After months of watching House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-KY) attack President Joe Biden for pretty much every outrage worthy of a Fox News segment, the White House isn’t holding back.
In advance of a press conference focused on the Biden family’s “business schemes” that Comer is holding Wednesday morning, White House spokesman Ian Sams issued a lengthy and exclusive comment to The Daily Beast questioning Comer’s own credibility.
“Congressman Comer has a history of playing fast and loose with the facts and spreading baseless innuendo while refusing to conduct his so-called ‘investigations’ with legitimacy,” said Sams, who is the White House press point person on GOP investigations.
“He has hidden information from the public to selectively leak and promote his own hand-picked narratives as part of his overall effort to lob personal attacks at the President and his family.”
Sams continued that instead of “staging yet another political stunt, Chairman Comer and House Republicans should do their job, avoid default without conditions, and prevent a devastating economic crash that could cost millions of Americans their jobs.”
The White House pointed to a number of examples that, according to Biden’s team, illustrate Comer’s tortured relationship with the truth.
First there was Comer’s cable and print crusade to claim that his Oversight Committee had spoken to “four individuals” who had provided information on Biden and the Biden family’s “influence-peddling scheme.” But when Democrats on the Oversight panel demanded to know about these “four individuals,” the ranking Democrat on the committee, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, was assured that Comer had only spoken to two individuals and that “no new witness information” was actually provided.
In a letter, Raskin accused Comer of improperly withholding information from Democrats on the committee and, “going on cable television to tout investigatory steps undertaken in secret or, more disturbingly, which may not have been taken at all.”
Then there was Comer’s investigation into China buying an American cobalt mine in 2016. Comer wrote a letter to the National Archives in Jan. 2022 asking for records about the sale and asserting that the Obama administration “curiously did nothing to intervene in Hunter Biden’s Chinese-backed transaction.”
But Axios reported in March that the firm Hunter Biden was linked to actually had nothing to do with the sale of the cobalt mine.
The White House also pointed to a list of Comer’s greatest hits—or, really, misses. Comer called Ukraine one of the United States’ “adversaries across the world,” even though Ukraine has been an important strategic ally as it fends off a Russian invasion and significantly hobbles Russia’s military. Comer warned that the Chinese spy balloon in February may have “bioweapons” from Wuhan. (It didn’t.) And he blamed Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse on its “woke” investment strategies of using “environment, social, and governance” criteria to evaluate certain companies, even though the crisis was triggered more by SVB selling bonds at a major loss, followed by a run on the bank.
The Washington Post also gave Comer “Three Pinocchios” for his claims that banks have filed 150 “Suspicious Activity Reports” against Hunter Biden, which he interpreted to mean was proof of “another act of crime.” WaPo noted that the 150 number is shaky, and that, just because a “SAR” was triggered—typically because of a large financial transaction that looks irregular—that doesn’t mean Hunter Biden is guilty of any crime.
Comer has repeatedly made hay out of the SARs. He claimed without evidence that Hunter Biden “probably” has more SARs than anyone else in history. He baselessly claimed “nobody gets more than one SARS file.” And he’s repeatedly mischaracterized what, exactly, a SAR means.
Neither Comer’s office, nor GOP staff on the Oversight Committee, responded to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment on Tuesday afternoon.
Still, Comer plans to hold a press conference on Wednesday on the GOP’s investigation into “the Biden family’s business schemes.” And while he may not be the most reliable narrator on everything Biden, it’s clear that he’s found some areas worthy of investigation—a prospect that clearly has the White House concerned enough to attack him and try to undermine his credibility.
The White House statement highlights the growing tension between Comer and the Biden administration, as Capitol Hill Republicans zero in on the foreign business dealings of Biden’s son.
While this isn’t their first swipe at each other, the broadside from the White House demonstrates the concerted effort to undermine Comer’s investigations as biased and untrustworthy—and could be just the opening stage of an open war between the White House and the House GOP Oversight chair.
In March, Comer may have overplayed his hand when he invoked the president’s deceased son during a podcast with former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs.
During that segment, Comer suggested that Biden’s son, Beau Biden—who died years ago of brain cancer—should be prosecuted over alleged campaign finance wrongdoing that involved his father’s then-campaign operation.
The White House was quick to fire back.
“It’s completely inappropriate. It’s ugly, the comments that he made. It says a lot about the chairman, which is not good, by the way,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the time when asked by The Daily Beast at the White House.