House GOP targets attorney general after failing to dig up dirt on Biden

The House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee are holding hearings Thursday to consider holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Department of Justice has refused to provide recordings of special counsel Robert Hur’s interviews with President Joe Biden and his ghostwriter in the classified documents probe, having already provided the transcripts of those interviews. 

The outcome of these meetings isn’t in question; committee chairs Jim Jordan and James Comer will push the contempt vote to the House floor. They remain intent on finding anything that they can use to impeach Biden and/or members of his administration, and they won’t let the fact that their efforts so far have been ridiculous stop them. 

It took them two tries to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, only for the Senate to swat it away. The star witness in their Biden impeachment case turned out to be a Russian mole. And they’ve already been down the road of trying to use Hur’s report to prove Biden unfit for office—a game that Hur refused to play in Jordan’s disastrous hearing. But no embarrassing defeat is going to stop them.

“These audio recordings are important to our investigation of President Biden’s willful retention of classified documents and his fitness to be President of the United States,” Comer said in a press release. 

The DOJ has in fact been providing information to Comer and Jordan. In February, it even gave them access to two of the classified documents Biden had from his time as vice president, which Comer insisted were critical to his investigations. 

But Comer “has not yet taken us up on our offer,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote in refusing the team’s subpoena for more information. 

Uriarte detailed all of the information they had provided in response to their demands and subpoenas in his initial letter to Jordan and Comer in April and concluded “we are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

In his second letter to the chairs, Uriarte reiterated that point.

“It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it,” he wrote. “[T]he Committees’ inability to identify a need for these audio files grounded in legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

The purpose, of course, is having audio and video that they can chop up to show Biden unfavorably in their televised hearings. They got the transcripts for their hearing with Hur, but they didn’t find anything, so of course they’re doubling down. It’s Jordan and Comer—what else are they going to do?

But this latest sham does at least give Democrats on the committees yet another opportunity to own Republicans in the hearings.

RELATED STORIES:

Democrats are blowing up House GOP efforts to take down Biden

The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

House GOP manufactures new fight after Biden impeachment fails

Ian Bassin is the former associate White House counsel and co-founder and executive director of Protect Democracy. Protect Democracy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group focused on anti-authoritarianism, how to protect our democracy, and safeguarding our free and fair elections.

Campaign Action

House GOP manufactures new fight after Biden impeachment fails

House Republicans’ attempt to impeach President Joe Biden has fizzled out. But the two members tasked with the job, Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and Oversight Chair James Comer,  needing to atone for their failure, have picked another fight: threatening to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over the Department of Justice’s refusal to provide the audio recordings of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur in the classified documents probe. 

Garland is refusing to play their game. 

On Thursday, the DOJ refused for a second time to provide that audio, arguing that it has complied in full with the committees’ subpoenas for information. It provided both the transcription of the Biden interview as well as Hur’s interview with Biden’s ghostwriter Mark Zwonitzer for Jordan’s big disaster of a hearing. Two months ago, it even gave Jordan and Comer access to two of the classified documents, which Comer insisted were critical to his investigations. 

But Comer “has not yet taken us up on our offer,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte wrote.

In Uriarte’s first letter to Jordan and Comer earlier this month, he detailed all of the information they had provided in response to their demands and subpoenas. 

“The Committees’ reaction is difficult to explain in terms of any lack of information or frustration of any informational or investigative imperative, given the Department’s actual conduct,” Uriarte wrote. “We are therefore concerned that the Committees are disappointed not because you didn’t receive information, but because you did.”

Uriarte reiterated that point Thursday. 

“It seems that the more information you receive, the less satisfied you are, and the less justification you have for contempt, the more you rush towards it,” he wrote. “[T]he Committees’ inability to identify a need for these audio files grounded in legislative or impeachment purposes raises concerns about what other purposes they might serve.”

Those purposes are clearly political. They need to keep up the fight against Biden and are scrambling for whatever they can get. They also probably believe that the audio of the interview could be damaging to Biden. Hur’s report included gratuitous hits about Biden’s age and mental acuity, so Jordan and Comer want to play it during their hearings, knowing that the media would eat that up

Uriarte outlined the DOJ’s concern about that, writing that it would impinge on Biden’s privacy and that “courts have recognized the privacy interest in one’s voice—including tone, pauses, emotional reactions, and cues—is distinct from the privacy interest in a written transcript of one’s conversation.”

He also implied that Comer and Jordan can’t be trusted with the audio, writing that it could be manipulated by “cutting, erasing, and splicing.” 

That’s a safe assumption on Uriarte’s part.

After basically crying “uncle” on impeaching Biden on influence peddling, being humiliated over their Alejandro Mayorkas impeachment stunt, and losing on Ukraine and government funding, Jordan and Comer are itching for revenge.

But the DOJ has called them on it

“The Committees have demanded information you know we have principled reasons to protect, and then accused us of obstruction for upholding those principles,” Uriarte wrote. “This deepens our concern that the Committees may be seeking conflict for conflict’s sake.”

RELATED STORIES:

The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

House GOP to launch critical investigation into just how old Biden is

The New York Times is determined to make 'but his age' the new 'but her emails'

Here's one way to avoid dealing with election results you don't like: just wipe them from the record books. It's not Orwell—it's Arizona, and we're talking all about it on this week's episode of "The Downballot." This fall, voters have the chance to deny new terms to two conservative Supreme Court justices, but a Republican amendment would retroactively declare those elections null and void—and all but eliminate the system Arizona has used to evaluate judges for 50 years. We're going to guess voters won't like this one bit … if it even makes it to the ballot in the first place.

Campaign Action

ICYMI: House GOP’s ready to admit defeat, Tennessee wants teachers packing heat

The Supreme Court is hearing another abortion case. What could go wrong?

It’s just people’s lives on the line.

GOP lawmakers vote to arm teachers a year after Nashville shooting

Protesters in the galleries chanted “blood on your hands!”

Cartoon: Cell-a-Lago

Some things change, but others stay the same.

Missouri lawmaker caught on video cursing out fellow Republican

You’ll never guess what his defense is.

New ad: Trump couldn’t get hired at a mall—not with his legal baggage

As much as we’d love to see Trump working at Cinnabon …

QAnon nuts muse about what happens if Trump is found guilty 

It’s not pretty.

97% of voters know nothing about the Supreme Court's new abortion case

The law at the center of the case this week is a mystery to most—and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

There’s only so much humiliation a party can take.

History’s most pro-union president delivers 2 more big wins for workers  

Yet another reason to support Joe Biden.

One big move just upended two big Virginia races

Things just got even more competitive.

Click here to see more cartoons.

Campaign Action

The Biden impeachment is a huge failure. The GOP is looking for a way out

After 15 months of trying to pull a Biden family crime spree out of thin air, lead impeachment zealot James Comer has watched his dreams of MAGA glory crumble into dust. Comer, the House Oversight Committee chair, told a Republican colleague that he’s ready to be “done with” the whole fiasco, according to CNN

“Comer is hoping Jesus comes so he can get out. He is fed up,” another GOP lawmaker said.

There’s just so much humiliation one man can take, I guess. The effort by Comer and co-zealot Jim Jordan, chair of the Judiciary Committee, to find dirt on President Joe Biden and his son Hunter has ended up with the two coated in mud. It’s become so pathetic that even Sean Hannity has stopped propping it up.

But how did it come to this? 

Start with the fact that a full year ago, even Comer had to admit that there wasn’t any evidence of Biden crimes. But that didn’t stop him and Jordan from plowing on and making it all more ridiculous. They brought in IRS whistleblowers who produced nothing but hot air. The biggest news story to come out of that hearing was extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s porn stunt, displaying nude photos of Hunter Biden—not the usual C-SPAN fare.

Despite those early fiascos, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy decided he’d try to save his own bacon by making the impeachment effort official. (The extent to which that didn’t work is a whole other story.) The first official hearing proved to be another complete farce

“Through the course of the day, not only did Republicans showcase their lack of interest in facts, they also demonstrated that they are absolutely terrified of anything that looks like a fact witness,” Daily Kos’ Mark Sumner wrote.

