WASHINGTON ― The White House told Republicans on Friday to give up their impeachment inquiry and withdraw requests for interviews with the president’s staff and family members.
“These unjustified requests were sent despite the fact that, after a year of investigating, voluminous records and testimony from dozens of witnesses have refuted your baseless allegations about the President,” Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president, said in a letter to top Republicans on Capitol Hill.
House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-Ky.) and Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the House leaders of the impeachment effort, this week sought testimony from former White House counsel Dana Remus and several current aides to Joe Biden about the president’s mishandling of classified documents. Biden’s aides reported finding classified documents at the Penn Biden Center last year not long after the FBI raided former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence after his refusal to hand over classified material he’d kept after leaving the White House. Both men are under investigation by the Justice Department.
Because the impeachment inquiry has mostly focused on the president’s alleged participation in his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, Sauber mocked Republicans for having turned toward the classified documents after mentioning them “in a single footnote” in their September memorandum justifying the inquiry. (Republicans previously requested an interview with Remus in May.)
Sauber also questioned the inquiry’s legitimacy, since it was initiated by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) without a vote.
“For all these reasons, you should reconsider your current course of action and withdraw these subpoenas and demands for interviews,” Sauber wrote.
Nevertheless, the letter doesn’t say the White House won’t cooperate with the various requests.
The Biden administration has cooperated with other queries from Republicans. The Justice Department, for instance, has sent several officials for closed depositions about the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden, who faces federal charges of gun crimes and could be indicted in connection with tax and other violations.
Hunter Biden’s attorney said this month that his client is “eager to have the opportunity, in a public forum and at the right time,” to talk to Republicans. It’s unclear when that might happen.
For years, Republicans have claimed that as vice president, Joe Biden corrupted U.S. foreign policy to benefit his son by urging the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor while Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. State Department officials intimately involved in Ukraine policy roundly refuted the allegation during hours of testimony in 2019 and 2020 that Republicans are simply ignoring. Jordan reiterated the Ukrainian corruption allegation in a social media post on Friday.
This year Republicans have pursued an FBI source’s tip that the head of a Ukrainian gas company claimed he paid Joe Biden a $5 million bribe. Comer recently obtained nearly a decades’ worth of records from bank accounts connected to Hunter Biden and the president’s brother James Biden. Comer has not said whether the records show that a bribe was paid. Instead, Comer has demanded that the White House explain two transactions between Joe and James Biden, totaling $240,000, that were probably loans.
“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 documents,” Comer said Friday in response to Sauber’s letter.
“Instead of fulfilling President Biden’s pledge to have the most transparent administration in history, the White House is withholding over 82,000 pages of emails where Joe Biden used a pseudonym when he was Vice President, refuses to provide proof that Joe Biden loaned his brother money, and now seeks to block the Bidens, their associates, and current and former White House staff from testifying before Congress,” Comer said.