Florida Democrat gives GOP a sarcastic taste of their own medicine

If Rep. Jared Moskowitz hadn’t won election to the House for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, he might have been a roast master. Moskowitz has a special knack for mocking MAGA House Republicans, particularly Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

On Wednesday, Moskowitz wanted to make a point about just whose bidding Comer was doing before heading into a hearing on “Influence Peddling: Examining Joe Biden’s Abuse of Public Office.” The hearing was yet another chapter in House Republicans’ failing and increasingly embarrassing attempt to use allegations about Hunter Biden’s business dealings to impeach the president.

Moskowitz showed up for the hearing wearing a mask of Russian President Vladimir Putin as he walked down the hallway. House Democrats have accused Comer and other Republican committee members of spreading Russian disinformation about the Bidens.

RELATED STORY: House GOP can’t wait to have hearings on how old Biden really is

.@RepMoskowitz wears Putin mask to hearing on Biden Family Business Dealing pic.twitter.com/jZdGcaImxO

— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) March 20, 2024

A reporter asked Moskowitz: “Congressman, can you explain what you are wearing?”

And acting in character, Moskowitz replied: “I just came to thank James Comer for taking all of our intelligence and using it in the committee. Maybe he can come see the technology in our grocery stores. Thank you.”

That reference to grocery stores was a dig at former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who, during his visit to Moscow to interview Putin, posted a widely mocked video in which he praised a Russian grocery store for its low prices.

Another reporter then asked Moskowitz: “Congressman, don’t you think this behavior is kind of immature?”

Moskowitz did not reply and could be seen removing the mask as he entered the chamber.

Moskowitz’s masking was intended to draw attention to recent developments in the Biden impeachment inquiry when Republicans’ key witness, Alexander Smirnov, was arrested and accused of lying to authorities about a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving the Biden family’s business dealings in Ukraine. Then prosecutors revealed that Smirnov claimed extensive foreign contacts, including to officials linked to Russian intelligence, portraying him as part of an ongoing foreign plot to spread disinformation and interfere with U.S. democracy.

So far, the exhaustive and lengthy investigation by House Republicans has not turned up any substantial evidence showing that President Biden engaged in any wrongdoing.

All joking aside, Moskowitz can be serious too. This is what he said about the impeachment inquiry in February during a CNN Interview:

Moskowitz: When did James comer know this was false? And how long did he conceal that from the American people? Those are he'll questions we need to get to the bottom of. When did he find out that this was a lie.. and they were still using this information pic.twitter.com/uFA2AJlYEu

— Acyn (@Acyn) February 16, 2024

But Moskowitz, a member of the committee, often uses humor to make his point. After Smirnov’s arrest was revealed, Moskowitz mocked Comer with a gif of the “you sit on a throne of lies” line from the movie film “Elf.”

“The witness of the FD-1023 form was just indicted for making it all up,” wrote Moskowitz, who quoted a post by Comer where he cited an FBI form that documented Smirnov’s claims.

The witness of the FD-1023 form was just indicted for making it all up https://t.co/gEkZmTkTOG pic.twitter.com/wx0HA4y1Fl

— Jared Moskowitz (@JaredEMoskowitz) February 15, 2024

And back in November, when Moskowitz brought up allegations about Comer’s own business dealings with his brother, Comer said the Florida Democrat looked like a “Smurf.” To which Moskowitz responded on X: “Gargamel was very angry today.”

Gargamel was very angry today. https://t.co/aLMzok63g9

— Jared Moskowitz (@JaredEMoskowitz) November 14, 2023

During another hearing, Moskowitz expected that one of the Republicans on the committee might attack Hunter Biden for naked photographs reportedly found on his laptop, The Daily Beast reported. So he was prepared when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia whipped out the nude photos of Hunter Biden at the January hearing. Moskowitz then held up an enlarged photo of Trump with his arm around convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

He told Greene: "You come up here and talk about Hunter Biden’s behavior, and you’re so disgusted, but the guy that you all kneel to associates himself with a pedophile.” Moskowitz told The Daily Beast at the time that it’s the Democrats’ job to give the committee’s Republicans a “taste of their own medicine.”

“They’ve decided to turn it into Cirque du Soleil Oversight where literally, it’s just a total show,” Moskowitz said. “If that is the game that they are going to play, then game on.”

RELATED STORY: GOP seeks new way to attack Biden since impeachment scheme is a bust

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GOP seeks new way to attack Biden since impeachment scheme is a bust

Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing with special counsel Robert Hur showcased Republican desperation to find some way to attack President Joe Biden.

Despite the release of a full transcript of the interview between Hur and Biden that showed complaints about the president’s memory to be exaggerated, if not outright lies, many Republicans continued to pursue the Biden-so-old route. Texas Rep. Nathaniel Moran went so far as to suggest that Biden should be placed under guardianship for diminished mental capabilities

At the same time, committee Chair Jim Jordan was one of multiple Republican members who asked Hur to envision fantasy scenarios in which the president was 15 or 20 years younger. That was part of an extended, and sometimes laughably desperate, effort by Republicans to get Hur to say that somehow, somewhen, somewhere in the multiverse, he might have considered charging Biden. They did not succeed.

But the biggest reason for the Hur hearing wasn’t just to give a chance to alternate between asking whether Biden should be in a care facility or if he’s a criminal mastermind. The reason that the Republicans called in Hur is that their big impeachment scheme has fallen apart. Now they are madly searching for something, anything, that they can throw against the walls of the White House.

As Politico reported on Wednesday, the Republican plan to impeach Biden appears to be all but dead. That effort began as soon as Republicans had their hands on the machinery of the House, with Rep. James Comer chairing the House Oversight Committee running a parallel “investigation” with Jordan on the Judiciary Committee and Chairman Jason Smith on the Ways and Means Committee. It reached its ludicrous peak on Sep. 12, 2023, when then-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy announced a formal impeachment inquiry in a blatant effort to hang onto his big office. That didn’t work.

By the time Hunter Biden made his way to a closed-door meeting of the inquiry on Feb. 28, 2024, it seemed clear Republicans were only spinning their wheels. Despite hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents, Republicans had produced nothing more than some truck payments, family loans, and a heavily debunked claim from an indicted foreign agent

However, as the Politico article notes, Republicans see it as a high priority to “antagonize the White House.”

It might seem that getting some legislation passed after a session in which Republican infighting resulted in just 27 bills escaping the House (that includes renaming some Veterans Affairs clinics and issuing a commemorative coin). But Republicans are convinced that demonstrating competence in governing doesn’t matter to their voters. 