It didn’t get any better for Comer and Jordan. They were played by Hunter Biden when he showed up to testify on camera despite their efforts to do it in secret. Comer still plowed on with the hearings only to be embarrassed again in the infamous Russian mole and sawdust debacle. He then tried moving the goalposts, suggesting that impeachment wasn’t their goal after all. Rather, they were gathering evidence for future prosecutions in a would-be Trump administration, Comer claimed.

That was after they tried to pivot the story to a classified documents scandal, featuring a report on Biden’s old age, which was another total flop. They even tried to impeach a Cabinet secretary in another debasing disaster for Republicans.

All of which has served primarily to turn extremist Republicans against Comer for not working hard enough at impeaching Biden. 

“I feel like this was slow-rolled, and it’s been very frustrating for me as a new member because I feel like there’s way more that we could have done, and it just hasn’t been done in a timely fashion,” a frustrated GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna told CNN.

“I don’t even want to talk to you. … If you don’t think they were influence-peddling, there’s nothing to say. My God,” Comer responded to CNN. 

Officially, a House Oversight Committee spokesperson says that “the impeachment inquiry is ongoing, and impeachment is 100% still on the table.” Uh-huh.

All Comer has gotten out of this is the animosity of colleagues and showing himself to be a fool in front of a national audience. Oh, and the unearthing of a few of his own little scandals

The perfectly hilarious cherry on top of all of this? The Kentucky Republican’s dream of redemption.

“Comer, a five-term congressman, has another matter on his mind: ambitions to run for higher office one day,” CNN reports, “including potentially running for governor, according to lawmakers who have spoken to him.” 

Sure, dude. Sure.

RELATED STORIES:

The Republican ‘whistleblower’ hearing had everything … except evidence

The 5 best moments of the House ‘impeachment inquiry’ farce

GOP House digs for new Biden dirt as sawdust 'cocaine' and Russian moles fail

Everyone is picking on poor little Jimmy Comer

Campaign Action

Watch Stephen Colbert’s hilarious take on GOP’s latest impeachment fail

The Republican Party’s attempted impeachment fiasco and beleaguered House Speaker Mike Johnson were the subjects of late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert’s opening monologue Wednesday night. Colbert observed that while the House Republicans targeting Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “never identified a specific high crime or misdemeanor for the impeachment, which is usually kind of a thing,” the event was still historic.

It's only the second time in America that a Cabinet member has been impeached. The first was Secretary of War William Belknap back in 1876, which Congress accused of ‘prostituting his high office to his lust for private gain.’ 

[In Trump voice singing Bette Midler song] Did you ever know that you're my hero …

Colbert then laid it on thick, claiming that his entire show would be dedicated to covering the Senate’s impeachment trial of Mayorkas, before someone off camera told him the Senate immediately voted to dismiss the articles of impeachment. 

“That was quick,” said a stunned Colbert. “So, what do you guys want to talk about?”

Colbert then pivoted to the precarious position GOP Speaker Mike Johnson finds himself in, even though “they just got rid of the last guy six months ago.”

Republican speaker of the House has joined the list of least secure jobs, just below No. 2 leader of ISIS; World's Oldest Man; and Rupert Murdoch fiancée.

Colbert: Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, seen here in his profile pic on HammerYourOwnPenis.com.

After playing a clip of Johnson telling Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo that Trump is "100% with me," Colbert threw to a clip of Trump being asked whether he will support Johnson.

Trump: Well, we'll see what happens with that.

Colbert: That is a dose of classic Trump loyalty. He's got your back ... so he can push you under a bus.

Zachary Mueller is the senior research director for America’s Voice and America’s Voice Education Fund. He brings his expertise on immigration politics to talk about how much money the GOP is using to promote its racist immigration campaigns.

Senate decides not to bother with House GOP’s dumb impeachment stunt

House Republicans really wanted an impeachment of … someone. President Joe Biden, preferably, or his son Hunter, or maybe Hunter’s laptop, or perhaps Hunter’s dog walker. They decided on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who didn’t commit any high crimes or misdemeanors but did attempt to execute the policies of the administration in which he serves. 

