- The Washington Times
Wednesday, January 11, 2023

House Republicans on Wednesday kicked off their promised investigation into President Biden and his family’s long trail of suspicious business dealings with demands for information from the Treasury Department and testimony from former Twitter executives.

The moves from House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman James Comer, Kentucky Republican, provided a preview of an intense, politically charged investigation.

Mr. Comer, now armed with subpoena power, said the committee’s investigation into Mr. Biden’s suspected involvement in the foreign moneymaking schemes of his son Hunter Biden ranks as its top priority.

“Now that Democrats no longer have one-party rule in Washington, oversight and accountability are coming,” Mr. Comer said.

He kicked off his investigation with demands that three former Twitter executives appear before Congress next month for his committee’s investigation into Big Tech’s censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“For the past two years, the Biden administration and Big Tech worked overtime to hide information about the Biden family’s suspicious business schemes and Joe Biden’s involvement,” Mr. Comer said.

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He requested that Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer, James Baker, Twitter’s former deputy general counsel, and Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, testify before the committee at a hearing slated for the week of Feb. 6.

“Your attendance is necessary because of your role in suppressing Americans’ access to information about the Biden family on Twitter shortly before the 2020 election,” Mr. Comer wrote in letters to the former executives.

Mr. Comer made the requests last month after new Twitter owner Elon Musk released a flood of internal documents known as the “Twitter Files” that showed the platform had a left-wing bias that affected how it censored viewpoints.

The “Twitter Files” exposed the censorship of conservative messages and the decision to permanently ban then-President Trump from the platform in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol in addition to the suppression of information about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Other installments have revealed the extent to which federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies worked with the platform to moderate speech, including back-channel communications to flag posts and ban users.

The revelations have set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are demanding that several Big Tech companies hand over documents for their investigation into the Biden administration’s attempts to curtail online freedom of speech.

House Republicans also have paved the way for a new subcommittee led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio focusing on the “weaponization” of the federal government in response to First Amendment concerns raised, in part, by the flood of internal Twitter documents.

Mr. Comer said his requests that the three Twitter executives appear have gone unanswered.

“Neither you nor your representative responded to my previous request,” he wrote in his most recent letters to the executives. “This letter reiterates the committee’s request and — for your convenience in planning travel — informs you of the hearing date, which will be the week of Feb. 6.”

In addition to putting the Twitter executives on notice, Mr. Comer demanded that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen hand over a tranche of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) in the Treasury Department’s possession that he says shed light on a web of potentially illegal business ventures spearheaded by the Biden family.

Mr. Comer says previous requests that the Treasury Department hand over the SARs — reports generated by banks to flag suspected illegal activity — have been ignored.

“The committee is investigating President Biden’s knowledge of and role in these schemes to assess whether he has compromised our national security at the expense of the American people,” Mr. Comer wrote in a letter to Ms. Yellen. “Accordingly, we make this renewed request for certain records and information in Treasury’s custody.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the committee, accused Republicans of pursuing “already debunked and hyper-partisan conspiracy theories about President Biden, his family and the so-called ‘deep state.’”

“Conspiracy theories and disinformation are already at a fever pitch in the new Congress,” he said. “Committee Democrats stand ready to work with our Republican colleagues when they get serious about tackling the problems that affect the American people.”

Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa, is not so quick to write off the Republican-led probe, though he said Republicans are not likely to be afforded the same leeway Democrats had when investigating Mr. Trump.

The key, Mr. Hagle said, will be for Republicans to quickly make their case and present solid evidence to the public.

“To some extent, the Democrats could push back and say, ‘Oh well, this is just revenge.’ And if they get that narrative to stick, it will probably hurt the Republicans,” he said. “On the other hand, it seems like there may be more to this. For starters, the laptop story turned out to be true.

“Republicans need to be able to break through and get the public to understand what’s going on,” he said.

Hunter Biden’s far-flung business deals have raised eyebrows for years about potential influence peddling and possible crimes. He served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, pursued deals with Chinese Communist Party-linked energy tycoons and allegedly pocketed more than $3 million from a Russian businesswoman who is the widow of a former mayor of Moscow.

Mr. Comer and Mr. Jordan laid out evidence in November that they say “raises troubling questions” about whether the president has been “compromised by foreign governments” in connection with his son’s ventures.

Citing evidence obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop computer and through whistleblowers, Mr. Comer said his committee had uncovered a “decade-long pattern of influence peddling, national security risks and political cover-ups” committed by the Biden family with the direct knowledge and involvement of the president.

Republicans on the oversight committee said in a 31-page report that the president was directly involved in his family’s business deals, including those involving foreign interests, despite claiming he did not know the details.

The White House has consistently brushed off Republicans’ pledge to expand their inquiry. It called the lawmakers’ claims “politically motivated attacks chock full of long-debunked conspiracy theories.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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