So they are just going to throw crap against the walls of the Capitol in the hopes that some of it might stick.

Among the Republican Plan Bs under consideration are:

  • Sending criminal referrals for Hunter Biden to the Justice Department. 

  • Keep investigating, but save any announcements for closer to Election Day.

  • Just keep investigating and making false claims—because that’s worked so well so far.

There’s also a plan to sue the Department of Justice, though it’s not clear why. 

There’s even a suggestion that Republicans might do something that seems anathema to them so far—draft legislation. In this case, it would be legislation to tighten rules for financial reporting and foreign lobbying.

However, not only would this require them to break out a pencil stub and do the work they’ve resisted since taking control of the House in 2023, it would also mean drafting something that would pass the Senate. It could be exceedingly difficult to craft a bill on financial reporting that didn’t have a much bigger impact on Donald Trump than Biden. Ditto on issues of foreign lobbying.

The problem for Republicans is that Trump and his family did all the things they’ve been attributing to Biden and his family. Which would seem to make the legislative route difficult without netting the wrong fish.

Other options, like the idea of making a criminal referral on Hunter Biden, would be an obvious exercise in toothless grandstanding. But that hasn’t seemed to bother Republicans so far, so this is likely what they’ll do.

Republicans are reportedly so far away from mustering enough support for a Biden impeachment that even Speaker of the House Mike Johnson can see that such a move would fail. But they’re unwilling—and possibly incapable—of trying to dig their way back to respectability by passing legislation that addresses the nation’s needs.

So they’re going to sit among the ashes of their very fine impeachment inquiry and try to find something else ugly enough to please MAGA voters. So far, they’ve got nothing.

The Bulwark’s Sarah Longwell joins Kerry to discuss the State of the Union and what President Biden needs to do to soundly defeat Donald Trump in Novembe.

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Majority of Americans open to kicking Trump off state ballots

 Whether by hook or by crook, a majority of Americans—56%—are willing to see Donald Trump kicked off some or all state ballots, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

Two state-level rulings in Colorado and Maine have disqualified Trump from the ballot. Feelings about those rulings were more mixed: 49% support the decisions, while 46% oppose them.

But when it comes to the Supreme Court tackling the question of whether Trump can be barred from ballots under the 14th Amendment, 30% said the high court should remove him from all ballots, while 26% said the court should let states decide Trump's fate. Just 39% said Trump should be kept on the ballot in all states—a remarkably low percentage for a major-party presidential front-runner.

The survey also tested support for the federal and state charges against Trump, as well as House Republicans' impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

At base, 56% support the charges against Trump, while 39%—there's that number again— oppose the charges. On the Biden impeachment inquiry, just 44% support it, while 51% oppose it.

But in terms of "strong" support, 41% strongly support charging Trump, while just 26% strongly support opening an impeachment inquiry into Biden.

That means House Republicans are fixated on devoting a bunch of time and energy during a presidential cycle to a matter that only a quarter of voters feel passionately—and that a 51% majority opposes.

That's the definition of fringe politics: elevating the desires of about a quarter of the public over those of the majority of Americans.

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Majority of Americans open to kicking Trump off state ballots

 Whether by hook or by crook, a majority of Americans—56%—are willing to see Donald Trump kicked off some or all state ballots, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday.

Two state-level rulings in Colorado and Maine have disqualified Trump from the ballot. Feelings about those rulings were more mixed: 49% support the decisions, while 46% oppose them.

But when it comes to the Supreme Court tackling the question of whether Trump can be barred from ballots under the 14th Amendment, 30% said the high court should remove him from all ballots, while 26% said the court should let states decide Trump's fate. Just 39% said Trump should be kept on the ballot in all states—a remarkably low percentage for a major-party presidential front-runner.

The survey also tested support for the federal and state charges against Trump, as well as House Republicans' impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

At base, 56% support the charges against Trump, while 39%—there's that number again— oppose the charges. On the Biden impeachment inquiry, just 44% support it, while 51% oppose it.

But in terms of "strong" support, 41% strongly support charging Trump, while just 26% strongly support opening an impeachment inquiry into Biden.

That means House Republicans are fixated on devoting a bunch of time and energy during a presidential cycle to a matter that only a quarter of voters feel passionately—and that a 51% majority opposes.

That's the definition of fringe politics: elevating the desires of about a quarter of the public over those of the majority of Americans.

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New report shows Mike Johnson’s role as pivotal ‘architect’ of 2020 election denial efforts in House

Mild-mannered House Speaker “MAGA” Mike Johnson is not a headline-seeking showboater when it comes to election denialism. Instead, he largely avoided attention as he worked to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. And now he’ll be holding the gavel when the House reconvenes on Tuesday with one of its main priorities being continuing the baseless impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden.

You won’t find Johnson engaging in over-the-top provocative actions, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene did when she posed with QAnon Shaman Jacob Chansley during a December meeting in Arizona of Turning Point USA, a right-wing youth group. And on Jan. 6, 2021, Johnson avoided direct involvement in the “Stop the Steal” rally outside the White House that ended in the attack on the Capitol. But he did play a key role in providing the legal fig leaf that enabled 147 Republican lawmakers—139 House members and eight senators—to vote against approving the Electoral College count and Joe Biden’s victory.

RELATED STORY: Profiles in cowardice: Three years after Jan. 6, GOP leaders won't hold Trump accountable

Johnson was not among the six Republican lawmakers—including current House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio and Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Andy Biggs of Arizona—who were subpoenaed to appear before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.  Johnson received just one passing mention in the committee’s final report, Politico reported.

But a report released last week by the Congressional Integrity Project to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection highlighted Johnson’s role as “congressional architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, advocating an interpretation of the Constitution so outlandish that not even the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority could swallow it,” reported the Brennan Center for Justice.

Politico wrote:

A relatively junior House Republican at the time, Johnson was nevertheless the leading voice in support of a fateful position: that the GOP should rally around Donald Trump and object to counting electoral votes submitted by at least a handful of states won by Joe Biden.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio was the most prominent public face of the congressional effort to fight the results of the 2020 election, his mentee, the newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson, was a silent but pivotal partner.
So let’s take a closer look at Johnson’s record as a propagator of the Big Lie, because it exposes the danger of what might happen if there is another close presidential election and the GOP retains control of the House with Johnson as speaker.

“You don’t want people who falsely claim the last election was stolen to be in a position of deciding who won the next one,” Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Associated Press.

“Johnson is more dangerous because he wrapped up his attempt to subvert the election outcomes in lawyerly and technical language,” Hasen said.

Before being elected to Congress in 2016, Johnson, a constitutional law attorney, served as senior legal counsel from 2002-2010 for the Alliance Defense Fund (now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom), a Christian conservative legal advocacy group that opposes abortion and LGBTQ+ rights. Johnson himself wrote opinion pieces against marriage equality and endorsing briefs filed by the ADF meant to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults, Rolling Stone reported. The Southern Poverty Law Center designated the ADF as a hate group in 2016.

So it was no surprise that Johnson sent out this tweet on Nov. 7, 2020, when media outlets largely called the race for Biden:

I have just called President Trump to say this: "Stay strong and keep fighting, sir! The nation is depending upon your resolve. We must exhaust every available legal remedy to restore Americans' trust in the fairness of our election system."

— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) November 7, 2020

Two days later, Johnson sent out another tweet indicating that he was in regular contact with Trump:

President Trump called me last night and I was encouraged to hear his continued resolve to ensure that every LEGAL vote gets properly counted and that all instances of fraud and illegality are investigated and prosecuted. Fair elections are worth fighting for!

— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) November 9, 2020

Politico wrote that in an interview with a Louisiana-based radio host on Nov. 9, Johnson added details on his call with Trump and made clear that “they already had their eye on a Supreme Court showdown.” Johnson said he thought “there’s at least five justices on the court that will do the right thing.”

Then on Nov. 17, Johnson repeated the debunked claim put forth by Trump lawyers that there was an international conspiracy to hack Dominion voting machines so Trump would lose the election, The Associated Press reported. The AP quoted Johnson as saying:

“In every election in American history, there’s some small element of fraud, irregularity,” Johnson said in the interview. “But when you have it on a broad scale, when you have a software system that is used all around the country that is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, when you have testimonials of people like this, it demands to be litigated.”

As more states moved to confirm their election results, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a hail-Mary lawsuit in early December asking the Supreme Court to reject the election results in four states carried by Biden—Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—on the basis that those states introduced pandemic-related changes to election procedures that were illegal.

In Congress, Johnson, who had served on Trump’s first impeachment defense team in early 2020, helped lead the effort to get 126 Republican lawmakers to sign an amicus brief supporting the Texas lawsuit. Johnson tweeted:

President Trump called me this morning to let me know how much he appreciates the amicus brief we are filing on behalf of Members of Congress. Indeed, "this is the big one!" https://t.co/eV1aoNlpvq

— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) December 9, 2020

Then on Dec. 11, in a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the Texas lawsuit. On Dec. 14, the electoral college members met in their states to cast their ballots for president. That same day Johnson said in a radio interview that Congress still had the final say on whether to accept Biden’s electors on Jan. 6, 2021, Politico reported.

On Jan. 5, Johnson met with fellow GOP House members in a closed-door meeting to discuss what they should do in Congress the next day.

Politico wrote:

”This is a very weighty decision. All of us have prayed for God’s discernment. I know I’ve prayed for each of you individually,” Johnson said at the meeting, according to a record of his comments obtained by POLITICO, before urging his fellow Republicans to join him in opposing the results.

On the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, just hours before the mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, Johnson tweeted:

Rep. Mike Johnson, Jan. 6, 2021: “We MUST fight for election integrity, the Constitution, and the preservation of our republic!  It will be my honor to help lead that fight in the Congress today.” pic.twitter.com/4gTYgv3Pc8

— Republican Accountability (@AccountableGOP) October 25, 2023

After the mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, Johnson condemned the violence, according to The New York Times, but he defended the actions of Republican lawmakers to object to Biden’s victory. And when Congress reconvened, more than half of the House GOP caucus supported objections to Biden’s victory.

In an October 2022 report published weeks before the midterm election, The New York Times emphasized Johnson’s role in the vote:

In formal statements justifying their votes, about three-quarters relied on the arguments of a low-profile Louisiana congressman, Representative Mike Johnson, the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.

On the eve of the Jan. 6 votes, he presented colleagues with what he called a “third option.” He faulted the way some states had changed voting procedures during the pandemic, saying it was unconstitutional, without supporting the outlandish claims of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters. His Republican critics called it a Trojan horse that allowed lawmakers to vote with the president while hiding behind a more defensible case. …

Even lawmakers who had been among the noisiest “stop the steal” firebrands took refuge in Mr. Johnson’s narrow and lawyerly claims, though his nuanced argument was lost on the mob storming the Capitol, and over time it was the vision of the rioters — that a Democratic conspiracy had defrauded America — that prevailed in many Republican circles.

Johnson has not wavered from his position that he and other House GOP members had been right to object to the election results. 

In its report, the Congressional Integrity Project noted that Johnson had voted against creating a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, calling it “a third impeachment.” He also voted against holding former White House adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 select committee.

And just months before the House GOP caucus voted unanimously in October to install Johnson as speaker, he gave oxygen to the baseless conspiracy theory held by right-wing Republicans that federal agents orchestrated the Jan. 6 insurrection. He alleged that FBI Director Christopher Wray was “hiding something” about the FBI’s presence in the Capitol on Jan. 6, the Congressional Integrity Project reported.

In November, Johnson fulfilled a promise he made to far-right members of the House GOP caucus in order to secure the speaker’s post when he announced plans to publicly release thousands of hours of security camera video footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, blurring the faces of individual protesters. Earlier last year, then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson used selectively edited security camera footage to make the claim that Jan. 6 was largely a peaceful protest and the demonstrators were “not insurrectionists, they were sightseers.”

In its report, the Congressional Integrity Project said one of the biggest dangers is that the attempted Jan. 6, 2021 coup never ended because Johnson and the same Trump allies behind that insurrection are now fully behind the sham Biden impeachment effort.

These Republicans include Johnson, Jordan, Comer, and such firebrands as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, the report said.

With the report, Kyle Herrig, the executive director of the Congressional Integrity Project, issued a statement that read:

“The same MAGA Republicans who led Donald Trump’s deadly insurrection and attempt to overthrow an election he knew he lost, are the same ones pushing the bogus impeachment of President Biden. MAGA Republicans are a threat to all Americans and our democracy. They will stop at nothing to pursue their radical, out-of-touch agenda, including violence. All of their actions on behalf of the disgraced former president in an attempt to distract from his 91 criminal indictments and help him return to the White House in 2024—and they don’t care who stands in their way.”

RELATED STORY: House GOP kicks off a new year of dysfunction with another impeachment

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Ex-prosecutor on Hunter Biden case says GOP falsehoods have led to threats

Lesley Wolf worked in relative obscurity for nearly 16 years as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, but now the former federal prosecutor says she’s been threatened and harassed after Republicans falsely accused her of going easy on Hunter Biden.

In her prepared opening statement, released to the media, for a closed-door deposition demanded by House Republicans as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, Wolf said:

“My desire to serve my community and my country, such a great source of pride, has recently come at significant cost. As a private person, the once routine and mundane details of my life have become the subject of public interest in an invasive and disturbing manner. Far worse, I have been threatened and harassed, causing me to fear for my own and my family’s safety.”

Her deposition on Thursday came a day after the House, on a party-line vote, formalized the Republican majority’s impeachment inquiry even though they haven’t found any evidence that the president benefited from his family’s foreign business dealings or accepted bribes.

Wolf joins the growing list of prosecutors, judges, obscure government officials, election workers, and others who have been targeted and harassed after incurring the wrath of former President Donald Trump and his minions—for merely doing their jobs.

On Friday, a federal jury in Washington awarded $148 million in damages to two former election workers in Georgia—Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss—for the harm caused to them by defamatory statements made against them by disgraced former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani following the 2020 election. 

Wolf’s problems arose simply because she happened to work for Delaware U.S. District Attorney David C. Weiss, a Donald Trump appointee, who first began investigating Hunter Biden’s financial dealings in late 2018. President Biden retained Weiss in his post so that he could continue the investigation of his son.

Wolf was part of the team that initially worked out a plea deal with Hunter Biden on gun and tax charges this summer. Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his 2017 and 2018 taxes on time. He also agreed to terms to avoid prosecution on a felony charge alleging that he falsely asserted that he was sober when he bought a handgun in 2018.

But the plea deal collapsed due to differences over the scope of immunity that Hunter Biden would have received from future investigations. In August, Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel status in the investigation. In September, Weiss’ office indicted Hunter Biden on three felony counts for allegedly illegally purchasing the handgun.

Then, earlier this month, Weiss obtained an indictment from a federal grand jury in California, charging Hunter Biden with nine tax-related criminal charges, including three felony counts. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said his client would not have been indicted if his surname were not Biden.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. And there was nothing in either indictment related to his father.

The president’s son declined to appear for a closed-door deposition in the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, holding a press conference outside the Capitol at which he said he would only testify in public—so Republicans couldn’t selectively leak excerpts from his testimony. House Republicans have threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—who himself refused a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 select committee—and other MAGA Republicans still feel that the DOJ has gone easy on Hunter Biden.


Whistleblowers from the IRS’ criminal division claimed in congressional testimony this year that Wolf blocked them from pursuing certain search warrants and generally disagreed with their plans to be more aggressive in investigating the Biden family.

“She limited what they could do in their investigation,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the leaders of the impeachment effort, said on Fox News in June, shortly before requesting a transcribed interview with Wolf and other officials. Jordan subsequently sent Wolf a subpoena.

On Thursday, Wolf joined the ranks of other Justice Department officials who’ve said that politics had nothing to do with their decisions in the Hunter Biden case.

After the hearing, Jordan complained to reporters that Wolf had refused to answer most of the questions she was asked during the deposition., NBC News reported.

But in her prepared opening statement, Wolf broadly defended her work and said she was bound by DOJ policies not to discuss an ongoing investigation.

“At all times while serving as an AUSA, I acted consistently with the Justice Manual, DOJ policy directives, and my statutory/legal and ethical obligations. I followed the facts where they led, and made decisions in the best interests of the investigation. This includes, but is by no means limited to, policies and rules governing politically sensitive investigations, election year sensitivities, attorney search warrants, search warrant filter requirements, and professional conduct rules barring contact with represented parties.”

Wolf also revealed that she had recently left her post as a federal prosecutor, but said her decision “was long pre-dated and was unconnected to the baseless allegations against me.” She said she “agreed to stay with the office months longer than planned because of my belief that my family and I were safer when I remained an AUSA.”

Fox News did not mention this in its online story, nor did that story mention the threats Wolf said she has received as a result of the allegations against her. Instead, its story was headlined: “Jordan says former prosecutor who allegedly scuttled Hunter investigation 'refused' to answer questions.”

Rep. Glenn Ivey, a Maryland Democrat, attended the deposition and said that Republicans kept asking Wolf about the Hunter Biden case during the four-hour-plus deposition. Huffpost reported:

“They kept showing her documents and things that they knew that she couldn’t comment on, asking her questions about the ongoing investigation, even though they knew she couldn’t comment on it,” Ivey said in an interview with the outlet.

Ivey does not believe that Republicans deliberately incited harassment against Wolf, but he said it was “irresponsible” for lawmakers to be putting people’s names out in the public to the extent that they have.

“They know at this point that when they put people’s names out there and connect them in these types of investigations, and make suggestions about them being involved in cover-ups and things like that, they know that this is going to be a consequence of that,” Ivey said.

RELATED STORY: Right-wing terrorism fueled by Trump doesn't only focus on Democrats

Weiss voluntarily agreed to respond to the subpoena. She concluded her opening statement by observing all too accurately:

“I have no doubt that after today the threats and harassment and my own fear stemming from them will heighten exponentially. This not only scares me, but as someone who loves this country, it also breaks my heart.  We are living in a day and age where politics and winning seem to be paramount and the truth has become collateral damage.”

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

The impeachment inquiry that Republicans started on Thursday was demonstrably without merit and initiated in violation of House rules and precedent. At the end of the day, after hearing from three Republican non-fact witnesses chosen because of their commentary in right-wing media, not a single hint of evidence was produced to justify the inquiry.

Even so, the hearing was extremely revealing—only that most of what it revealed was how ready Republicans were to manufacture false claims and wheel out conspiracy theories that have been widely debunked for years. This was partly because they had nothing else. Mostly, it was because every single Republican treated their five minutes of camera time as if they were doing a one-person play for Newsmax.

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.

Here are five highlights showing that the all-day event definitely had value.

5. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls out manufactured images

During his five minutes, Republican Rep. Byron Donalds trotted out a series of images that were reportedly messages from Hunter Biden. They appeared to be screenshots of phone messages, complete with little green bubbles. However, these images, many of which came straight out of sites associated with QAnon, were neither actual screenshots nor at all accurate.

It fell to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to call out one of the worst.

AOC: That screenshot of what appeared to be a text message was a fabricated image. It was a fabricated image, I don't know where it came from, I don't know if it was staff of the committee, pic.twitter.com/Hv6s9oii3a

— Acyn (@Acyn) September 28, 2023

In the actual message, Hunter Biden is worried about his ability to pay his alimony and is planning how he can get his life back together as he recovers from both drug addiction and a divorce, while hoping to find a way to pay back what he owes to members of his family. A friend replies offering Hunter a place to stay and help in planning his next steps.

But Donalds showed scraps of this conversation pasted together, which were meant to make it seem as if one of Hunter’s business partners was scheming to make a payment to President Joe Biden. It was about as close to the actual message as a ransom note generated though cutting words out of magazines.

And you can see exactly how concerned Donalds was about being caught committing absolute fraud.

Byron Donalds and his smug face while AOC points out that his text message presentation was a fabricated image that omitted key context. Tells you all you need to know about Byron Donalds. pic.twitter.com/t7xdn95TQk

— John G (@JohnnyG0626) September 28, 2023

Why wasn’t he concerned? As Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, everyone in the room other than the witnesses were protected by the “speech and debate clause” of the Constitution. That allows members of Congress to lie with impunity, and Republicans put that ability into heavy rotation during this hearing.

4. Rep. Jamie Raskin shows that Republicans are allergic to facts

Throughout the day, Republicans returned again and again to one claim: While serving as vice president, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to dismiss prosecutor Viktor Shokin to protect the company Burisma, where Hunter Biden was on the board. That claim wasn’t simply an item on a list, it was the only claim that many of the Republican members talked about. That includes Rep. Jim Jordan, who used it both as his opening and in his sweaty, ranty closing remarks.

The problem with this claim is that it’s simply a lie. It’s a lie that was debunked literally within two weeks of when it first appeared, in 2019. The story did not exist before Giuliani brought it to The New York Times. It was immediately shot down. It was the basis of the phone call that Donald Trump placed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an attempt to blackmail him into producing false claims about Joe Biden. It has been debunked by everyone involved in every way possible.

Now Republicans are wedded to this baseless lie as the heart of their “inquiry.” That leaves them fighting desperately to prevent any facts about these events from entering the hearing room. That even extends to preventing Republican witnesses from appearing.

Rep. Jamie Raskin just moved the House GOP's Impeachment Inquiry to subpoena Rudy Giuliani and @levparnas for direct eye-witness testimony about their main allegations against President Joe Biden. Republicans just voted 20-19 to TABLE THE MOTION, keeping the key witnesses away! pic.twitter.com/cuNTFQjBLJ

— Grant Stern  (@grantstern) September 28, 2023

The biggest chuckle of the whole thing is how Jordan tries to pretend that somehow the Burisma lie can exist independent of Giuliani when everyone involved confirms that the story did not even exist until Giuliani began shopping it around in 2019. Everything that they are leaning on now, including that infamous FBI form 1023, was created in an effort to prop up Giuliani’s massive lie.

3. Rep. Robert Garcia shows what actual corruption looks like

Over and over throughout the day, it became obvious that there was one name missing from the “evidence” that Republicans kept repeating: the name of the guy they were supposedly investigating, Joe Biden. Republicans showed charts of an array of businesses. They went through stacks of phone texts and emails. They detailed meals almost down to the menu. But what was missing from 99.9% of the things they brought up was any whiff of the president.

Here’s Jordan’s tweet from last week that practically represents a summary of the hearing.

-The Biden “brand.” -10% for the Big Guy -50% of earnings -Shakedowns -Fake Names -Shell companies -Multiple family members getting paid -Multiple times the White House changed their story -Dinners -Meetings But according to Democrats, no need for an impeachment inquiry.

— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) September 13, 2023

Unable to find anything that Joe Biden has done, Republicans declared that there was a Biden “brand” that they could then use as a proxy for Joe Biden. What does this mean? Were there license agreements? Biden water? Biden steaks? Maybe big gold letters spelling “BIDEN” above the doors of hotels actually owned by foreign corporations? None of that.

What the “Biden brand” and “the Biden family” really translates to is “We have nothing on Joe Biden.” But in case Republicans had forgotten what real corruption looked like, Rep. Robert Garcia came complete with pictures of someone who genuinely had worked in the White House, visited with foreign leaders on official business, then collected $2 billion from those leaders the day after Trump left office.

Rep. Garcia uses his time to highlight the brazen corruption embodied by the presence of Jared Kushner and Ivanka in the Trump White House pic.twitter.com/ZoutPuJ86d

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 28, 2023

2. Rep. Jasmine Crockett delivers one of many fantastic takedowns

The whole affair was such a shambles that as the day wore on, Democrats in the hearing were clearly having fun. Whether it was Raskin’s opening remarks that made it clear exactly what was going to happen, or Rep. Daniel Goldman repeatedly forcing a clearly exasperated Jordan to accept documents on the record following Republicans lying about those documents, there was a good deal of fun to be had from this pointless farce of a hearing.

Just watch Rep. Jared Moskowitz.

Almost from the opening bell, things went so poorly for the Republicans that it was obvious why even Fox had relegated this thing to their business channel. Five years of investigating the same false claims had not brought them even a speck of evidence.

On any ordinary day, Moskowitz delivering the line, “As a former director of emergency management, I know a disaster when I see one,” would be a sure winner. But sorry, Rep. Moskowitz, that moment has to take second place to Rep. Jasmine Crockett’s remarks.

First, Crockett tried to enter a fact sheet into the record. When Jordan and Rep. James Comer objected, Crockett wasn’t even phased. “Of course y’all gonna object,” she said smoothly, “but we gon’ talk about it.” Then she moved on to a moment of absolute destruction.

Not only did Crockett absolutely slay Republicans over the idea that nothing they were talking about showed any connection to Joe Biden, but also she took the time to review some of the genuine threats raised by actions of Donald Trump. That included waving some of the images that were taken during the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where boxes of classified documents were stacked in a bathroom.

Crockett: “When we start talking about things that look like evidence, they [Republicans] want to act like they’re blind. They don’t know what this is. These are our national secrets! Looks like in the shitter to me.”

1. Rep. Greg Casar blows apart the entire basis of the Republican ‘inquiry’

Throughout the day, in their hundreds of mentions of Hunter Biden, Republicans kept insisting that they were all about “equal treatment under the law,” and that Joe Biden’s son was getting off too lightly because of that “Biden brand.”

But when it came right down to it, Casar simply blew away that claim—as well as any claim that Republicans were concerned about justice at all—with one simple action.

Rep. Greg Casar (D-TX) asks House Oversight Committee members to raise their hands if they believe both Hunter Biden and Donald Trump should “be held accountable if they’re found guilty.” All Democrats raise their hands; no Republicans do. pic.twitter.com/NnPxjkGZyW

— The Recount (@therecount) September 28, 2023

Casar: “Will members of the Oversight Committee please raise your hand if you believe both Hunter and Trump should be held accountable for any of the indictments against them if convicted by a jury of their peers?”

Casar’s hand went up. The other Democrats on the committee raised their hands. Not one single Republican joined them.

In 30 seconds, Casar demonstrated absolutely that far from being about “equal justice,” Republicans are there to ensure unequal justice and to do the bidding of Donald Trump. It was a masterclass in simply calling on people to put up or shut up. And it should be an example that is not forgotten.

Sign and send the petition: NO to MAGA impeachment. Focus on what matters.

Live coverage: Republican impeachment inquiry (part 2)

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 7:19:19 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Rashida Tlaib contrasts the nonsense of this hearing with important hearings she’s been involved with in the past, and the damage done by a shut down—which Republicans are ignoring.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 7:16:47 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Democrats enter more documents into the record, some of it probably addressed what Gosar said. But I really can’t tell you what Gosar said.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 7:14:22 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Paul Gosar wins the award for being the worst at reading from his own notes. Honestly, Gosar is so monotone and is engaging in such a long string of … whatever, that even the most dedicated Republican Biden hater had to take this five minutes for a bathroom break. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 7:09:28 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Moskowitz is joining some previous Democrats in showing statements that Republicans have made in the past, but these are not the same statements just being repeated, but new statements from Comer, Grassley, et. al.

It’s a good job of reinforcing and building on the statements previously cited.

“They’re all one upping one another in the Donald Trump friend Olympics, trying to get invited to the sleepover at Mar-a-Lago.” — Rep. Jared Moskowitz

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 7:04:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Jared Moskowitz is thrilled with how this hearing is going “As a former director of emergency management, I know a disaster when I see one.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 7:03:23 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Greene waves around a picture of something. She says its a bathing suit. What it proves outside of Q-anon circles is unknown. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:59:39 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And Greene is finally up. She is shocked, shocked, by how the DOJ hasn’t acted on claims she sent about unsupported claims that she sent about human trafficking by Hunter Biden. And because it was done in 2020, by the Trump DOJ, it was election interference. By Trump-appointed officials against Trump. 

If you thought Greene was going to say or ask anything reasonable … no, sorry. You never thought that. Apologies.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:53:06 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Goldman, who has been doing some heavy lifting on documents to this point, finally gets his opportunity to talk. He points out that the first hearing against Donald Trump had a full dozen fact witnesses, as opposed to zero.

And that, in addition to blocking an appearance by Giuliani, Republicans also won’t allow Devon Archer to testify, even though they are cherry picking his past statements as some of the primary evidence.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:51:15 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Joe Biden is 80. Every tax form he’s written since the Stone Age is public record. All his homes and bank accounts are on record. Do the Republicans think Biden is waiting until he’s 88 to retire and live it up on all the secret money?

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:50:02 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. William Timmons says he’s going to “make it simple” for the American people by bringing it down to “What did Joe Biden know, and when.”

Now we’re down to “a Biden” as well “the Biden family.”

Now we’re in Kazakhstan. And Burisma. And the CCP. Because Hunter Biden is not only the smartest man in business, but able to predict the future actions of world leaders. Honestly, Hunter should be a billionaire if he was capable of half what the Republicans are accusing him of.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:44:45 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Crockett asks to enter into the record a fact sheet from Congressional Integrity Project, Comer and Jordan object. 

Crockett: “Of course y’all gonna object, but we gonna talk about it.” Crockett then proceeds to read a list of Trump activities in China that dwarf anything that Republicans have even tried to throw at Biden.

Crockett then goes to Gerhardt to see how many times Republicans have said “if” in regard to the claims against Biden. Gerhardt “has been keeping a tally.” The number is 35.

Crockett holds up a picture of classified documents being stored in the bathroom at Mar-a-Lago and delivers the quote of the day.

“These are our national secrets. Looks like in the shitter to me” 

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:37:37 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Jasmine Crockett points out that the form 1023 that Republicans keep citing has been “repeatedly debunked” including by the person who brought it to the FBI originally. The FBI investigated the claims and closed the investiation.

“Repeating the same lies will not turn them into truth. Kind of like the election that he lost.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:35:49 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Raskin says that Perry used an email that was “purportedly obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop” which hasn’t be verified.

Raskin makes it clear that there is no chain of custody on this information. Jordan seems to think it’s okay because Hunter Biden is suing for breach of privacy. How that makes it okay unverified information, is left to the imagination.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:32:44 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Scott Perry wants to hold Hunter Biden guilty for simply being Joe Biden’s son. Perry once again demonstrates, after some slide fumbling, that Republicans either have so little to go on, or so uncoordinated, that they keep hitting the same line in the same document. 

Perry gets in a claim that Hunter Biden was “frequenting prostitutes.” So if that was on your BINGO card, there you go.

Boy, a lot of people seem to send money to “The Biden Family.” Which would be … who? Perry is really big on “the Biden family.” 

And now it’s snooze along with Turley time.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:28:23 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Greene shouts out “what about the Jan. 6 defendants.” Presumably she means it was wrong to prosecute insurgents. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:26:17 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Following Casar’s question, Democrats raise their hands. Republicans do not.

So much for equal justice under the law.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:24:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“I for one am grateful we have an independent judicial system where a president’s son, and a former president, can be investigated and prosecuted if they violate the law. It is my firm belief that hunter and Trump should both face trial and, if found guilty, face the consequence of the crimes they’ve been accused of. Can everyone on the Oversight Committee say the same thing?” — Rep. Greg Casar

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:21:15 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Casar is doing a good job of explaining how a big factor behind the Republican inquiry is to just make everyone look corrupt. Because if everyone is corrupt, then Trump’s corruption, and theirs, is no big deal.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:19:48 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Greg Casar pulls up a quote from Jordan calling attempting to impeach Trump “political theater.”

“If you thought impeaching Trump was political theater, what would you call this? This, this is a disgrace.”

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:17:40 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Goldman enters the letter that Fallon was talking about, which actually shows that Shokin was not investigating Burisma. It won’t make a dent in Republican’s claims.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:16:01 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Fallon halls out the 1023. The unverified 1023. The widely debunked 1023 that is based on the repeatedly debunked Burisma conspiracy theory.

And now we’re deep into Shokin territory. Really, that leaning on this five years later is kind of astounding. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:13:27 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Fallon keeps saying “say it with me” like he leading a chant. No one is saying it with him.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:12:07 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And we’re back with Comer now sitting in the big chair.

Rep. Pat Fallon is first up with the big news that Hunter Biden spoke with his father. This may actually be shocking to some Republicans.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:09:29 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

In general, Democrats regard these hearings as a team sport. They talk in advance, divide up topics, and use their statements to support each other and leverage a series of themes.

