A top House Republican put the blame on Democrats for delegitimizing Congressional investigations.
Congressman James Comer (R-KY) said in an interview with Punchbowl News Wednesday that Democrats are to blame for Congressional investigations losing their credibility. Specifically, Comer called out Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the late Rep. Elijah Cummings for mishandling investigations and abusing subpoena power. Comer, the ranking member on the committee, is set to become the next chairman when Republicans take the House next year.
“ I don’t believe congressional investigations have a whole lot of credibility right now,” Comer told Punchbowl News. “I blame Adam Schiff for that. But it’s also both parties to blame for investigations in the past. But I really want to change that.”
Schiff, who currently serves on the House Intelligence Committee and the January 6th Committee, is infamous for his handling of the Russia collusion investigation and the first impeachment of former President Trump. Schiff repeatedly issued public claims that he had evidence that Trump colluded with Russia to overturn the 2016 election, but never released key materials from the investigation. Earlier this year, Schiff made similar claims that Trump was personally involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 election, but did not reveal the evidence because he did not “want to get ahead of [the J6 Committee] hearing.”
Comer also promised not to “abuse the subpoena ability” while he is chair of the Oversight Committee. Specifically, he promised not to indiscriminately send “subpoenas to everyone in a presidential administration like Elijah Cummings did.” Cummings served as Chair of the Oversight Committee from January 2019 until his death in October of that year. “So when you get a specific subpoena from Oversight when I’m chairman, then it’s going to mean something,” Comer said. “We’re going to be very selective in who gets subpoenas.”
Comer also dismissed criticism that his committee would take focus off Republican legislative priorities and messaging. “Well, the Oversight Committee right now is 8% of our Republican Conference,” he told the outlet. “We’re in charge of investigations: waste, fraud and abuse. That’s our job.”
Investigations the Republican-led committee will undertake include the origins of the COVID pandemic; fraud and abuse of the Paycheck Protection Program and pandemic-related unemployment insurance; the crisis at the southern border; and the botched American withdrawal from Afghanistan. “One of the things Republicans campaigned on was holding this administration accountable,” Comer added. “I’m doing my role. My committee’s 8% of the conference. The other 92% is going to be trying to reduce inflation, securing the border, getting crime under control, trying to change the energy policy.”
Comer also said that the Oversight Committee would open an investigation into Hunter Biden and the Biden family’s business dealings. “[I am] pretty confident that a majority of Americans have no idea the extent to Hunter Biden’s criminal activity,” said Comer, adding that he believes “Joe Biden was directly involved in that.” Comer previously outlined his plans at a news conference last week.
“We need to be very specific on what the immediate family members [of the president] can do with respect to lobbying,” Comer added. He also expressed hope for bipartisan support. “That should be something that’s not partisan with the Democrats, because they’ve criticized the previous president’s son-in-law on some of that stuff.”