. But the international community will be closely watching what a likely divided government means for President Biden’s leadership role among allies. 

But even amid European relief, a group of Republicans largely backed by former President Trump still put the fate of U.S. support to Ukraine increasingly under strain. 

The United States is the largest supplier of military and economic assistance to Ukraine, and Europeans are bracing for a potential Trump comeback after the former president teased announcing a 2024 run. 

“I think there's kind of a bit of a relief, especially in Europe … that the march of MAGA Republicanism, Trumpism seems to have stopped in its tracks a bit,” said Matthias Matthijs, senior fellow for Europe at the Council on Foreign Relations. “That’s at least the interpretation here. That this is not a foregone conclusion that 2024 will result in some sort of isolationist presidency again.” 

Khatia Dekanoidze, an opposition lawmaker from Georgia, told The Hill that the Georgian public are “interested in who will be winning in the House and who will be running the Senate and what the balance is, what would be decided regarding Ukrainian support.” 

“Also it’s very interesting from the people’s perspective, will Trump be back? It’s a very common question,” she added.  

Yevgen Korniychuck, Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, told The Hill that Kyiv is watching closely the “minority of pro-Trump” Republicans, raising concern that “they are not really happy with support of Ukraine.” 

“But the full majority will be in support, I’m sure. This is the most important for us,” he said.  

Europeans are also paying close attention to the presidential aspirations of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has increasingly come under attacks from Trump, signaling his outsized influence in the GOP.  

“Ron DeSantis has arrived as a name in the German press,” said Peter Rough, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute with a focus on Europe.   

“[The Germans] say Ron DeSantis may be even more dangerous than Trump because he can actually implement and execute his policies, unlike DJT [Donald J. Trump]. ‘Trump but with a brain,’ they said last night on the [German] prime-time talk show I was on.” 

Europeans welcomed Biden's focus on improving the transatlantic relationship that was made a target by Trump, who threatened to pull out of NATO, antagonized leaders in Germany and France and embraced far-right outliers like Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orbán.  

“There’s no question that folks in Europe do wonder what’s going to happen in 2024,” said Marjorie Chorlins, senior vice president for Europe at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “They do see the more hawkish, less pro-transatlantic rhetoric that came out of the last administration as a problem and that there’s a risk that’s going to come back.”  

Chorlins said that Europeans welcome closer cooperation with the U.S., and are looking to leverage the unity Biden rallied in support for Ukraine — coordinating sanctions against Moscow and pooling military and economic assistance for Kyiv — to address other aspects of the American relationship with the European Union.  

“The question is whether we can leverage the unity that we found around Ukraine and Russia, and take that energy and apply it in other ways,” she said.   

Biden, in a post-midterm-election press conference on Wednesday, said that the “vast majority” of allies are looking to cooperate when asked how other world leaders should view this moment for the U.S., with Trump teasing another presidential run. 

Biden further warned against isolationism that Trump had embraced. 

“What I find is that they want to know: Is the United States stable? Do we know what we’re about? Are we the same democracy we've always been?” the president said. “Because, look, the rest of the world looks to us. … If the United States tomorrow were to, quote, ‘withdraw from the world,’ a lot of things would change around the world.” 

Emily Horne, former National Security Council spokesperson and special assistant to Biden, called the midterm elections the dog that didn’t bark for European allies and partners. 

“There’s some temporary relief now, but not on the bigger question of 2024 and whether Trump or someone like him could come back and derail so much of the progress that we have been able to make together with Europe, not just on Ukraine, but on everything from getting COVID under control to preparing for future pandemics to tackling climate change,” said Horne, founder of Allegro Public Affairs. 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) who could become the next House Speaker, raised eyebrows last month when he said Republicans would scrutinize aid to Ukraine if they have a majority, comments he has since tried to defend as oversight rather than a lack of support for Ukraine.  

Biden on Wednesday said he is optimistic that funding and bipartisan support for Ukraine would continue, adding that he would be surprised if there’s a majority of Republicans who are unwilling to help.  

