WASHINGTON — The White House is firing back at House Republicans and their impeachment inquiry into the president by demanding that Republican lawmakers withdraw their subpoenas targeting Biden family members and administration officials.
In a letter obtained by NBC News, White House counsel Richard Sauber called the requests for information and interviews “unwarranted” and called the impeachment inquiry “illegitimate.” The letter, dated Friday, was addressed to House Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
“Your latest actions follow a reckless series of subpoenas and interview requests you issued last week, addressed to several members of the president’s family, all of whom are private citizens, including e.g. the widow of the president’s deceased son and his sister,” Sauber said. wrote. “These unjustified requests were sent even though after a year of investigation, numerous files and testimonies from dozens of witnesses have refuted your baseless allegations against the president. »
Comer released a lengthy list of subpoenas and requests for interviews and documents focused on several members of the Biden family and their associates. The group includes the President’s son Hunter Biden, his brother James Biden, his daughter-in-law Melissa Cohen and the widow of his late son Beau, Hallie Biden. Sauber described requests for information from private citizens as an example of weaponizing the power of Congress to attack a political opponent.
The subpoenas for Biden family members came after House Republicans obtained thousands of pages of bank records linked to James and Hunter Biden. They released details on two interest-free loans from the president to his brother which were fully repaid during Biden’s time out of office. Comer suggested the loan deal was part of a suspicious business transaction involving James Biden, but did not provide definitive documents to support that claim.
The status of the impeachment investigation and whether it leads to articles of impeachment remains an open question. President Mike Johnson, who as a rank-and-file member of Congress has been highly critical of the Biden family’s business practices, has taken a more discreet approach to the investigation since taking office. the hammer. He described impeachment as one of the “heaviest powers” members of Congress have and promised he would not predetermine the outcome, preferring instead to see where the evidence leads.
Johnson’s approach has led some conservative members of the House Republican caucus to express concerns about his stance, while publicly pushing Republicans to be more aggressive in their investigation. Johnson met this week with Comer, Jordan and House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., to get an update on the status of the investigation and later issued a statement reporting that the investigation was nearing conclusion.
“At this point, our impeachment inquiry has already shown the corrupt conduct of the president’s family, and that he and White House officials have repeatedly lied about his knowledge of and involvement in his family’s business activities.” , Johnson said in a statement.
He went on to say: “I commend the good work of Presidents Comer, Jordan and Smith. As we move toward an inflection point in this critical inquiry, they have my full and unwavering support.
In its Friday letter, Sauber said the impeachment investigation was baseless.
“Rather than recognizing the insufficiency of the evidence, you systematically misrepresented the documents and testimony you received, then moved the posts when your claims were debunked, as you appear to be doing here,” he said. he writes. “This pattern of distortions and lies exposes that no amount of truthful testimony or document production will satisfy you and exposes the inappropriateness of your committees’ efforts. »
Sauber also criticized the fact that the impeachment inquiry was launched without a vote in the House.
“You also claim the role of an ‘impeachment inquiry,’ knowing full well that the Constitution requires the full House to authorize an impeachment inquiry before a committee can resort to mandatory proceedings under the power of impeachment – a step that the House Republican majority has so far refused to take,” he wrote.
Sauber’s call to withdraw the subpoenas is unlikely to lead to a different course of action from Republican Party-led committees.
In a statement to NBC News, Comer accused the president of lying and demanded more information.
“If President Biden has nothing to hide, then he should make his current and former staff available to testify before Congress about his mishandling of classified materials,” Comer said.
“President Biden and the White House seek at every turn to obstruct our investigation,” he added. “We are not deterred by this obstruction and will continue to follow the facts and hold President Biden accountable to the American people.”
As it stands, Hunter Biden is scheduled to participate in a transcribed, closed-door interview on December 13, a week after James Biden was asked to appear.