Republicans view them as a chance to promote themselves individually by showing that they are the cleverest, meanest, sneariest of all. Which is how you get someone shouting about China, and someone else talking about Romania, and a dozen people all using the same line because no one bothered to even notice that their colleagues already covered it.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 6:02:39 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Finally, Jordan hammers in a 10 minute break. Summing everything up so far.

Another House GOP staffer tells me “Comer and staff botched this bad.” Tells me the information presented by Republicans has been “confusing” and Democrats are “on message.” “How can you not be better prepared for this?”

— Stephen Neukam (@stephen_neukam) September 28, 2023

Yes, we are still here. And they are still there. And you are still better off just getting thing thing drip-fed to you at a safe distance.

Think of this as the layer of lead that stands between your brain and the kryptonite-level nonsense spewing from the House chambers. Considering the utterly disconnected from reality FUD that we’ve heard so far, we may have to increase the thickness.

Back to the fray…

Live coverage: Republican impeachment inquiry

Republicans begin their impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden today. Appropriately enough, they’re bringing in three “witnesses” who haven’t witnessed anything. One is accountant Bruce Dubinsky, whose expertise consists of going on Fox News to attack Hunter Biden. Another is a former member of Donald Trump’s transition team, Eileen O’Connor, who served in the Department of Justice two decades ago. The last member of this Republican dream team is, of course, “legal scholar” Jonathan Turley, the attorney who ponied up to defend Donald Trump during his impeachment hearings and the go-to choice when Republicans need support for their most ridiculous theories.

None of these three have any connection to Hunter Biden or President Joe Biden. They have no knowledge of the events, no involvement in any investigation, no special knowledge, and no reason to appear.

So, if nothing else, this is going to be a perfect illustration of just what this “inquiry” is about.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:43:54 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Lynch just demolished one of the GOP witnesses pic.twitter.com/tNPsmZZv6N

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 28, 2023

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:42:44 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Mike Turner spends most of his time praising the wisdom of Jonathan Turley. And again, we’re going down the road to Burisma. 

Turner brings up the fact that the attorney general has a special prosecutor looking ino classified materials that Biden already turned over and strings a new conspiracy theory that Hunter Biden was selling classified info. So that’s at least a fun new unsupported line of BS.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:37:55 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Lynch says he’s surprised that he walked into this meeting with supposed witnesses and didn’t find Rudy Giuliani, the one person who can actually answer questions about how the Burisma story started. 

Gerhardt agrees that it “seems obvious” Giuliani should be there.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:36:24 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Stephen Lynch points out that not one of the witnesses Republicans brought has any knowledge of any wrongdoing by President Biden, any evidence about Hunter Biden, or anything really to contribute to this processes.

Lynch points out that O’Conner’s article “You’d go to prison for what Biden did” was actually “You’d go to prison for what Hunter Biden did.” O’Conner says she left out the “Hunter” because she was “cutting down words to say inside my five minutes.”

A pretty important word, says Lynch.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:32:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Jordan and Turley tag teaming the idea that you don’t need any evidence to do an impeachment inquiry, and boy are they spending a lot of time defending just sitting here today.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:29:50 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Jordan jumps fully into the Burisma claims as the basis of this investigation. Which is an absolutely full on perfect, since that’s has been so roundly disproven since 2019.

Jordan is back in front of the cameras screaming. Because being louder makes things more important.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:27:38 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Norton throws back to Raskin so he can ask Gerhardt about how Republicans aren't concerned about the $2 billion pocketed by Jared Kushner.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:25:06 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton goes back to Gerhardt who emphasis that there is no credible evidence against President Biden, and that impeachment without evidence doesn’t just trivialize impeachment, but “trivializes the Constitution and runs roughshod over the rule of law.”

Note that is is Democrats who are actually asking for witnesses to the Burisma deal to be called, while Republicans are quickly shutting down that effort. Because Republicans want to use the claims against President Biden without any threat of the truth getting in the way.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:21:34 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Smith gets his turn to talk about the “700 pages of documents” from his fantastic press conference

He asks O’Conner a question about “Biden family” and “the family” are apparently a thing that is capable of violating campaign laws. 

This thing is so scripted that O’Conner is thrown off because she admits that she thought Smith was going to ask her a different question about a different part of the conspiracy theory. O’Conner also points to Dubinsky as someone who can fill Smith in on how some part of this “family” worked. Because it’s an ensemble piece.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:16:34 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Raskin asks Gerhardt about whether any impeachment inquiry has been launched without a vote of the full House. Nope. How about impeachment inquiries without evidence of a crime? Nope. Gerhardt agrees with Raskin that hearing from Giuliani and Parnas is important. 

Raskin asks Gerhardt for a theory that Trump didn’t deserve to be impeached for Jan. 6, but Biden does deserve to be impeached for … whatever. Gerhardt says he cannot. 

Raskin moves to enter a letter from Parnas into the record.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:11:50 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Jordan starts off with the $250,000 that was sent to Hunter Biden by wire which used Joe Biden’s home address which was insta-debunked after Republicans tried to spring this yesterday. 

So, Jordan is now asking Dubinsky about how this matches his experience of fraudsters, which is exactly why Dubinsky is there. So that every theory that Jordan, Comer, or Smith wants to posit can be supported.

Then Jordan turns to Turley, who has handily prepared for Republicans a list of crimes they might consider using to impeach President Biden, since they don’t have anything. This whole back and forth with Turley is fantastic, because it amounts to Turley flat-out advising the Republicans on how to conduct their case. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:06:18 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And lord help us, now we have to get through all the questions from members. So here we go...

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 3:05:54 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Professor Michael Gerhardt starts off warning against the trivializing of impeachment inquiries, and quoting Alexander Hamilton from the Federalist papers. 

Gerhardt goes back through the evidence that Jordan gave, simplifies it, and shows where it not only doesn’t come close to justifying impeachment, but doesn’t show that President Biden did anything wrong. Most importantly, Gerhardt points out that all the things they are doing—criticizing the actions of prosecutors, talking about whether Hunter Biden’s deal was proper—are outside of the functions of the Committee.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:59:42 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Dubinsky just said that shell companies “more often than not” are used for illicit purposes.

Someone might want to get in touch with the guy who has over 500 of those shell companies. (Hint: That’s Donald Trump)

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:58:34 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Bruce Dubinsky is hear to tell us he knows all about fraudsters, fraud, and how fraudsters move their money around. His whole testimony seems to boil down to saying “where there’s smoke there’s fire” except he can’t say anything about whether there’s any actual fire. Or smoke.

