Republicans are keen on taking back the House in November and are committed to launching several investigations on day one. Some potential investigations include the politicization of the Department of Justice, COVID-19 origins, handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden family business dealings, and the Afghanistan withdrawal. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky is set to lead the charge on many of these investigations, notably the Hunter Biden probe. Comer said the Biden probe is important because “we believe he’s compromised Joe Biden.”
Emily Brooks; October 21, 2022
From Hunter Biden to alleged politicization in the Department of Justice and beyond, House Republicans have been preparing for months to unleash a flood of investigatory actions and findings if they win a majority in the Nov. 8 midterm election.
Investigations would be a major tool for the House GOP, as many top policy priorities would be unlikely to make it past a filibuster in the Senate or be signed by President Biden.
With the majority also comes the ability to dictate the focus of hearings and compel testimony and documents, including some that they may have already requested but not received, through subpoenas. That could put pressure on the Biden administration.
The House GOP’s “Commitment to America” midterm policy and messaging plan boasts that House Republicans have already sent more than 500 requests for information and documents.
Rep. James Comer (Ky.), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee in line to be chair of the panel, has promised hearings and probes into the Biden family’s overseas business activities.
Republicans on the committee have a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive first revealed shortly before the 2020 election, but say that salacious video and photos in the files are not the focus.
“The reason we’re investigating Hunter Biden is because we believe he’s compromised Joe Biden,” Comer told reporters in September.
A top priority for Republicans on the Oversight panel is gaining access to the Treasury Department’s suspicious activity reports from U.S. banks relating to foreign business deals from Hunter Biden and other Biden associates. Republicans have said that the Treasury Department has refused to provide the reports, and alleged that Biden family members have prompted at least 150 suspicious activity reports.
“I think that’ll go a long way towards helping us be able to uncover some questions that the American people have about the ethics, and whether or not the Biden administration is truly compromised by Hunter’s shady business dealings,” Comer said.
Republican trust in federal law enforcement agencies plummeted alongside the rise of former President Trump and special counsel Robert Meuller’s investigation into him, and the sense among the GOP that the DOJ and FBI are biased against conservatives has only grown since that time.
One top topic for a GOP House will be the DOJ’s decision to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August and seize classified materials.
Republicans have requested documents from the National Archives and the FBI related to the decision to refer the matter of missing documents to the FBI and to execute the search warrant. After the raid, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned Attorney General Merrick Garland to “preserve your documents and clear your calendar.”
GOP interest in the DOJ extends beyond Trump, though.
“The No. 1 thing is this weaponization of the DOJ against the American people,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who is likely to chair the committee in a GOP majority, said at the House GOP’s platform rollout event in September.
Jordan has said that his office has received information from more than a dozen whistleblowers who came forward with allegations of FBI bias against conservatives, including the agency retaliating against employees with conservative views.
In a major win for the House GOP, former FBI official Jill Stanborn will sit for a transcribed interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 2. Jordan and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) sought testimony from Stanborn in relation to whistleblower claims that the FBI pressured agents to improperly reclassify cases as “domestic violent extremism.”
The Democratic-controlled House created a select Oversight subcommittee on the coronavirus in 2020, and Republicans have complained that the committee did not hold hearings on the origin of the virus.
A report from Republicans on the select subcommittee released Wednesday pledged to keep investigating U.S. dollars that flowed to research on coronaviruses at a Wuhan, China, lab, officials who sought to squash the lab leak hypothesis, and state policies that pushed COVID-positive patients into nursing homes.
Republicans from the subcommittee hosted an expert forum, during which panelists said they thought evidence pointed to the virus originating in the Wuhan lab.
Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Biden who has spent decades as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, plans to step down from his government positions in December. But Republicans say that will not stop them from calling Fauci to appear before Congress to talk about the origins of the virus.
GOP leaders have pledged to hold more hearings on the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 that led to the deaths of 13 service members in a bombing and the Taliban taking control of the country, saying that unanswered questions remain.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans released an “interim report” on the withdrawal in August, finding that the State Department “took very few substantive steps” to prepare for the consequences in the months ahead of the August withdrawal.
The report said that the State Department failed to provide numerous materials relating to the withdrawal and forecasted the intention to use subpoena power to retrieve those documents as well as have officials sit for transcribed interviews.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) on Tuesday also sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting information on how the Department of Defense has “secured, archived, and standardized operational data and intelligence” from Afghanistan. In an interview with The Hill, Waltz said that data is necessary in case the U.S. has to go back into Afghanistan to counter terror threats.
The surge of migrants at the southern border and the Biden administration’s policies that allow the migrants into the country are top campaign issues for Republicans in the midterms and would be a sharp focus in a GOP House.
“We will give [Homeland Security] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas a reserved parking spot, he will be testifying so much about this,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said at Republicans’ “Commitment to America” rollout event in September.
Deaths of migrants at the border, the flow of illegal drugs like fentanyl into the U.S., and the Department of Homeland Security’s ending of the “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers are other likely topics of inquiry. A letter from Republicans in April accused Mayorkas of having “disregard for the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.”
Multiple Republicans members have introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas in the current Congress. McCarthy has declined to commit to impeachment of any Biden Cabinet member, saying he will not support a political impeachment, but opened the door to impeaching Mayorkas in an April stop near the U.S.-Mexico border.
“This is his moment in time to do his job. But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody,” McCarthy said at the time.
Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo