Tony Bobulinski Says Trump’s Impeachment Radicalized Him

I wrote two short threads on the Tony Bobulinski transcript released this week (one, two).

As with all things involving James Comer’s Oversight Committee, it quickly disintegrated into farce.

The story Bobulinski told was that — as a former Q Clearance holder (he raised the Q Clearance he held years ago over a dozen times) — he wanted nothing to do with CEFC, because, “lying, cheating, and stealing is sort of an acceptable practice … in China.” But then, in 2017, he mysteriously put aside his concerns about all that to try to get in on that business deal. Then, when Hunter Biden grew to clash with Bobulinski shortly after Bobulinski got involved in efforts to do business with CEFC in 2017, Bobulinski got furious at not being able to deal with CEFC.

It took some time to lay out what Bobulinski was up to.

First, Dan Goldman elicited Bobulinski to express how furious he was at being cut out of the business.

Mr. Bobulinski. SinoHawk did not receive the $10 million because —

Mr. Goldman. Thank you.

Mr. Passantino. Hold on. Hold on. He can finish.

Mr. Bobulinski. Hunter and Jim defrauded me at the end of July — not just me, but the other members of Oneida Holdings. You’re a litigator, former prosecutor at the SDNY. You’ve seen the fully executed SinoHawk documents, the fully executed Oneida, LLC documents. You’re a wealthy man. You’re very familiar with LLCs.

They had a fiduciary duty to not circumvent, lie, or embezzle funds. And at the end of July 2017, that’s well-documented, Hunter Biden invokes his father to basically shake down and extort the Chinese to not send the money to SinoHawk Holdings and send it directly to a new entity that he worked overtime to form so he could put the money in his own pocket and Jim Biden’s pocket.

Mr. Goldman. That clearly upsets you.

Mr. Bobulinski. Have you ever been defrauded in your life?

Mr. Goldman. No. I’m just —

Mr. Bobulinski. Have you ever been defrauded?

Mr. Goldman. I’d like the record to reflect that Mr. Bobulinski was —

Mr. Bobulinski. You want to answer the question?

Mr. Goldman. No. I ask the questions, you answer the questions. You’re the witness.

And I would like the record to reflect that Mr. Bobulinski raised his voice as he was explaining that the —

Mr. Bobulinski. I clearly — hold on. Hold on. For the record — hold on, Mr. Goldman.

For the record, I was defrauded at the end of July 2017 by the Biden family. And as would anybody be, I was disappointed, frustrated, and angry that I was defrauded as a businessman that worked extremely hard to put this business together.

Mr. Goldman. And you’re still angry, right? You’re still angry, aren’t you?

Mr. Bobulinski. I’m angry that the American people have been lied to for four years about the facts of Joe Biden —

Mr. Goldman. You’re not angry about being defrauded?

Mr. Bobulinski. No. I’m a wealthy individual.

The money that Joe — the Bidens — took from me is less than $2 million at the time. I would donate that to whatever charity you would ask me to donate that to, Mr. Goldman.

Mr. Goldman. So you’re over it now?

Mr. Bobulinski. I’m over which aspect of it?

Mr. Goldman. You’re over being what you claim to be defrauded?

Mr. Bobulinski. I am angry that the American people continue to be lied about — lied to about Joe Biden and the Bidens’ involvement in —

Mr. Goldman. I appreciate that. It’s not your own financial interest. I get it.

You’re just here having nothing to do with that.

I’ll turn it back over to counsel.

From there, staffers tried to get Bobulinski to admit that the business deal he signed was with only Hunter and Jim, not Joe. Bobulinski, as he did over and over when the facts didn’t match his claims, accused people of lying. So Goldman and the staffers riffed about all the people Bobulinski had accused of lying.

Mr. [redacted]. The Biden family — the Biden family — exhibit 6, your partners are — called Bidens — are James Biden and Hunter Biden, right?

Mr. Bobulinski. Why did I meet with Joe Biden? You are obfuscating the facts of what transpired by talking —

Mr. Goldman. Sir, he’s asking you a simple question.

Mr. Bobulinski. It isn’t a simple question, Congressman Goldman.

Mr. Goldman. It’s not a simple question?

Mr. Bobulinski. No, it’s not a simple question.

Mr. Goldman. Who are the partners from the LLC?

Mr. Bobulinski. You continue to lie and obfuscate the facts to the American people. That’s why my voice is raised —

Mr. Goldman. Good. So now we’re back —

Mr. Bobulinski. — because he’s about to do it.

Mr. Goldman. So the FBI, The Wall Street Journal, Cassidy Hutchinson, all of us — there was another one. Who else lied? Yeah, the FBI agents. We’ve got that.

Mr. [redacted]. Rob Walker.

Mr. Goldman. Rob Walker.

Mr. [redacted]. James Gilliar.

Mr. Goldman. James Gilliar.

Mr. Passantino. Are there questions here pending?

Mr. Bobulinski. Do you have a question?

The Democratic staffer returned to the Oneida Holdings agreement between Bobulinski and Hunter Biden and — after much pulling of teeth — got Bobunlinski to admit that Joe Biden was not one of his partners.

Q You signed a limited liability agreement for Oneida Holdings, LLC, correct?

A I did.

Q And this is a truthful and accurate document about the organization of the company, right?

A It is. It’s a binding legal agreement.

Q You wouldn’t sign —

A That’s why I can confidently state they defrauded me in July of 2017, yes.

Q You wouldn’t sign your name to a false document, right?

A Of course not.

Q And this document accurately sets out who your business partners are, right?

A That’s a vague question, “accurately.” It commemorates who ultimately was —

Q The LLC document does not care about —

A Wait, wait, wait.

Q No. My questions, Mr. Bobulinski.

Are you — is your testimony here today that this limited liability company agreement does not clearly set forth the partners of Oneida Holdings, LLC?

A That was not my testimony. My testimony was that that executed agreement clearly defines there are five entities that own 20 percent each. I’ve gone through that, I think, now three times.

Q And those entities are Hunter Biden’s entities? A Correct.

Q James Biden’s entities?

A Correct.

Q John Walker’s entity?

A Well, not John Walker. Don’t misstate for the record.

Q John R. Walker.

A Rob Walker.


Q Mr. Bobulinski, I’m just trying to ask you who your partners in Oneida 10 Holdings, LLC are. This isn’t supposed to be a hard question.


BY MR. [redacted]:

Q This is a simple question, who his partners are.

A And I’m giving you simple answers. I’ve already testified to this three — I think, three times at this point.

Q So then let’s do it quickly. Your partners are Hunter Biden, James Biden, Rob Walker, James Gilliar, and yourself?

A Yeah, that’s an incorrect statement. My partners were the LLCs that represented Hunter Biden, Jim Biden, Rob Walker, James Gilliar, and myself.

Q Okay. Great.

And when you say that your — the Biden family cheated you, your partners —

A It’s called fraud.

Q Defrauded you.

A I used the specific word.

Q You’re referring to — you’re referring to James Hunter — James Biden and Hunter Biden, who opened Hudson West III. Is that correct?

A Ask the question. But, generally, I think.

Q Okay. So when you’re talking about the Biden — your partnerships with the 22 Biden family, you’re talking about Hunter Biden and James Biden?

A That’s not what I’m talking about. I’ve spent at least almost four hours now 24 talking about my meetings with Joe Biden, how Joe Biden was invoked, us trying to get 25 Joe Biden to a meeting in New York, and stuff like that, so I don’t —

Q Joe Biden was your partner?

There were some other choice moments, such as when Bobulinski treated the prospect of Trump taking CEFC money while Commander-in-Chief as merely hypothetical…

Q There was a report that came out in January in which the Oversight Committee Democratic staff showed with receipts that Donald Trump, while he was Commander in Chief, received money from CEFC.

Assuming that fact to be true, does that give you concern?

A I think your question is actually absurd, and the statement is absurd, because if you could show me that money — you’re acting — I guess you’re asking me to opine that did CEFC give Donald Trump money directly into his pocket. I can’t opine on that.

Q I’m just asking you if he were to have received money from CEFC, would you find that troubling? You just described at length how concerned you were at CEFC, the national security implications.

I’m asking you, a Commander in Chief —

A You’re asking me a hypothetical, and you want me to respond to the hypothetical?

Q Sure.

Mr. Passantino. You can respond to the best of —

Mr. Bobulinski. I would be just as concerned — maybe my answer would be, if the Trump family had done with CEFC what the Biden family had done, I would be equally as vocal and concerned about our national security and voicing those concerns and getting those facts out to the American people. I never did business with the Trump family. I never considered doing business and all that stuff, so I —

After which, in the next hour, Bobulinski corrected a Republican staffer who later said that allegation was mostly about Trump’s fancy DC hotel (though went on to say the condo via which CEFC paid Trump was about its location across from the UN, not Trump’s name).