On Wednesday, the Senate took one look at the articles of impeachment oh-so-solemnly delivered by a hard-right House faction just the day before and said, “Nope. Hard pass.” Senators voted to toss the case without wasting their time on a trial.

And like that, it was all over.

That House Republicans, led by their increasingly endangered leader Mike Johnson, insisted on going through with the whole charade in the first place is a testament to their dedication to absurd stunts, as well as their inability to count. In February, they couldn’t count the number of votes they would need to actually impeach Mayorkas, and their first attempt failed.

Once they finally got their precious articles passed, they waited. And waited. And waited. It just never seemed like the right time to send those articles to the Senate because even Republican senators were musing that it all seemed like a ridiculous waste of time.

But finally—finally!—the glorious moment came when Marjorie Taylor Greene and fellow House impeachment managers would have the spotlight on their big impeachment moment. Except that didn’t happen either, because Greene instead directed the media’s attention to her threats to oust the aforementioned increasingly endangered House speaker.

If only the Republicans could get a trial in the Senate, though, they’d show once and for all how impeachable Mayorkas’ supposed offenses really were! Only problem there is that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said all along he’d move to toss the whole thing without a trial, and a lot of his fellow Democrats—even West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who called the impeachment stunt “pure crap”—agreed with him.

So where does that leave everyone? Senators are now free to go back to doing their jobs, as is Mayorkas. But what about Johnson, who can’t seem to deliver a win to his Republican caucus no matter what?

Well, the the bad week he was already having on Tuesday just got worse, and his miscalculation about when it would be safe to send the impeachment to the Senate certainly won’t improve things for him. On Tuesday, Greene picked up the support of Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, who said he would cosponsor her motion to kick Johnson to the curb.

Thus far, they’re the only two Republicans in the House who want to fire yet another speaker. But now that Johnson’s delivered another GOP humiliation, who knows whether others might be ready to join that mission? After all, it’s only Wednesday.

Campaign Action

Marjorie Taylor Greene makes a mess of House GOP’s big impeachment day

The ill-fated impeachment trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was finally supposed to take center stage for House Republicans this week after Speaker Mike Johnson pulled it last week. The House impeachment managers presented the articles to the Senate Tuesday afternoon, in what’s supposed to be a solemn and grave proceeding—impeachment is as serious as it gets in Congress. 

Mayorkas’ impeachment is supposed to demonstrate the House GOP’s resolve on immigration and border policy and prove that it can actually get something done, but the antics of extremist Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie have completely overshadowed it. House Republicans brought the impeachment to the Senate, and no one gave a damn.

Instead, the blockbuster news of the day is Massie joining with Greene on her threat to oust Johnson, making the impeachment attempt even more of a ridiculous sideshow. It’s also hilarious that it’s Greene—who spearheaded the sham impeachment to begin with—who is derailing it.

If Johnson is capable of learning, this should be a lesson to him about trying to appease the hard-right faction of his party. Greene not only filed this embarrassing motion to impeach, but she’s also on the impeachment managers team. Letting her loose on the Senate floor during what’s supposed to be a serious moment is a dangerous move.

Greene gave a preview of her possible antics during a DHS budget hearing Tuesday morning.

“I demand that Chuck Schumer holds your impeachment trial in the Senate, because that’s exactly what we should be focused on right now,” Greene told Mayorkas. Sure, Marge. Sure. 

Greene’s demand means squat to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Impeachment should never be used to settle a policy disagreement, Schumer said. “Talk about awful precedents. This would set an awful precedent for Congress."

The Senate is not going to convict Mayorkas, as even some Republicans think it’s bullshit. But senators are still obligated to take time out of a hectic week to deal with the charade. They have to spend time Tuesday receiving the articles, and then they will have to waste a chunk of Wednesday being sworn in as jurors, even though the impeachment push is going nowhere. 

The whole spectacle is just one more example of House Republicans’ ineptitude and what happens when they let the likes of Greene run the show.

Donate now to end this circus, and to take the House back from Republicans!

RELATED STORIES:

House Democrats come hard at GOP in Mayorkas impeachment hearing

House speaker delays doomed-to-fail impeachment trial

'It's crap. Pure crap': Senators look to quickly dismiss Mayorkas impeachment