Horne argued that it would be a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin if a Republican-led House puts a halt to the flow of munitions to Ukrainians. She added that while McCarthy knows the consequences of such a move, it comes down to the others in his camp. 

“The question is, can he control the actors in his caucus that care more about their Twitter sound bites than doing the right thing by both U.S. security interests in Europe and the Ukrainian people?” Horne said.  

But, she added, there is an understanding among allies that “there are individuals who get a lot of airtime who actually have very little sway over what’s in the policy that goes forward for the president's signature.” 

Allies worry about other aspects of a Republican majority in Congress and how it could impact Biden’s overall focus on the war in Ukraine and foreign policy issues like climate and China. 

With a potential Republican majority in the House, there is a concern among Europeans that GOP-led investigations into Biden could distract him from international affairs, Matthijs said. 

“There is worry in Europe that Biden will now be distracted by a House that will make his life miserable. That all we’re going to hear about is Hunter Biden’s laptop and these kinds of fake impeachment proceedings against the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, Tony Fauci, you name it,” he said. 

But, he said that Europeans feel “slightly better” about the U.S. overall after the midterm elections. 

“It doesn't mean much will change right away because of this election, but at least it's a very helpful reminder, I think, to a lot of people in Europe that the U.S. is capable of self-correction when it goes too much in one direction,” he said. 

Marjorie Taylor Greene glides to reelection

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is projected to easily win reelection on Tuesday, fending off a challenge from Democrat Marcus Flowers, an Army veteran, to secure a second term in Georgia’s deep-red 14th Congressional District.

The Associated Press called the race at 8:55 p.m.

In just two years on Capitol Hill, Greene has solidified her place as one of Congress’s most prominent — and controversial — conservative voices, building a national right-wing following for her opposition to COVID-19 restrictions, her endorsement of Christian nationalism and her avid support for former President Trump, to include the promotion of his false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who was projected to win a second term in the House, has become one of the loudest, most controversial conservative voices on Capitol Hill. (Greg Nash)

Greene’s provocations came with a political price: Just a month after she arrived in Washington, the House voted to strip her of her committee assignments in response to revelations that she had previously promoted a long series of conspiracy theories, including QAnon, as well as violence against Democrats, including the idea of assassinating Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

All the attention has made Greene one of the most polarizing figures on Capitol Hill. And Tuesday’s race took on outsized national dimensions as donors from around the country showered money on both candidates, making it the single most expensive House race of the 2022 cycle, according to OpenSecrets.

Flowers benefited most from all the attention, hauling in more than $15 million — an enormous number that reflected the appetite among national Democrats to defeat the figure who, perhaps more than any other congressional Republican, has come to exemplify the GOP’s populist turn under Trump.

In the end, it didn’t matter. The conservative district, where 68 percent of voters chose Trump in 2020, sided with Greene.

Greene has had a contentious relationship with her own Republican leadership, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). (Greg Nash)

Back in Congress, Greene will be closely watched next year. While a darling of the right, she has also been an outspoken critic of her own Republican leadership, particularly House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who is in line for the Speakership if the House changes hands. 

McCarthy has taken long steps this year to get into Greene’s good graces. But the tensions linger, and McCarthy will have to walk a delicate line if Greene and other far-right lawmakers press GOP leaders to advance a host of conservative demands, including the impeachment of President Biden and members of his Cabinet. 

House GOP prepares to sharpen focus on Hunter Biden business dealings

House Republicans are wasting little time jumping headfirst into probes involving the business dealings of President Biden’s son Hunter Biden and the Biden family if they win a majority in next week’s midterm elections.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, the panel set to lead the probes if the GOP formally takes control of the chamber next year, are planning a press conference about their investigation into the Bidens the week after the election. 