Q And I just want to clarify one hypothetical that the minority brought up, which is if Donald Trump, Vice President, received any money from CEFC, I think some material facts that they omitted from that is that Donald Trump had a very famous hotel in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

And so they did not tell you in their hypothetical that, as part of the money that they’re describing, it’s people staying at his hotel.

A Okay. I didn’t — I’ve seen some articles reference that CEFC had a condo.

I was never in the condo, but if you read the 1,200 pages of the Patrick Ho trial, they reference that condo in Trump Tower New York that was — there’s a reason why.

If it was called the Smith Tower, they would have had one in the Smith Tower.

Democrats focused remarkably little on Bobulinski’s relationship with the son of Viktor Vekselberg (one of the issues that gave Rob Walker concern with doing business with Bobulinski). After he complained amounted to smearing him with, “Russia Russia Russia,” Democrats dropped it (and didn’t pursue other allegations of ties to Russian money or his inconsistent statements about the role of Rosneft in the split over CEFC).

Q And, when you were in Las Vegas, you were there with somebody named Alex Vekselberg, correct?

A Ask the question again.

Q Alex Vekselberg, you were in Las Vegas with Alex Vekselberg?

A I wasn’t there with him. He was in Las Vegas for other things, but he did —

Q At some point, you were together with him in Las Vegas?

A I was. I was, correct.

Q And you know that Mr. Vekselberg is the son of Viktor Vekselberg?

A Well, I know that Alex Vekselberg is an American citizen born in the United States, a Yale-educated individual and a successful businessman in his own right. And I do know that he is the son of Viktor Vekselberg.

Q And you know that Viktor Vekselberg is a Russian oligarch who’s been sanctioned now by the United States several times?

A It’s actually funny you should ask me that. I’m actually surprised you guys don’t know this. Viktor Vekselberg was actually born in Ukraine. So he’s not a Russian.

He’s a Ukrainian businessman. You can look it up. I think I was born within a hundred miles of the Polish border, and so he’s a Ukrainian businessman.

And I don’t — I’m not aware of — I thought you guys were big supporters of Ukraine. You try to use Russia to paint different things, but he’s actually — my understanding, just — you can look it up. He was born in Ukraine. And — and so your question?

Q Oh, I think you answered my question.

A Okay, great. Oh, sorry, I didn’t answer your question. You asked — you made some reference to sanctions. I’m not aware of that and when that happened and all those nuances. But, once again, I can’t, because —

Q Well, you do know where he was born within a hundred miles.

A Well, because I looked it up, right? I wasn’t told that. I looked it up.

Everyone in here can look it up. And, second, I want to reiterate that Alex Vekselberg is an American citizen afforded the same rights, respect as you and I. Well, I can’t speak for you, that I am as an American citizen. And, at the time I had that meeting in Las Vegas, his father was not sanctioned by the United States.

Mr. [redacted] Do you not believe my colleague is deserving of rights and respect?

Mr. Passantino. If you’re going to accuse him of associating with Russian oligarchs, that’s the answer you’re going to get.

Mr. [redacted]. We’ve not accused him of anything.

Mr. Bobulinski. No, no, no, no. Yes, you have. Yes, you have. No, no, no.

Your operatives — no, no, no.

Mr. [redacted]. We’re not accusing you of anything.

Mr. Bobulinski. Your Democratic operatives have written smearing stuff about Russia, Russia, Russia, attacking my family and myself, and it’s disgusting to me. I’m a former Naval officer —

Mr. [redacted]. Let me ask you a question.

Mr. Bobulinski. — who had the highest security clearance. So wait. To your question, I didn’t show her — I said I can’t assume she’s an American citizen. I don’t know that she’s an American citizen. I said he should be afforded all the rights and respect of an American citizen, as should I. If you’re an American citizen, then you should be afforded those same rights and respect.

That’s all background to Bobulinski’s alternative narrative about how he decided to take on Joe Biden — which he says started during the 2019 Trump impeachment and which led up — as Democratic staffers reviewed — to his pitch to the WSJ before the Hunter Biden laptop came out in 2020.

Q So you expressed the reasons you came forward. You said the first cog was the impeachment of Donald Trump. The second cog was the nomination of Joe Biden.

You came out with this information publicly just before, weeks before the 2020 Presidential election. Is that correct?

A It’s not a true statement. And, second, it wasn’t that Donald Trump is the individual who was being impeached. It was that a President of the United States was being impeached with the obfuscation of how the Biden family operated and did business around the world. That was my frustration, anger.

And so I started thinking I know them to operate and how they operate his business. There’s lies being told and obfuscation. So it wasn’t specific to Donald Trump as an individual. It was specific to a President of the United States being impeached over what I believed were lies about how the Biden family did business around the world and operated.

Q Thank you. Your October 2020 press conference at the Marriott in Nashville, Tennessee, who organized that for you?

Mr. Passantino. I guess you can answer, again, to the extent you know.

Mr. Bobulinski. Organized what for me exactly, I’m asking?

In the end, Bobulinski kept obfuscating about his ties to the Trump campaign.

But he did tie his involvement in this attempt to impeach Joe Biden with the first attempt to impeach Donald Trump.

A Second Trump Term Would Replace Competent Corrupt People with Incompetent Ones

Steve Neukam is one of the Messenger scribes who often chases Dick Pics with little care for the actual evidence.

In the middle of a paragraph quoting an anonymous Republican saying that Republicans don’t even need direct financial ties to Joe Biden to impeach him, for example, Neukam treats the factual explanation that Republicans are trying to impeach Joe Biden based on loans he made to his family while a private citizen as a brush-off.

The source close to Trump also said Comer “set the bar too high” for an impeachable offense, attempting to prove a direct payment to Joe Biden in the probe. The investigation spent weeks rolling out payments to Joe Biden from Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s son and brother, which the White House and Biden allies brushed off as loan repayments. Proving a direct payment to the president, the source said, was not necessary. [my emphasis]

But by being a committed Dick Pic Sniffer, Neukam has hit paydirt with a story quoting a slew of MAGAts trying to blame James Comer, and James Comer exclusively, that Republicans haven’t even succeeded in the single thing they tried to do with their House majority last year: Impeach Joe Biden.

Comer has led a”clueless investigation” at best and — at worst — “a disaster.”

“It’s been a parade of embarrassments.”


“James Comer continues to embarrass himself and House Republicans. He screws up over and over and over,” the source said. “I don’t know how Republicans actually impeach the president based on his clueless investigation and lack of leadership.”


“It seems like they got played by Hunter Biden,” one senior House GOP aide said. “It was a disaster. They looked like buffoons.”

Behind these hilarious quotes, however, is a particular power structure, one that is actually far more telling than the quotes.

The same article that claims that Comer’s problem is that he was picked because of his fundraising prowess…

“This is why we shouldn’t pick our chairman based on how much money they raise,” another member told Moskowitz, according to the congressman.

… Has these two deliciously contradictory claims about Mike Johnson’s impotence, a Speaker picked in spite of his non-existing fundraising record.

The Republican lawmaker who took his complaints of Comer to the speaker’s office was told that Johnson is aware of the problem, agrees with the criticism but can’t really do much other than watch and shake his head, the lawmaker told The Messenger.


Top House Republicans stand next to Comer amid the intra-party criticism. Johnson told The Messenger that he is “fully supportive” of the chairman’s work.

“I am grateful for the superb efforts of Chairman Comer,” the speaker said in a statement to The Messenger. “Without his and the other investigators’ work, we wouldn’t have uncovered the millions in foreign funds going to the Biden family, the dozens of exchanges between the President and Hunter Biden’s clients, and the litany of lies the White House has told.”

Meanwhile, at least some of the people griping are people close to Trump venting because the House GOP hasn’t delivered on Trump’s demands.

Twice-impeached Trump himself threatened House Republicans in August to impeach Biden “or fade into OBLIVION.”


“You have to start producing,” a Trump ally said. “The base is starting to get more and more frustrated with him because they see all this smoke but they don’t see the movement.”

It is virtually certain that many of the Republicans quoted here (with the possible exception of Jim Jordan’s chief counsel Steve Castor) suffer from the very same problems James Comer has faced in this investigation. They’re incompetent. They exist in a Fox/Newsmax bubble that rewards feral loyalty, incompetence, and lies. When exposed to any real scrutiny, those lies crumble.

You won’t find them reflecting on whether their own false claims have contributed to the hilarity of Comer’s failures. Amid increasing concerns that Republicans will lose the House in November, they’re busy passing the blame, even while they ignore an even bigger underlying problem.

One reason this impeachment has failed, thus far, is because they’re pursuing impeachment for the sake of impeachment. One reason this impeachment has failed, thus far, is because the House GOP has dedicated their entire first year to delivering whatever Trump demanded, when he demanded it, irrespective of whether it served their own interests or was justified by anything but Trump’s petulant demands.

Of course, none of the Republicans quoted here (Neukam also relies on Jared Moskowitz’s second-hand claims about what Republicans have told him) would admit they’re no different than Comer. They could do no better.

The Republicans on these committees have, like Comer, gleefully made false claims about smoking guns for which they had no evidence, for example. These Republicans continue to chase every one of Comer’s new diversions, in hope somewhere there’ll be evidence.

This is the persistent problem with claims — renewed today from the NYT team — that Trump will use DOJ to pursue partisan retribution.

[Maggie] He and his allies have also been clear that a big agenda item is eroding the Justice Department’s independence.

Charlie: Yes, Trump has vowed to use his power over the Justice Department to turn it into an instrument of vengeance against his political adversaries. This would end the post-Watergate norm that the department carries out criminal investigations independently of White House political control, and it would be a big deal for American-style democracy.

He already did this!!! No matter how many times NYT claims this would be a new development, none of it can eliminate the evidence that Trump’s focus on retribution began when he ordered investigations into Hillary and John Kerry under Jeff Sessions and accelerated as Bill Barr tried to find ways to charge Hillary and other Democrats for Trump’s efforts to cozy up to Russia. These efforts continue, with wild success, as Trump’s demands for a Hunter Biden investigation finally bore fruit.

As people consider the dangers of a second Trump term — and make no mistake, it could end American democracy — they need to consider whether incompetent corrupt partisans like James Comer will be any more effective than what Bill Barr already tried. Hell, under Barr, DOJ altered evidence to attempt to implicate Joe Biden in Trump’s corruption. John Durham fabricated a claim to impugn Hillary, but still couldn’t make charges against her attorney stick.

The difference — the one place where Comer, and to a much greater degree, Jim Jordan — have succeeded where Barr did not is not in the quasi-legal outcome. Rather, it is in ginning up threats against — seemingly — every single adverse witness.

The incompetent corrupt people that Trump is relying on while disavowing his past competent agents of retribution are really really good at one thing: Sowing political violence. But it’s not clear they’d be any better at politicizing DOJ than Trump already managed.

“What it gets at is just facts:” MAGAts Learn to Love Long-Delayed Interview Reports

I spent much of my day reading the transcript from Hunter Biden attorney Kevin Morris’ deposition by the House. (xitter thread here)

It was a predictable shit show.

And some details — such as Morris’ disclosure that the only reason he contributed $11,000 on Hunter’s behalf pertaining to a Porsche in 2020 was to pay it off to the point that he could sell it — confirm that David Weiss was spinning Hunter’s expenses on the tax indictment to put them in the worst possible light.

But there’s a particular meltdown that deserves further attention. One of the GOP staffers was grilling Morris about the references to him recorded in a Joseph Ziegler interview report from a September 29, 2022 interview of James Biden, which would have been the last substantive interview of the investigation before David Weiss reopened it last year.

These bullet points are Ziegler’s representation of what James Biden had to say about Morris; they were asking him about a March 2020 communication from a period when Morris was putting together a plan to get Hunter’s life back on track, including by filing his tax returns. If Ziegler’s representation is accurate, the President’s brother is not terrifically enamored of Hunter’s benefactor.

Text Dated March 2020:

a. Kevin Morris (“Morris”) was an attorney for SouthPark and the Book of Mormon. Morris is a very wealthy guy. Morris had befriended RHB. James B didn’t know why or when this occurred.

b. James B was asked by DOJ-Tax attorney Daly what “World Class of People” referred to? James B thought that this could be attorneys and could mean anything. Morris has a huge ego in being a successful entertainment attorney. RHB wasn’t interfacing with anyone during this time except for Morris and one other guy who flipped houses named George.

c. Morris was helping RHB a lot, but James B didn’t know why. James B thought that this might have been because of his ego. RHB asked James B to thank Morris because Morris requested a thank you. James B had no understanding of what the team of people means and has no knowledge of what Morris had done for RHB. James B was not sure if there was a loan between Morris and RHB. James B thought that the money was significant enough that RHB asked his uncle to say something to Morris and thank him. James B didn’t recall a specific discussion only to say thank you “on behalf of the family”.

d. James B recalled that when RHB was being vilified by the media, Morris had sent a film crew to Bulgaria. Morris was there with his film crew monitoring a documentary trying to defame RHB.

e. James B only met Morris 3-4 times. Morris wanted James B to come work for him and James B told Morris that he was not interested. James B met Morris at his home. Morris also came to RHB’s house for a picnic in which James B attended.

f. James B recalled Morris making a comment that if RHB’s attorneys weren’t going to listen to him, then he wanted nothing to do with them.

g. James B stated that Morris thought he was very knowledgeable “politically,” but James B thought otherwise.

h. James B was not aware if Morris asked RHB for anything else other than a thank you. RHB was very closed lip about Morris. [my emphasis]

So a Republican staffer takes this passage and then asks Morris what James Biden meant when he said that he, Morris, was not very knowledgable politically, an observation there’s no reason to believe Morris had heard directly.

Mr [redacted]. If you go to 51(g), just a little bit lower, it says, “James Biden recalled Morris making a comment” — or excuse me.

Mr. Sullivan. (f), you mean?

Mr. (g): “James B stated that Morris thought he was very knowledgeable ‘politically,’ but James B thought otherwise.” Do you know why James Biden would say that you thought you were politically savvy?

Morris balks. Hours into this deposition, he doesn’t simply point out he would have no way of knowing. Based on what he knows about James Biden, he doubts the representation is accurate. He, a Hollywood lawyer, cites Law and Order.

Mr. Morris. I don’t believe that he said it.

Look, counsel, this is not a transcript. These are the notes of a law enforcement official, you know, trying to, you know, trying to get a case going. All you have to do is watch one episode of “Law & Order” to know that that’s not often — it’s not always accurate.

GOP staffer then makes of Morris’ comment something it isn’t.

Mr. [redacted] So you’re saying you never had any political conversations with James Biden?

Mr. Morris. No, I don’t remember any political conversations with Jim.

A Dem staffer, perhaps seeing this about to go off the rails, notes that this is not a contemporary record of the interview.

Mr. [redacted, seemingly a Dem staffer] And can we just establish for the record that this is a memorandum of interview for an interview that took place September 29th, 2022. And as is noted on the last page, Agent Ziegler notes in it, “I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory –“

Which leads things to go after the rails. For at least the second time in the deposition, a Republican staffer defends Joseph Ziegler’s honor, as if he hadn’t already been caught in misrepresentations of these events.

Mr. [redacted] Are you disputing the accuracy of the — of this memo?

Mr. [redacted] “– from notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden.”

The Reporter asks people to stop interrupting each other.

The Reporter. You have to repeat. I had two people talking at the same time.

Mr. [redacted] I’m just noting that at the end it says, “I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory with notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden.”

I’m — this is just — I’m just reading from the —

[1:39 p.m.]

Mr. [redacted] It’s in the — we’ve entered it into the record. So the notes were made — if we’re going to — we’re going to pause if you want to maybe ask questions.

Ms. [redacted] We can pause.

A seeming Republican argues that since this is already in the record it must be taken as Gospel.

 Mr. [redacted] There were notes that were taken with this. So I don’t know what the point of that was since it’s already in the record.

Ms. [redacted] I think the point is that this is not a contemporaneous memorandum.

Another Democratic staffer notes this is not a contemporaneous record.

That this was actually written down several days, actually a couple weeks after the interview. And it says on the face of it that Mr. Ziegler had to refresh his memory from  notes. So I think, you know, it is — it’s as valuable as the paper it’s written on, but it says on its face that it’s not contemporaneous. I think that’s the point we’re making.

Mr. [redacted] And I’m just making that point in the interactions or comments that James Biden said X, and I just want to be clear that what this document says about what it is and what it is not.

A likely Republican says that because ten people attended the interview, all must have vouched for the accuracy of the memo.

Mr. [redacted] There’s also 10 people present here. And, presumably, Mr. Ziegler, when he prepared this, he circulated, at least to the internal folks, to make sure that he had it accurate, right?

Kevin Morris is not having it. He notes only one other person, Christine Puglisi, signed it.

Mr. Morris. No, we don’t know that. I’m not presuming what Mr. Ziegler said.

I mean, it is signed by Mr. Ziegler and by another special agent. And I am just reading the caveat that’s noted above his own signature. I’m not speculating —

Someone complains that they’ve gone off the rails.

Mr. [redacted] We’re getting a little bit —

The court reporter begs, again, for people to stop talking over each other.

The Reporter. Can we speak one at a time, please.

Morris’ attorney points out what Morris might have: The House shouldn’t be pushing on this in any case, because Morris has no personal knowledge of the interview.

Mr. Sullivan [Morris attorney]. Sorry. For me as the counsel for the witness, I am just saying, the questions are being asked about, based on this memo, that Mr. Morris has no personal knowledge of anything that was actually said. If this is true, we just don’t know. We don’t have any personal knowledge of whether this is.

Mr. [redacted] Fair enough.

Mr. Sullivan. That is my main concern — questions about that —

The Republicans will not be deterred.

Mr. [redacted] Jim Biden mentions —

The court reporter tries, again, to get people to stop talking over each other.

Mr. Reporter. One at a time, please.

The Republicans will not be deterred.

Mr. [redacted] Jim Biden mentions Mr. Morris. Here we’re simply asking questions to the extent you can answer it. Or if you disagree with it, you can tell us what you can tell us, and that’s where we’ll be.

Morris repeats that this transcript doesn’t sound like Jim Biden, but also notes that even if he did, it doesn’t get Republicans to where they want to get.

Mr. Morris. And counsel what I’m saying is, I do question the validity of this. I do question a lot of it. Some of it sounds lake stuff Jim would never say. But, in any event, I don’t believe — you know, were it all true, I don’t know where this gets you. Like if, you know — and I could be speculating about what Jimmy said in front of investigators, you know, written down by the memo and not on a transcript.

In response to which, a Republican asserts that this transcript, which Morris contests, relaying claims to which Morris has no personal knowledge, “gets at is just facts.”

Mr. [redacted] What it gets at is just facts. I mean, we’re just trying to ask you questions as fast as we can.

It’s nice to know these committees are just as much of a shit show behind closed doors as are the hearings hosted by James Comer.

But the dispute is worth closer look. The point the Democrats are making is that this interview of James Biden — the last interview of this investigation — was not written up for 34 days. The interview was held on September 29, 2022. Ziegler described that, starting 11 days after the interview, he wrote it up over a period of 23 days, from October 10 to November 2.

I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory from notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden. [my emphasis]

Not only that, but Ziegler corrected himself: he didn’t write the memo on a particular day, he wrote it over a more than three week period just before the 2022 midterms.

Remember: It is an article of faith that there must have been political interference because it took 22 days to write up an interview report of Mike Flynn’s January 24, 2017 interview, which was finalized on February 15, 2017. This conspiracy theory frothed Republicans up but good for — I kid you not — 675 days until, after a series of backflips to invent some reason to throw out the Flynn prosecution, Bill Barr’s DOJ admitted the conspiracy theory was based on fluff. There was no original 302, they admitted after Sidney Powell spent years leading MAGAts to believe there was.

The delay in finalizing Flynn’s 302, which is actually far too routine, was a core piece of “proof” in the conspiracy theories that Flynn was wrongfully prosecuted.

And here, an interview report of the President’s brother took 12 days longer to complete than Flynn’s (which is still not that long compared to far too many interview reports). Worse still, during that entire period, Ziegler’s boss and close ally on this case, Gary Shapley, was busy inventing a reason to blow up the case. Ziegler didn’t even begin to write up this interview until after the October 6 leak and the October 7 meeting that has since roiled the case.

Honestly, Morris should have started where he ultimately ended up: noting that even if the interview report recorded James Biden accurately, it didn’t help Republicans’ conspiracy theories.

But by raising questions about whether Ziegler, at a time when he and Shapley were inventing conspiracy theories about this case, accurately recorded the President’s brother, he invited Republicans to demonstrate just how little they really care about delayed interview reports.

For Almost a Year, “Jim Jordan” Has Been Saying Hunter Biden Didn’t Need to Testify

I came to the Hunter Biden beat a bit late — only after I read Gary Shapley’s testimony. And so when Democrats mentioned that Abbe Lowell had sent Congress six letters in last week’s circus hearing — only two of which were cited in the contempt referral — I realized I hadn’t read them all.

I posted them all below.

It turns out, the two earliest ones — the ones I hadn’t read, ones which were sent to James Comer but not Jim Jordan — Abbe Lowell cited Jordan to lay out the impropriety of the requests for information from Hunter.

We know, from the Steve Bannon prosecution, that were the House to refer Hunter Biden for contempt, the first thing DOJ would do is ask for paperwork from both sides. On the January 6 Committee side, that all went through senior staffers. On Bannon’s side, Robert Costello claimed to have certain representations from Trump, but when asked, he admitted he didn’t have anything to backup that claim (Peter Navarro had still less since he didn’t lawyer up until after being charged). DOJ went so far as to get Costello’s call records to make sure there weren’t communications they didn’t know about.

Here, the first thing Abbe Lowell would do if Hunter were referred to contempt would be to share the six letters he had sent, documenting the authority on which he was relying for asking for further accommodations. The Oversight contempt referral — and even the letter issued Sunday moving toward setting up a deposition — made no mention of the earlier letters. As I noted, when DOJ asked the staffers in charge of the contempt referral what had happened, that hapless person would have to explain why the Committee withheld relevant documents from its contempt referral.

But as I also noted, even when relying on just the more recent letter, Jordan has said enough about the authority of subpoenas that he risked being a witness in any contempt investigation and then trial, something Bennie Thompson studiously avoided by letting staffers manage the guts of the legal issues.

That may explain why Jordan, whose chief counsel Steve Castor is bad faith but a good lawyer, saw the wisdom of issuing a new subpoena.

There’s still a conflict here. Lowell suggested hybrid accommodation in his letter from last week.

You have not explained why you are not interested in transparency and having the American people witness the full and complete testimony of Mr. Biden at a public hearing. If you issue a new proper subpoena, now that there is a duly authorized impeachment inquiry, Mr. Biden will comply for a hearing or deposition. 33 We will accept such a subpoena on Mr. Biden’s behalf.

33 During the January 10, 2024, Judiciary Committee markup, Representative Glenn Ivey suggested a procedure for a hybrid process—a public deposition/hearing with alternating rounds of questions for Republicans and Democrats, and with similar rules (e.g., role of counsel in questioning), as is done in a closed-door deposition. Four Republicans actually voted in committee in support of this process. Perhaps that could be the basis for our discussion.

In Sunday’s letter, Jordan and Comer rejected that, falsely claiming that the rules prohibit it (and ignoring Comer’s offer of public testimony in the past, something that came up in the contempt hearing).

While we welcome Mr. Biden’s public testimony at the appropriate time, he must appear for a deposition that conforms to the House Rules and the rules and practices of the Committees, just like every other witness before the Committees.26

26 For this reason, the Committees cannot accept the so-called “hybrid process” you propose. See January 12 Letter, supra note 1, at 8 n.33

I would not be surprised if Lowell did what Jim Comey did back in 2018, when House Republicans were conducting a similarly politicized non-public investigation into the Russian investigation. He sued to quash the subpoena, largely in an attempt to get some means of preventing Members from making false claims while hiding the transcript. That ended with an agreement that the House would release the transcript a day after the testimony.

The letter Lowell sent Mike Johnson on November 8 already extensively documented the false claims that Republicans had made about Hunter. There are some interesting false claims in the HJC report on the Hunter investigation that would not only further substantiate the need for transparency, but would also bolster Hunter’s claim — made in a motion to dismiss — that the House is unconstitutionally trying to conduct a prosecution of him.

Plus, there are other details of Jordan’s investigation — most notably the threats, which Becca Balint laid out during the contempt hearing last week. It is absolutely critical to Hunter Biden’s legal case that US Attorneys David Weiss and Martin Estrada as well as FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Sobocinski testified that threats were made in conjunction with this investigation, threats that in Delaware’s case preceded a radical reversal on the prosecutorial decision. Yet Jordan is sitting on that testimony.

Most people, myself included, think it’d be insane for someone fighting two indictments to appear before a hostile committee, much less without some means of acquiring his own record. But at the same time, Jordan keeps providing Lowell more evidence that the House, not DOJ, is the branch of government driving that prosecution.

1. February 9, 2023: Re request for documents [Comer]

[T]hen Ranking Member Jim Jordan (who sat next to you at your February 8th hearing) stated that a subpoena of President Trump and his family’s personal records was “an unprecedented abuse of the Committee’s subpoena authority[.]”1 Mr. Jordan described the subpoena for financial and business records as an “irresponsible and gravely dangerous course of conduct in a singular obsession of attacking President Trump and his family for political gain.”2 Mr. Jordan feared that Chairman Cummings would selectively release information gained from the subpoena “in a misleading fashion to create a false narrative for partisan political gain.”3


Representative Jordan, citing Watkins, even emphasized that private persons have a limited place in Committee investigations: “[t]he Supreme Court has cautioned that Congress does not have ‘general authority to expose the private affairs of individuals without justification in terms of the functions of the Congress.’”4

2. June 14, 2023: Re records from art dealer Georges Bergès [Comer]

I am sure you will remember that it was now Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, in his hollering about the subpoena issued to the Presidents’ accounting firm, citing to the same Waikins case, who stated that private persons have a limited place in Committee investigations: “[t]he Supreme Court has cautioned that Congress does not have ‘general authority to expose the private affairs of individuals without justification in terms of the functions of the Congress. ™


Let me remind you what then-Ranking Member Jim Jordan stated: that a subpoena of President Trump and his family’s personal records was “an unprecedented abuse of the Committee’s subpoena authority[.]”* (emphasis added). Mr. Jordan described the subpoena for financial and business records as an “irresponsible and gravely dangerous course of conduct in a singular obsession of attacking President Trump and his family for political gain.” (emphasis added). 1 explained in February that Mr. Jordan stated he feared that Chairman Elijah Cummings ‘would selectively release information gained from the subpoena “in a misleading fashion to create a false narrative for partisan political gain.”


No sooner did You obtain these financial records then, as admitted in you letter, you released them to the public in your “First Bank Records Memorandum.” In so doing, you decided to ignore the warning of your colleague Chairman Jordan, who cautioned that Democrats would selectively release information gained from the subpoena “in a misleading fashion to create a false namative for partisan political gain.” Oh, what a difference a few years and a change in leadership has made.

3. September 13, 2023: Re Newsmax appearance [Comer]

I write on behalf of our client regarding your statement this morning, September 13, on Newsmax, in which you stated, “We’re headed to court, more than likely. We’ve requested bank records from Hunter Biden and Jim Biden early on, and obviously we never got a response back. We will re-request those this week; if they do not comply with our request, then we will subpoena and no doubt, undoubtedly head to court.”1 Your statement was surprising as it ignores our prior exchanges.


We ask that you correct what you said, but more importantly, we remain available to have the discussion that I suggested some seven months ago.

4. November 8, 2023, to Mike Johnson: On false claims made by Republicans [Comer, Jordan, and Smith]

Chairman Jordan, for his part, used his airtime on November 1 to spew false, recycled, and debunked claims about Hunter’s time serving on the board of directors of Burisma, wielding it as an excuse to justify his obsession with pursuing an “impeachment inquiry” into President Biden when he declared: “Hunter Biden gets put on the Board of Burisma, fact number one. Fact number two, he’s not qualified to be on the Board of Burisma. Fact number three, the head of Burisma asks Hunter Biden, ‘can you help us relieve the pressure we are under from the Ukrainian prosecutor?’ Fact number four, Joe Biden does just that.” 9


As to Chairman Jordan’s made-up, nonsensical claim that “the head of Burisma ask[ed] Hunter Biden, ‘can you help us relieve the pressure we are under from the Ukrainian prosecutor?,’” I simply would ask Chairman Jordan: what evidence do you have and when is it coming? The answer is “none” and “never.” For all the hours, months, and years Chairman Jordan and others (e.g., Senators Grassley and Johnson) have spent trying to invent a scheme in which Hunter assisted Burisma in any illicit or inappropriate way to “relieve the pressure” stemming from a Ukrainian corruption investigation, while his father was Vice President, they have produced an alarmingly scant amount of proof to show for their claims. Opposite evidence abounds.

5. November 28, 2023: In response to Comer’s Newsmax appearance [Comer and Jordan]

Mr. Chairman, we take you up on your offer. Accordingly, our client will get right to it by agreeing to answer any pertinent and relevant question you or your colleagues might have, but— rather than subscribing to your cloaked, one-sided process—he will appear at a public Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing. To quote your November 8, 2023, letter accompanying the subpoena, “Given your client’s willingness to address this investigation publicly up to this point, we would expect him to be willing to testify before Congress.”6 He is, Mr. Chairman. A public proceeding would prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements.

December 6, 2023: Public testimony [Comer and Jordan]

As indicated in my November 28, 2023, letter, Mr. Biden has offered to appear at a hearing on the December 13, 2023, date you have reserved, or another date this month, to answer any question pertinent and relevant to the subject matter stated in your November 8, 2023, letter. He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public—a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceeding

January 12, 2024: After contempt [Comer and Jordan]

And you, Chairman Jordan, during a House Republican leadership press conference immediately after the actual impeachment inquiry resolution vote finally occurred,stated: “I want you all to think about something. This morning, I was in an impeachment deposition, but then had to leave that to come to the floor for a vote on the rules for impeachment. That [] says it all about this entire process. And it is a sad day.” 11


You noticed an impeachment deposition a month before an impeachment inquiry vote was held to authorize such a deposition. Astonishingly, the sequence of events was the same as 2019. Almost four years to the day that Speaker Pelosi made her statement authorizing impeachment-based subpoenas before a House resolution authorized them, it was now Speaker Kevin McCarthy who, despite criticizing his predecessor for trying to do the same thing, did the same thing. On September 12, 2023, Speaker McCarthy said: “These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption. And they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives. That’s why today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” 12 Chairman Jordan, you should be similarly saddened by your own use of pre–impeachment inquiry subpoenas against Mr. Biden.


Thus, “Resolution 660’s direction, however, was entirely prospective. . . . Accordingly, the pre-October 31 subpoenas, which had not been authorized by the House, continued to lack compulsory force.”19 As Resolution 660 was ineffective in 2019, so is Resolution 917 now. To quote you, Chairman Jordan, during the first impeachment of former President Trump, “[c]odifying a sham process halfway through doesn’t make it any less of a sham process.”


Still further, on December 13, 2023, you issued a joint statement directly tying Mr. Biden’s subpoenasto 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.”27

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.

James Comer’s Second Impeachment Hearing More of a Circus than the First

The House Oversight and Judiciary Committees are attempting to hold split screen mark-up meetings to hold Hunter Biden in contempt.

It was going to be a shit-show in any case. Between the two committees, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs, and Scott Perry all blew off January 6 Committee subpoenas. Ranking Member of the Oversight Committee, Jamie Raskin explained what Perry had done in advance of January 6 as Perry visibly seethed.

Neither Chair — Jordan or Comer — keep their committees in order. Comer in particular has problems keeping Majorie Taylor Greene from doing really outrageous things (Jordan doesn’t make the same efforts to keep Matt Gaetz in line on HJC). Indeed, she attempted to submit something into evidence that led to a halt of the hearing as staffers from both sides discussed whether whatever she had on placards could properly come in; they did not.

One after another Democrat used their turn to focus on the emoluments report they recently released, with Republicans dedicating much of their time trying to explain away that Trump was on the take of China during his presidency, while Comer desperately tried to tie a 2017 or 2018 payment from CEFC to Hunter Biden to his father, after Biden left government.

Every public hearing is going to continue to be like this — testament not just that Donald Trump has done what Republicans have found no evidence showing Biden has — but also showing that rather than government, or funding government, Republicans continue to sniff Hunter Biden’s dick pics.

Democratic Representative Robert Garcia even said that, dick pics, in the hearing.

This is the face Donald Trump has demanded that House Republicans show to the American people.

And then, to make it worse, Hunter Biden showed up himself, with Abbe Lowell in tow.

Nancy Mace immediately accused Hunter of having no balls, because it’s never a House Oversight hearing without Hunter’s genitalia being the central issue.

Comer failed to find a way to get CSPAN to stop tracking how Hunter and his attorney were responding. He similarly was helpless to prevent CSPAN showing his miserable face as Raskin made point after point.

Jared Moskowitz asked for a show of hands of Republicans who wanted to just question Hunter right then and there. Until — as soon as MTG first spoke, they all got up and walked out of the room.

Before the Committees broke for votes, Raskin was taking to calling his colleagues cult members, doing the bidding of Donald Trump.

This is the face of the Republican House. That’s what Donald Trump is demanding will be the face of the Republican House.

Rebuttals to Eric Trump’s Talking Points about His Daddy’s Corruption

Yesterday, the Oversight Democrats released a report showing the fraction of foreign payments Donald Trump accepted from foreign governments while President that they were able to document before James Comer helped Trump cover it all up. The topline result is that while President, Trump was known to have received over $7 million from foreign entities, of which $5.5 came from China.

As I’ll show below, that’s a very partial number, but by itself it says that Trump made as much from foreign governments while President as the entirety of the funds that James Comer has spent a year lying about with respect to private citizen Hunter Biden over a longer period of time.

It’s not Hunter Biden who has been on the foreign take. It’s Donald Trump. And while this report mentions that Trump is basically an employee of Mohammed bin Salman through his LIV Golf relationship, that funding, and a number of other foreign payments Trump and his Oval Office employee family members received is not reflected in the topline of this report.

Thanks to some of my best trolls, I’ve had a flood of stupid MAGAts repeating the talking points fed them to make them comfortable with the fact that Donny was effectively for sale to a slew of foreign governments. So I wanted to talk about how silly those excuses for selling access are.

Start with Eric Trump’s supposed rebuttal, a claim that Trump Organization donated their foreign profits to the US Treasury.

First, Trump Org only did this for a subset of their properties.

[T]he policy substantially limited the scope of “profits” it covered to those (1) “generated from foreign governments’ patronage from wholly-owned Properties,” and (2) “generated from management fees earned from managed hotels and condominium-hotels attributed to foreign governments’ patronage.”71 By excluding non-wholly owned and non-hotel Trump properties, the policy omitted potentially significant sums from the already truncated category of emoluments that it covered. For example, this report identifies more than $1 million in foreign emoluments paid to Trump World Tower in New York which fall outside the scope of The Trump Organization’s policy.

But even ignoring Trump Organization’s famously dodgy accounting, it’s not enough to donate profits. That’s because the revenues permitted Trump to have a DC-based influence peddling shop.

Revenues paid to Trump International DC (which most trolls appear not to understand Trump leased the Old Post Office only from 2016 until 2022; it was not a pre-existing hotel that just happened to become inconvenient when Trump became President) effectively provided Trump a way to have foreign governments pay lease to the US government for a private influence peddling location for him during his Administration, which he then sold for a tidy profit.

A review of financial documents regarding the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., provided by the General Services Administration (GSA) revealed that while President Trump claimed on required financial disclosures that he made $156 million in employment income from the hotel between 2016 and 2020, the hotel in fact lost more than $73 million during this period.74 Reflecting the serious financial problems at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., annual financial statements obtained by the Committee also reveal that one of President Trump’s holding companies, DJT Holdings LLC, injected tens of millions of dollars into the Trump International Hotel as loans, the vast majority of which were never repaid and were later converted to capital contributions. The hotel’s significant losses were due in part to the hotel’s fixed costs, including general and administrative expenses, sales and marketing expenses, and property operations and maintenance.75 Given that the hotel was operating at a significant loss, foreign government revenue would have helped to cover a portion of these fixed costs, even if alleged “profits” were donated.

Plus, there’s no transparency to how Trump Org decided something was a foreign payment. The report notes that Mazars had no accounting for what qualified as foreign payments — meaning, however Trump Org made this calculation, they didn’t share it with their accountants.

Mazars also indicated that it had no specific accounting of foreign government spending at Trump-owned properties. This is stunning in light of former President Trump’s pledge that Trump hotel properties would donate “all profits from foreign government payments” to the U.S. Treasury and the policy announced by The Trump Organization purportedly intended to effectuate that pledge.

And for the things that Oversight did get paperwork for, there were clear discrepancies. The Mazars documentation doesn’t cover all the known foreign spending at Trump International, for example.

Last Congress, based on records provided by GSA, former Committee Chairwoman Maloney estimated that total foreign government payments to just the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., from 2017 through 2019 would have been $3,787,485.117 This estimate was based on the hotel’s representations that, for these three years, it had identified $355,687 in foreign government profits (which it had remitted to DJT Holdings LLC, another Trump-owned entity; which DJT Holdings LLC had remitted to the Trump Corporation; and which the Trump Corporation in turn had “donated” to the U.S. Treasury on behalf of The Trump Organization).118 However, only a fraction of this foreign government spending at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., is reflected in the documents provided by Mazars and discussed in this report.

Of particular concern, Mazars didn’t turn over guest ledgers for Trump’s Inauguration, a period when the hotel was wildly inflating prices and hosting any number of foreign visitors.

Also, James Comer intervened in Mazars’ compliance before they had provided “any documents relating to Russia, South Korea, South Africa, and Brazil.”

There are other big gaps. For example, Mazars didn’t turn over any documentation of other properties that hosted significant numbers of foreign visitors.

Mazars also did not provide any ledgers before the subpoena was terminated for properties which reportedly received a large number of foreign government visitors, including: Trump Turnberry Hotel and Resort in Scotland; Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, Illinois; and Trump International Hotel in New York, New York.

And Mazars didn’t provide any documentation pertaining to 80% of Trump’s properties.

The Committee did not receive from Mazars any documents regarding at least 80% of Donald Trump’s business entities. For many other entities, Mazars produced only a single document.

Finally there were two specific expenses that Mazars claimed to have no record of. Mazars claimed to have no do documentation of ICBC’s nearly two-million dollar a year lease in Trump Tower.

Counsel for Mazars informed the Committee that following a comprehensive search of its records, the firm identified no responsive documents in its database relating to the “Industrial and Commercial Bank of China” or “ICBC.” The absence of these records from Mazars’s files raises troubling concerns about The Trump Organization’s candor with its accounting firm.179

As noted above, this was included in the report, based on other publicly available sources.

Mazars similarly claimed to have no documentation of a $20 million loan from Daewoo.

Spreadsheets prepared by Jeffrey McConney, The Trump Organization’s former controller, reflect that former President Trump’s “LOANS PAYABLE” included a loan for $19,760,000 owed to “L/P Daewoo” as of June 30, 2015.113 This loan remained outstanding until Daewoo was “bought out of its position on July 5, 2017.”114 Critically, as Forbes reported: “Although the debt appeared on The Trump Organization’s internal paperwork, it did not show up on Trump’s public financial disclosure reports, documents he was required to submit to federal officials while running for president and after taking office.”115 Yet Mazars informed the Committee’s Democratic staff it had no records to produce regarding the Daewoo loan.

I believe this payment was not included in this report. But its an instance where Trump’s disclosures covered up a key financial tie.

Finally, there are a number of things that this report did not include in its top line conclusion. Along with the LIV partnership mentioned above, Jared Kushner’s financial entanglements, and Ivanka’s trademarks, this report didn’t include Huwaei or CEFC in its emoluments accounting.

Finally, the documents provided by Mazars also record expenditures at Trump-owned properties by two Chinese companies that are closely aligned with the P.R.C.: Huawei; and Hongkong Huaxin Petroleum Unlimited, a subsidiary of CEFC China Energy (CEFC). While the government of the P.R.C. has been linked with both Huawei and CEFC, given the opacity and convoluted ownership and financing arrangements of these companies, this report does not classify their expenditures among the emoluments paid by the P.R.C. to Trump-owned businesses. However, the receipt by former President Trump’s businesses of expenditures from these entities while Mr. Trump was in office created conflicts of interest.

The Huawei payment (for a conference in Las Vegas) was minor, but CEFC maintained a property in Trump Tower for the entirety of Trump’s term.

In 2012, Hong Kong Huaxin Petroleum Company Limited—a wholly owned subsidiary of CEFC—bought an apartment in Trump World Tower for $5.25 million dollars.235 Hong Kong Huaxin Petroleum Company Limited maintained this property throughout the Trump presidency.236 Records provided to the Committee by Mazars and court documents indicate that Hong Kong Huaxin Petroleum Limited paid a standard common charge of $3,177.20 every month in 2018.237 CEFC listed its apartment at Trump World Tower for sale on October 20, 2020.238 On January 26, 2022, CEFC sold the unit to an anonymous LLC named “845UN 78B LLC” for $4.625 million.239

Assuming that the base charges did not change during the four years of the Trump presidency, Hong Kong Huaxin Petroleum Limited paid Trump World Tower at least $152,505 during the four years of the Trump presidency.240

James Comer has falsely claimed that because Joe Biden’s brother and son paid back personal loans to the then ex-VP with money they were paid by CEFC-associated businesses, it amounts to being paid by CEFC directly (again, during a period when Biden was a private citizen). But meanwhile, by halting Mazars’ compliance with a Congressional subpoena before it was done, Comer may, himself, be covering up details of Trump’s own payments from CEFC-related funds.

Jim Jordan Says Trump’s Years of Blowing Off Subpoenas May Merit Impeachment

In another ploy to get journalists at dick pic-sniffing right wing outlets like JustTheNews and NBC to air false claims, Jim Jordan and James Comer sent the White House a letter demanding any communications the White House had with Hunter Biden or his lawyers about blowing off a subpoena that — the letter itself notes — was issued before the chairmen obtained support of the House to issue impeachment subpoenas.

They base their claim that the President knew his son was going to blow off a subpoena on a misrepresentation of what Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said later that day: that the President was familiar with what his son was going to say.

Look, as you know, Hunter Biden is a private citizen, and so I certainly would refer you to his representatives. Look, the President was certainly familiar with what his son was going to say, and I think what you saw was from the heart from his son. And you’ve heard me say this, you’ve heard the president say this, when it comes to the president and the first lady, they’re proud of him continuing to rebuild his life. They are proud of their son.

Perhaps Jean-Pierre was suggesting Joe Biden knew Hunter would say things like, “James Comer, Jim Jordan, Jason Smith, and their colleagues have distorted the facts,” a true statement similar to comments Joe himself has made. Perhaps Jean-Pierre’s comment meant that Joe Biden knew his son would say that Jordan and Comer, along with Jason Smith, “ridiculed my struggle with addiction [and] belittled my recovery,” something consistent with her own focus on his recovery. Given Jean-Pierre’s observation that “what you saw was from the heart,” perhaps she was referring to Hunter’s tribute to his parents’ love:

During my battle with addiction, my parents were there for me. They literally saved my life. They helped me in ways that I will never be able to repay. And of course they would never expect me to. In the depths of my addiction, I was extremely irresponsible with my finances. But to suggest that is grounds for an impeachment inquiry is beyond the absurd. It’s shameless. There’s no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business because it did not happen.


They have taken the light of my Dad’s love — the light of my Dad’s love for me and presented it as darkness.

There is nothing in her statement that confirms foreknowledge that Hunter would blow off the subpoena, something conceded in the letter that her statement only, “suggests that the President had some amount of advanced knowledge that Mr. Biden would choose to defy two congressional subpoenas” [my emphasis].

Nevertheless, serial liar Comer and subpoena scofflaw Jordan use Jean-Pierre’s statement to insinuate that Joe Biden has committed what they themselves call a potentially impeachable offense of dissuading a subpoena recipient from complying with it.

Later on December 13, when asked whether President Biden had watched Mr. Biden’s statement, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that President Biden was “certainly familiar with what his son was going to say.”11 Ms. Jean-Pierre declined, however, to provide any further details about the President’s actions or whether the President approved of his son defying congressional subpoenas.12 Nonetheless, Ms. Jean-Pierre’s statement suggests that the President had some amount of advanced knowledge that Mr. Biden would choose to defy two congressional subpoenas.

Under the relevant section of the criminal code, it is unlawful to “corruptly . . . endeavor[] to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any investigation or inquiry is being had by . . . any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress[.]”13 Likewise, any person who “aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures” the commission of a crime is punishable as a principal of the crime.14

In light of Ms. Jean-Pierre’s statement, we are compelled to examine the involvement of the President in his son’s scheme to defy the Committees’ subpoenas.


[T]he fact that the President had advanced awareness that Mr. Biden would defy the Committees’ subpoenas raises a troubling new question that we must examine: whether the President corruptly sought to influence or obstruct the Committees’ proceeding by preventing, discouraging, or dissuading his son from complying with the Committees’ subpoenas. Such conduct could constitute an impeachable offense.

11 Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby. White House Briefing Room (Dec. 13, 2023).

12 Id. 13 18 U.S.C. § 1505 (Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees).

14 18 U.S.C. § 2(a).

Once you wade through all the bad faith and misrepresentation, this is a breathtaking development: Donald Trump’s most vigorous defender in Congress, Jim Jordan, someone who himself defied a subpoena to cover up Trump’s actions, has accused Donald Trump of committing an impeachable offense.

There are a slew of ways that Donald Trump, “prevent[ed], discourag[ed], or dissuad[ed]” witnesses from complying with subpoenas, during both his impeachments, the January 6 Committee, and elsewhere. Most famously, during the first impeachment, for example, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow got Trump to permit Trump attorney John Dowd to represent Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. In a response to a subpoena that was very similar to the pre-impeachment vote subpoena sent to Hunter Biden, Dowd made a bunch of claims about attorney-client relationships that, with the exception of the tie to Dmitry Firtash, have since been disproven, all in an attempt to deprive Congress of their testimony. While Parnas eventually cooperated with impeachment, neither Fruman nor Rudy did. Indeed, Trump’s entire Administration blew off the inquiry.

Trump did the same with the January 6 inquiry. Trump attempted to pressure Cassidy Hutchinson about her testimony. Even better documented, Robert Costello described that Trump’s lawyer instructed him to withhold materials about a meeting involving a bunch of lawyers but also Mike Flynn based on an attorney-client privilege claim. On Jordan’s logic, Trump should join Bannon in his 4-month contempt sentence for that intervention.

In short, while Comer and Jordan manufactured the claim that President Biden knew Hunter was going to blow off a subpoena, the evidence that Trump has ordered everyone in his orbit to do the same for years is overwhelming.

Once you argue that instructing people to blow off subpoenas merits impeachment, you’ve made the case for a third Trump impeachment.

Comer and Jordan have already surfaced far more evidence supporting an impeachment of Donald Trump than Joe Biden. Three major examples are:

  • Ties between DOJ access and dirt on Hunter Biden: In response to Comer’s allegations about Hunter and Joe Biden, Lev Parnas has renewed allegations he made in the past, much of which are backed by known communications and the recently released warrants from SDNY. Of particular note, he described that Rudy floated access with Trump’s DOJ in exchange for dirt on the Bidens with both Yuriy Lutsenko and Dmitry Firtash. Parnas also claimed that when he attempted to fly to Vienna on October 9, 2019, he believed he would retrieve content stolen from a Hunter Biden laptop.
  • Efforts to funnel Rudy Giuliani’s dirt to the investigation into Hunter Biden: Chuck Grassley revealed that during his first impeachment, when Trump was emphasizing the import of investigating Burisma corruption, his own DOJ shut down a 3.5-year old investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky. Testimony from Scott Brady enhanced what we already know about the dedicated channel Bill Barr set up days later for dirt Rudy had obtained, including from known Russian agents. Of particular import, Brady revealed that he mined the recently closed Zlochevsky investigation to obtain informant testimony about how Zlochevsky changed his story about Joe Biden during the course of impeachment. Brady and Gary Shapley both provided new details of how that information got shared with the Hunter Biden investigative team, with Brady submitting interrogatories about what they were investigative and getting David Weiss’ intervention to brief the information they obtained. Ultimately, after Trump yelled at Bill Barr about the Hunter Biden investigation, Richard Donoghue ordered the Delaware investigators to accept the FD-1023 memorializing Zlochevsky’s changed story about Biden; Bill Barr confessed that he was involved in this process. In short, Jordan and Comer, with an assist from Grassley, have confirmed many of the suspicions that drove the first impeachment.
  • Trump’s involvement in Tony Bobulinski’s inconsistent FBI testimony: The disgruntled IRS agents released Tony Bobulinski’s draft interview report (from the same day as the briefing about Zlochevsky’s changed Biden claims), key claims in which are not backed by previously unreleased communications. The disclosure of testimony that Hunter Biden alleges to be false comes even as Cassidy Hutchinson’s book describes a secret meeting Mark Meadows had weeks after that FBI interview, at which Trump’s chief of staff handed Bobulinski something that could be an envelope.

Thanks to Comer and Jordan — with an important assist from Grassley — Republicans have exposed that Trump has been corruptly involved in the Hunter Biden investigation — the Hunter Biden investigation they’re using to impeach Joe Biden — from the start.

But this letter is different.

Comer and Jordan never admitted that all the rest — all the evidence that Trump corruptly ginned up an investigation into Joe Biden’s kid — merited impeachment. They have claimed the opposite, even in the face of Grassley’s stunning claim that Trump’s DOJ shut down an investigation into Zlochevsky opened when Biden was Vice President.

But here, at long last, they’re admitting that Trump’s years-long efforts to stonewall Congress may merit impeachment.

Mind you, the outlets that believed this letter was newsworthy didn’t mention that fact. Instead, they treated Jordan’s stunning hypocrisy as if it were a good faith intervention. They didn’t even mention that Jordan himself blew off a subpoena to protect Trump!

We know why John Solomon — implicated himself in all these events — pretended this was all good faith. Solomon doesn’t pretend to be anything but a pro-Trump propagandist.

But NBC has no excuse. Either it is too stupid to recognize that this Jordan letter is the height of bad faith … or it is too addicted to dick pic-sniffing clicks to explain all that to their readers.

At some point, Jim Jordan’s confession that Donald Trump really did deserve impeachment becomes the story.

Update: I should have included Luke Broadwater — the NYT scribe who can’t do basic things like test the provenance of documents — in the right wing outlets that simply parroted Jordan’s garbage.

Luke Broadwater’s Attempt at Fact-Checking Covers Up Fabrications and IRS Sloppiness

NYT has two articles out fact-checking GOP lies in support of impeachment.

One, from Adam Entous, is really worth reading. It describes how a text that Hunter Biden sent his daughter Naomi, which joked about the fact that Joe Biden had made his sons work their way through college, has been misrepresented to instead suggest that Hunter was giving his father 50% of his diminished 2019 earnings.

Hunter felt dejected, and, while apparently under the influence of drugs, wrote a series of angry and often nonsensical messages to Naomi in which he threatened to cut her off financially.

“Find an apartment with Peter by next week,” Hunter instructed. “And send me the keys and leave all of my furniture and art. I love all of you. But I don’t receive any respect.”

Then he sent the text message that Republicans have used to suggest that Hunter’s foreign income was going to enrich his father.


Hunter’s oft-told story about giving half of his salary to his father appeared to originate during his freshman year at Georgetown.

His roommate at the time recalled Hunter telling him and his twin brother “a million times” that then-Senator Biden encouraged him to work, saying, “You can keep half of the paycheck, but you have to hand over the other half for ‘room and board.’”

It was a story, and a theme, that Hunter continued to invoke, especially after he married Ms. Buhle and they had three daughters — Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy — all of whom attended Sidwell Friends, a costly Washington private school, where they were surrounded by wealthier families.

Hunter told close friends that he was worried that his daughters had become spoiled. According to family members, he would frequently tell them the story about how he had to work in college and pay half of his salary to his father, in hopes of encouraging them to be more self-sufficient.

