Abbe Lowell Invites James Comer to Send a Valid Subpoena, Now That He Has Authority

Hunter Biden attorney Abbe Lowell sent James Comer and Jim Jordan a letter today that has gotten all the journalists who treat James Comer as a credible human being confused.

Effectively, the letter says:

  • Whatever subpoenas you claim to have sent were invalid because you had no authority to issue an impeachment subpoena
  • Now that you have authority to issue an impeachment subpoena, if you issue one, Hunter is willing to appear at a hearing or sit for a deposition

Much of the rest of the 8-page letter is a legal discussion. There may come a time when a prosecutor or judge will weigh whether Abbe Lowell’s argument was sufficiently sound to mean that any contempt referral against Hunter Biden is garbage.

For the purposes of journalists who’ve believed that James Comer is a credible human being, though, this may be the most important detail: quoting Comer and Jordan asserting, on December 13, that the House needed to vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry “to strengthen our legal case” to subpoena Hunter Biden.

Still further, on December 13, 2023, you issued a joint statement directly tying Mr. Biden’s subpoenas to the still yet-to-be-authorized impeachment inquiry: “Today, the House will vote on an impeachment inquiry resolution to strengthen our legal case in the courts as we face obstruction from the White House and witnesses. Today’s obstruction by Hunter Biden reinforces the need for a formal vote. President Biden and his family must be held accountable for their corruption and obstruction. And we will provide that to the American people.”

If you believe James Comer is a credible human being, then you should take Comer at his word that until the House voted to authorize an impeachment inquiry on December 13, Comer and Jordan didn’t have a very good legal case to enforce an impeachment subpoena to Hunter Biden.

Abbe Lowell may well have had the better legal argument in any case. In his letter, he cites some of the earlier letters he sent that didn’t make the contempt referrals. Those earlier letters are quite central to the legal argument, and the fact that Oversight and Judiciary didn’t mention them in the contempt referrals is going to make things awkward for whatever staffer is going to have to testify about this contempt referral before prosecutors, much less a jury.

And Lowell cites things that Jordan has said himself about the standards for subpoenas. If Lowell is lucky, those past statements will give him a way to call Jordan to the stand, something Bennie Thompson avoided in both the Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro cases.

But for the purpose of journalists who treat James Comer as a credible human being, the important takeaway is this: If Lowell is right — or even if Lowell is just sufficiently right to keep Hunter out of jail for this — then it means everything that came up to this point involved Comer and Jordan deceiving you about what was going on; Comer and Jordan deceiving you, and you believing them, and misleading your readers or viewers about what was really going on.

All those stories about how Hunter Biden “defied” a subpoena? Retract them, or issue a correction and say, “my bad, there was no subpoena. Hunter wasn’t defying anyone.”

All those stories about Hunter refusing to respond to a subpoena requiring a non-public deposition? Retract those too, because there may be no valid subpoena. Up until there’s a clearly valid subpoena, Hunter had every right to seek accommodations, as others have. That’s probably why Lowell says that if Comer and Jordan issue a valid subpoena, Hunter may even be willing to sit for a closed door deposition. That is, it’s not the preference for publicity, it’s the deference to an actually legal subpoena.

You might even do a piece that says, “Wow. That was a really dumbass thing for Comer to do, to issue a subpoena that wasn’t legally valid, because he gave Hunter Biden two opportunities to make him look like a dumbass. If only I were savvy enough to understand that’s what was going on.”

Because, ultimately, if you’ve been treating Comer as if he is a credible human being, you’re not very savvy and you owe your readers an apology.

But, honestly, if you believed any of this was real, then you’re the dumbass. If you believe that Comer and Jordan really are concerned about influence peddling from family members of Presidents, you’re the dumbass. If you believe that Comer and Jordan are primarily interested in Hunter’s testimony, then you’re the dumbass. If you believe there was an accommodation that was going to meet Comer and Jordan’s demands, then you’re the dumbass — indeed, that’s surely why Comer retracted his generous offer to let Hunter testify in public.

There’s a some reason to believe that Comer and Jordan fucked up the accommodation process so badly because they want to ensure that DC USAO or David Weiss — whoever gets any contempt referral they send — decides this contempt referral is legally garbage. Because, they have already admitted in one of the few statements that has been true, they are only looking for something — anything!! — they can use to rationalize an impeachment.

The subpoena was designed, from the start, to fail. That’s because Comer and Jordan know you’re such a dumbass that when it does, you won’t report that the failure is their own damned fault.

Update: Comer and Jordan say they’ll issue a valid subpoena. Congratulations Hill reporters, you’ve spent three months chasing a con.

26 replies
  1. RipNoLonger says:

    Are there any “news” outlets that you’d like to name as being particularly irresponsible? I’m guessing a couple of names. It also seems that these, and many other outlets, don’t bother checking the “facts” (or as KellyAnn/Fox used to say “alternative facts”) before taking the blather that comes out of the republican noise machine as quotable “semi-truths”.

    Thanks Marcy and many others for giving us some clarity in this world of smoke and mirrors.

    • Rayne says:

      Should be the inverse question: which outlets didn’t fall prey to teh stupid?

      This is also a question you can answer yourself by playing roulette with Google News browsing through coverage of the House subpoena issued to Hunter Biden. Don’t make Marcy chase what you can do yourself — and in doing so, you’ll be putting in more effort than most journalists covering this beat invested into getting facts and reporting straight.

    • John Paul Jones says:


      “Are there any “news” outlets that you’d like to name as being particularly irresponsible?”

      Marcy routinely calls out shoddy reporting on her Xitter feed, by name and link; it’s the principal reason I actually got me a Xitter account. Plus also, there are still journalists doing live-feed reporting on trials so that’s an added benefit.

  2. BobBobCon says:

    As always, it’s crazy how most of the political press corps does this follow-the-leader journalism. Against the backdrop of shrinking audiences and dropping public confidence, pack journalism locks in their losses.

    Liberals really need to stop rationalizing this behavior as somehow driven by clicks and page views. There is no surer way for Philip Rucker’s Washington Post to circle the drain economically than to keep churning out the same generic, wrong reporting. The Post isn’t bleeding readership because it needs to be a discount Haberman outlet, it’s because they can’t write a compelling truthful headline and lede to save their lives.

    Keep mocking the hacks for sailing straight toward the iceberg. Telling them they’re on the path to profits doesn’t help, and it’s blatantly wrong.

    • Tannenzaepfle says:

      I think a major source of this problem for them is how much of their reporting is based on friendly sourcing from politicians and staffers, which is so deeply ingrained that they can’t imagine another way of doing things. If the business side of the paper cuts your research budget (“doing more with less!”), you aren’t able to do enough research to fully immerse yourself in a beat and need to rely heavily on stenography. And as soon as the Post starts publishing headlines like “Subpoena Scofflaw Jordan makes factually confused, bad-faith attacks on never-has-been-in-government private citizen Hunter Biden”, your GOP sourcing dries up completely, even though that’s the most anchored in reality depiction of what is happening. I do think they’re responding to financial incentives, but it’s the whole economic structures around the news ecosystem that produce this kind of status quo, and precisely those structures we need to change.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Thank you, Tannenzaepfle, for that detailed, concise explanation. The NYT and WaPo still have enough money to pursue research/investigations, as their best work shows. The problem is that their politics desk editors increasingly seek out and hire “talent” based on those journalists’ already established access to celebrity pols on the GOP side, which is to say Trump in the past decade, but not just him.

        This makes those journos celebrities themselves, of the sort who show up regularly on cable news. All of it draws clicks for everybody*, which is a motivation that should never be underestimated, even by liberals.

        *Offer may not apply to CNN anymore.

        • Harry Eagar says:

          When I was newspapering, I didn’t have much use for the teevees. Still don’t. One thing that bugs me a lot — though I have not encountered anyone, not even former news colleagues, who share my concern — is the dual-appontment jobs: NYT reporter cum MSNBC analyst, etc.

          I understand th temptation from the print reporter’s position but it’s a bad deal for reporting.

          • Rayne says:

            Except that broadcast and cable television news (along with radio and newspapers) pays for the Associated Press and its reporting to use in its news programming. Ignoring TV as a newsperson and editor is to miss which stories have been disseminated most widely, possibly driving audience to newspapers for more coverage.

            How often do NYT stories get pickup in other news media besides a cable news analysis program? Unlike AP reporting their content is referenced as a source; MSNBC is simply cutting out the middle man (and their filters).

      • BobBobCon says:

        I think it’s true that GOP sourcing would take a hit if the Post started trying harder. And you’re right about how much the political press corps depends on them. But I’d also note that GOP sourcing is garbage. And it’s bad business for the press to depend on garbage sources.

        What we got for Kevin McCarthy’s speakership was a boatload of coverage based on reporters hanging out by the Speaker’s office dutifully plumbing his aides for nuggets. And they’d get little bits of trivia about how McCarthy was doing his best to shore up support with a favor here or there.

        And then those reporters were essentially blindsided when McCarthy got knocked out, with no serious consideration of the threat until a couple of weeks before he fell.

        The irony is that if those same reporters had been talking to Democrats on the Hill, they’d be much better prepared. Democrats hear the scuttlebutt. They know the players and the rules they play by. They can count votes better than the GOP whips.

        The political press thinks there’s a split between the GOP’s loss of reality in terms of policy — vaccines, climate change, the election, and a million other issues — and their ability to speak frankly on background about their politics. But the ongoing dysfunction in the House shows that the loss of reality is everywhere. They simply can’t be trusted. If Steve Scalise couldn’t understand he couldn’t be speaker, in what world could he be a good source? But the DC press is hardwired to give the GOP primacy, and it’s making them irrelevant.

  3. Clare Kelly says:

    Hear! Hear!

    In the very same piece reporting on the letter, a WaPo reporter wrote:
    “when he defied a summons for a closed-door deposition”
    and ended her piece with an incendiary quote from …Comer and Jordan.

    • David Brooks says:

      Did that quote refer to Jim Jordan’s subpoena, perchance? Or, if it’s mentioned at all, does the press just shrug “oh well, that’s just Jordan being Jordan.”

  4. Badger Robert says:

    He was there with his attorney and they did not stop to ask him to testify. Doesn’t that confirm they were never interested in his testimony?

  5. greengiant says:

    The “dumbass” media is not helping except to make themselves the caricature of “dumbassery”.

    Are there GOP voters for which there are any teachable moments?
    Talked to a conservative the other day who claimed to have no knowledge of
    ” assisted in devising and attempting to
    implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to
    obstruct the certification proceeding. ”
    contained in the D.C. indictment of Trump.

    • FL Resister says:

      Information silos are why I have felt it would be beneficial for the electorate to have the Jan 6 Trump trial televised. The stakes are too high and the case too important for the government not to do everything possible to be sure that the plaintiffs (we the people) are presented the facts in the trials of Donald Trump.

      Trump will grandstand anywhere. What about the public hearing about the other side of the story, the real evidence against him? Let him get the biggest ratings ever.
      Marcy has repeatedly shown we cannot rely on the press to emphasize the salient points.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        As Trump’s BS speech at the New York trial closing arguments on Friday showed, it’s really hard to shut the guy up; and when he spoke, where it was actually coherent (mostly it wasn’t) it was all bullet points for his campaign. (Courtesy of Lisa Rubin’s Xitter feed, I read the transcript). A televised trial would only give him an audience for more of his BS, and what’s worse, it would provide, every night on the news, clips to play. Why help his re-election effort?

  6. timbozone says:

    Lol. Well, the ridiculousness of those clowns (Comer and Jordon), just got a little bit closer to going solidly viral.

  7. jecojeco says:

    It’s never been about fact finding, it’s just a an opportunity to rag on the Bidens ad infinitum as a whatabout defense for trump’s 91 felony charges & $8 million ChiCom emolument. GOP doesn’t want to move to conclusion of Hunter investigations.

    But I don’t think Comer & Gym are playing 3D chess here, I’m not sure they can even spell it.

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