Their goal is to question whether President Biden’s leadership has been impacted by his family’s business dealings — and to steer clear of the more salacious content on the infamous hard drive that belonged to Hunter Biden, a recovering drug addict.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), ranking member on the House Oversight Committee who is likely to chair the panel in a GOP majority, has long been preparing for hearings and advancing investigations into the Biden family businesses. Republican staff members on the panel have a copy of Hunter Biden’s hard drive and have been poring over it for months.

Comer, in a statement to The Hill, blasted the Biden family for alleged influence peddling and raised concerns about the deals conflicting with U.S. interests.

“If Joe Biden is compromised by his family’s business schemes, it is a threat to our national security,” Comer said.

The White House declined to comment on the House GOP probes, but the Biden campaign in 2020 said the then-candidate “has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever.”

Hunter Biden and Biden family business activities have been a longtime focus of Republicans on Capitol Hill, the right-wing media and former President Trump, whose request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine led to Trump’s first impeachment. 

There has also been longtime interest in Hunter Biden across the Capitol. 

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has made several floor speeches about Biden family business dealings, and has sent letters alleging that he has received information from whistleblowers about the family’s business activities.

Democrats on the Hill have dismissed the GOP probe as part of a larger obsession with the Biden family. House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y) has previously called GOP efforts “nakedly partisan.”

But in a House GOP majority, Republicans would have more power to probe new lines of interest about the family’s business matters, and potentially put them on public display if the panel holds hearings as Comer has promised.

At the top of the GOP to-do list on the matter is obtaining suspicious activity reports from the Treasury Department connected to transactions from the president’s son and his associates. 

CBS News reported in April that U.S. banks flagged for review more than 150 financial transactions related to the business affairs of either Hunter or James Biden, the president’s brother.

The reports do not necessarily mean illegal activity occurred, as Republicans have sometimes suggested, and only a small percentage of the millions of reports from banks filed each year lead to law enforcement investigations. 

Banks are required to file suspicious activity reports about transfers of amounts of at least $5,000, or $2,000 for money services businesses, if there is reason to suspect the funds came from illegal activity. They must also file currency transaction reports for any transaction exceeding $10,000.

But Republicans on the House Oversight Committee argue more information on the transactions are needed to know whether President Biden financially benefited from his family’s business transactions, alleging that the possibility could create national security concerns. 

Meanwhile, few, if any, House Republicans have expressed much in the way of national security concerns when it came to Trump’s company business dealings while he was in the White House. And when an FBI search uncovered classified documents, some marked top secret, from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in possible violation of the Espionage Act, Republicans expressed more concern about alleged politicization of the Justice Department than about national security.

The Treasury Department in September denied requests from House Oversight Republicans to provide the reports on the Biden family. Comer has promised to use the power that comes with the committee gavel to obtain them should his party gain the majority next year.

Republicans have multiple areas they are interested in regarding the Biden family businesses, including dealings with a Chinese energy conglomerate and whether that relationship created any conflicts of interest with President Biden.

A Washington Post investigation of Hunter Biden’s arrangement with CEFC China Energy found no evidence that President Biden personally benefited from the transactions or knew about the details, though House Republicans think there is information that indicates otherwise.

There has already been outside interest from the right wing in the House Oversight GOP probe.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to create a House select committee dedicated to investigating Biden business dealings. Conservative commentator and former Trump White House adviser Sebastian Gorka has offered to be staff director of the theoretical committee. 

But there is no sign McCarthy would create a special panel, and Comer has asked Republicans to give the Oversight committee a chance to roll out its planned hearings.

An investigation by the FBI that is reportedly being reviewed by prosecutors could bring more focus and heat onto Hunter Biden if any charges are made.

The Washington Post first reported last month that investigators believed that there was sufficient evidence to charge Hunter Biden with crimes relating to whether he did not declare income on various business ventures, and with making a false statement about his drug use on a federal form when he bought a handgun in 2018, when he has said he was actively using crack cocaine.

Attorneys for Hunter Biden did not respond to requests for comment.