Expect all his testimony to be about his “experience with fraudsters.” Republicans are going to use him to paint a picture of Joe Biden’s family moving money around through shell companies. Evidence be damned,

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:55:51 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Eileen O’Conner says she was “invited to share her comments on Hunter Biden as a private citizen.” That’s—interesting. And then she moves directly to acting as a proxy for IRS “whistleblowers” Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler.

Then she talks about his Wall Street Journal editorial titled “Throw Hunter Biden’s plea deal in the trash” And her second editorial titled “You’d go to prison for what Biden did.” If you wondered why she’s there, now you know.

O’Conner goes on to extend a new conspiracy theory that the IRS and DOJ were somehow making a deal with Hunter Biden to try and cut off Shapley. Everything she said absolutely contradicts Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss. But again, no one is bothering to hear from people who were really involved.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:48:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Turley starts off the affair by talking about how he believes the House has “passed the threshold” for the inquiry. Then goes on to admit that everything is simply an allegation.

For what it’s worth, I allege that Turley is a hack. Can we impeach him?

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:44:56 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Now Jordan introduces the witnesses. Oddly enough, their appearances on Fox and their connections to Trump have gone unmentioned.

In addition to the Republican witnesses, Democrats have called law professor Michael Gerhardt.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:40:30 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

After some wrangling, Jordan goes through the motion of tabling Raskin’s call for for witnesses who are actual witnesses. It is, of course, promptly blocked along partisan lines.

Because the last thing Republicans want in this hearing is someone who actually knows something about the claims they are making.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:36:20 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Raskin insists that Rudy Giuliani and his convicted partner in crime Lev Parnas be called as witnesses, asks for a vote. Jordan just refuses to do it.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:34:35 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Raskin has spent the last ten minutes just eating this hearing alive. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:31:57 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Raskin once again goes through the steps showing that the firing of Shokin was part of a fight against corruption in Ukraine that was backed by multiple governments and by Republicans in the U.S. Senate. It wasn’t until years after the event that the whole “Biden did it to help Burisma” scheme was concocted by Giuliani and Trump.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:28:54 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

“If the Republicans had a smoking gun, or even a dripping water pistol, they would be presenting it today, but they’ve got nothing on Joe Biden. All they can do is return to the thoroughly demolished lie that Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump launched five years ago — the Burisma conspiracy theory.” — Rep. Jamie Raskin

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:28:27 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Raskin making it clear that if they had to put this farce up for a vote, Jordan, Comer, and Smith don’t have the votes to get this inquiry started. It’s only because Rep. Kevin McCarthy bypassed all the rules he had thumped during Trump’s impeachment. 

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:23:38 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Raskin starts with a series of quotes from Republicans that are genuinely fun. Also, Raskin got in a quote from “Alfred Pennyworth in the Dark Knight,” which is a pretty good illustration of just where this hearing is taking place.


UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:19:44 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. Jamie Raskin points out that since this whole farce didn’t get a vote in the House, all the attacks on President Biden are a violation of House rules. But Jordan just says that’s okay, Biden can be smeared at will.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:17:39 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And now we get Rep. Jim Jordan. How also jumps right to the Ukraine false claims.

This whole thing about the prosecutor in Ukraine, Viktor Shokin, has been debunked over, and over, and over. Really, it’s just perfect that this is already turning out to be the heart of this “inquiry.” 

The second part of this is going to be how Joe Biden somehow controlled the Department of Justice all through the Trump administration. Which is just high fantasy.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:12:54 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And Rep. Jason Smith jumps right into the repeatedly debunked claims about Joe Biden in Ukraine. Because of course they’re going to go there.

UPDATE: Thursday, Sep 28, 2023 · 2:09:09 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Rep. James Comer starts right off claiming to have a “mountain” of evidence and treating every claim as if it is an established fact. It’s always easier to conduct a trial if you don’t have to prove anything. Maybe they’ll just skip right to the end.

Republican impeachment inquiry gets off to a perfect start

On Wednesday afternoon, Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee held a press conference to announce the start of their impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden. If this was intended as a preview of what’s to come, it was perfect.

At that conference, NBC reporter Ryan Nobles pointed out that much of the supposed evidence took place at a time not only before Joe Biden was elected, but at a point where he wasn’t even a candidate. But time … is apparently a very fuzzy concept to Rep. Jason Smith. The resulting exchange was hilarious.

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) melts down as an NBC reporter questions GOP claims of DOJ political interference in favor of Joe Biden before he was president. pic.twitter.com/Afm75G5CDq

— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) September 27, 2023

Nobles: “Can you explain the timing of the Aug. 6 WhatsApp message? Why is that evidence of some wrongdoing?”

Smith: “I’m not an expert on the timeline. I would love to have, um, President Biden and his family to tell us about all the timeline.”

Nobles : “But if he's not the president or the vice president at that time, where’s the wrongdoing? He wasn’t even a candidate for president at that time.”

Smith: “He was a candidate.”

Nobles : “On Aug. 6 of 2017?”

Smith: “So apparently, apparently … what source are you with?”

Nobles: “I’m with NBC.”

Smith: “So apparently, you’ll never believe us.”

Nobles: “I’m not saying I don’t believe you. I’m asking you a very direct question. You presented a piece of evidence that you say came on Aug. 6 2017, that demonstrates that Joe Biden was using political influence to help his son.”

Smith: “What’s that?”

Nobles: “The WhatsApp message you put up. How does that demonstrate that there was some sort of political influence put over him if at that time he wasn’t a political figure, he’s not an elected official?”

Smith: “I’m definitely not going to pinpoint one item.”

Nobles: “You presented it. It was your first thing that you brought.”

Smith: “So, apparently you don’t agree with it.”

Nobles: “It’s not that I don’t agree with it. I’m asking you to explain it.”

Smith: “I’ll take the next question.”

The inquiry gets underway today with three witnesses slated to testify:

  • Bruce Dubinsky, an accountant who has previously appeared on Fox News as a commentator about Hunter Biden.

  • Eileen O’Connor, a former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department’s Tax Division during the George W. Bush administration and a member of Donald Trump’s transition team.

  • Jonathan Turley, an attorney who Republicans also called as a witness to defend Trump during his impeachment hearings.

So, the first three witnesses include no one who has any direct knowledge of anything involving either Hunter Biden or President Joe Biden, no one who has served in public office in the last two decades, and no one with any connection to any of the officials or events that are the supposed focus of the inquiry.

That also sounds perfect. It all gets underway at 10 AM ET. And yes, we will be covering it.

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