In other words, Republicans are literally trying to impeach Joe Biden because he made his sons work their way through college, and at a time he was broke, Hunter tried to do the same with his daughters.

Note that the underlying back story Entous describes, in which Hunter attempted to find specialized medical care for his daughter Finnegan, shows that while in Fox News pundit Keith Ablow’s care, Hunter was somehow cut off from the digital world.

Then Ablow responds to his own email, which this time is marked [External], noting that “His [apparently meaning Hunter’s] email is screwed up,” and then saying he had texted Rock.

From: Keith Ablow <kablow[redacted]>
Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2019 11:40 AM
To: Positano [redacted]; rhbdcicloud
Subject: [EXTERNAL]Re: From Keith

CAUTION: External Email.

His email is screwed up

I texted you

The doctor responds — happy to help — and provides his contact. Ablow thanks him. Hunter responds to that, plaintively,

Guys are you getting my emails?

And though neither of the external interlocutors ever said a thing directly to Hunter, Ablow says, yes, suggesting they had gotten his emails, then instructs Hunter to contact the doctor and “send him the x-rays,” even though in the original email Hunter already sent 2 jpgs.

Hunter then tried to email the doctor directly, using the same email included in Ablow’s email (possibly even using the link from the doctor’s own email), and it bounces, “RecipientNotFound; Recipient not found by SMTP address lookup.”

Hunter’s digital rupture from the outside world is part of the back story to how his digital life got packaged up for delivery, eventually, to Congress. And it should raise provenance questions about every other aspect of this investigation.

Which brings us to the other NYT story, an attempt to fact check that was, instead a confession that NYT scribe Luke Broadwater either doesn’t care or doesn’t know how to assess evidence and claims for reliability.

Broadwater feigns fact-checking Republican representations of a text Hunter sent in 2017, claiming to be sitting next to his father while he was trying to strong arm a business associate, which is another communication that Republicans are sure proves Joe Biden was in business with his son.

Before I show you what Broadwater wrote, let me reconstruct how we have the claim in the first place. Gary Shapley provided the texts to Congress in May. He shared them, he claimed, as proof that investigators were denied the ability in August 2020 to obtain location data — he doesn’t say for whom — and to search the guest house at Joe Biden’s house.

For example, in August 2020, we got the results back from an iCloud search warrant. Unlike the laptop, these came to the investigative team from a third-party record keeper and included a set of messages. The messages included material we clearly needed to follow up on.

Nevertheless, prosecutors denied investigators’ requests to develop a strategy to look into the messages and denied investigators’ suggestion to obtain location information to see where the texts were sent from.

For example, we obtained a July 30th, 2017, WhatsApp message from Hunter Biden to Henry Zhao, where Hunter Biden wrote: “I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight. And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.”

Communications like these made it clear we needed to search the guest house at the Bidens’ Delaware residence where Hunter Biden stayed for a time. [my emphasis]

Already, at this point, the savvy interlocutor would have asked Shapley, “why do you need location data? You get about five different kinds of location information in an iCloud warrant. What more did you need?”

Which might have led Shapley to confess he really wanted to get a location warrant targeting Joe, not Hunter.

If these texts were ever introduced at trial, Hunter’s lawyers would likely point out that they were obtained in reliance on the laptop obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac. At the point they got those warrants in August 2020 — effectively obtaining text messages that were available on the laptop — the FBI still had never validated the laptop to make sure no one had tampered with it either before it got into the custody of John Paul Mac Isaac or while in JPMI’s custody. That is, the warrant to obtain these texts may well be a classic case of poisonous fruit, and the texts could be affected by an alteration done to Hunter Biden’s contact list in the period in January 2019 when he was staying in Keith Ablow’s property and seems to have been partially cut off from the digital world; his contacts were restored — from what, it’s not clear — on January 24, 2019.

As Shapley was walking Congressional staffers through these texts, he admitted that they weren’t WhatsApp messages themselves, they were summaries. He wasn’t sure who had done the summaries.

Q Okay. And these aren’t WhatsApp messages, these are summaries of WhatsApp messages, correct?

A Yeah, that’s correct. Because it was something about the readability of the actual piece, right? It was easier to summarize in a spreadsheet.

Q Okay. And who did the summary? Who prepared this document?

A It was either the computer analysis guy or [Ziegler], one or the other.

Who did the summaries matters, because whoever it was did a shoddy job. In one crucial case, for example, whoever did the summaries interjected their opinion about what a screen cap that showed in the message was. It is the only indication in the exhibit shared with Congress that identifies the first name of Hunter’s interlocutor.

This interjection — a parenthetical comment recording that this was “(believed to be Zhao)” but included inside quotation marks as if it was part of the screencap — is the only place where Zhao’s first name is identified. Elsewhere, he is always referred to as “Zhao” or “Z,” even in a summary also referring to “Zang” and “Zhang.” Nowhere in this “summary” is his WhatsApp identifier included, as it would be in reliable WhatsApp texts summaries (here, from Vladislav Klyushin’s trial). It’s not the only parenthetical comment included as if it were part of a direct quote, but as we’ll see, it is a critical one.

Even in spite of the inherent unreliability of this summary, the shoddiness of the underlying IRS work, Republicans love it.

Jason Smith took these unreliable summaries and fabricated them into texts, creating the illusion that they had a solid chain of evidence for these texts.

Smith’s tweets of these texts went viral.

In spite of the fact that Abbe Lowell has attempted to get Congress to correct this viral claim twice, Smith left it up.

The summary and the fabrications of the text and Smith’s use of the initials “HZ” matter because there’s a dispute between Republicans and their IRS source about the identity of the person involved.

Shapley said the texts involved Henry Zhao, consistent with Smith’s fabrication.

But in a later release, James Comer described the interlocutor as Raymond Zhao — which is consistent with the interjection in the summary (and other communications regarding this business deal).

On July 30, 2017, Hunter Biden sent a WhatsApp message to Raymond Zhao—a CEFC associate—regarding the $10 million capital payment:

As we’ll see, Broadwater predictably “fact checks” this as a dispute between Democrats and Republicans. It’s not. Before you get there, you first have to adjudicate a conflict between the guy who led the IRS investigation for more than two years, Gary Shapley, and James Comer. It’s a conflict sustained by the shoddiness of the underlying IRS work.

This is a story showing not only that James Comer and Jason Smith don’t know what they’re talking about, but are willing to lie and fabricate nevertheless, but even the IRS agents may not know what they’re talking about, and if they don’t, it’s because the standard of diligence on the investigation of Joe Biden’s son was such that they didn’t even include the identifier of the person to whom Hunter was talking, which would make it easy or at least possible to adjudicate this dispute.

This is a story that discredits the IRS agents — for their sloppy work and for their bogus claims to need location data to further investigate this and the conceit that it ever would have been appropriate to get location data for Joe Biden or search his guest home in August 2020. It is a story that shows that when faced with uncertainty created by the sloppiness of their IRS sources, Republicans instead just make shit up.

But here’s how Luke Broadwater describes the conflict:

‘I am sitting here with my father’

One WhatsApp message that has received much attention was provided by an I.R.S. investigator who testified before Congress under whistle-blower protections. In it, Hunter Biden invoked his father, who was then out of office, while pressing a potential Chinese business partner in 2017 to move ahead with a proposed energy deal.

“I am sitting here with my father and we would like to know why the commitment has not been fulfilled,” the message states. On its face, the message seemed to suggest Joe Biden was in league with his son pressuring for a payment to the family.

But Democrats have argued it is more likely an example of Hunter Biden’s bluster than an accurate statement of Joe Biden’s involvement in a shakedown. A lawyer for Hunter Biden says he does not remember sending the message.

The president has denied he was present at the time.

Broadwater turns this into an unknowable question about whether Biden was sitting next to Hunter, and claims it’s just about competing partisan arguments.

But this is a confession about Broadwater’s own abilities or work ethic, not a fact-check of truth claims. Because if you don’t understand or explain that the claim itself builds off provenance problems, you’re actively covering up several layers of shoddiness in this impeachment stunt.

If the point is to test the reliability of the impeachment inquiry, it’s that other story that needs to be told.

What Might Happen If Hunter Biden Refuses to Testify (Behind Closed Doors)

Update: Hunter did, as I supposed here, show up in DC only to make a public statement

Because a dumbass Congressman from Kentucky has not told Hill journalists what was in Hunter Biden’s motions to dismiss the other day, at least some of them have no conceivable way of knowing what’s in there, much less the specifics.

As I noted, along with the selective prosecution claim that Katy Tur was sure was the totality of it and the vindictive prosecution that was also obvious, Abbe Lowell also argued that the House GOP has usurped DOJ’s prosecutorial authority and effectively forced David Weiss to charge Hunter Biden with 6 felonies.

No one appears to know whether Hunter Biden will show up for his scheduled 9:30 deposition today, and if he does, whether he’ll do the thing virtually all defense attorneys would advise — to simply invoke the Fifth — or whether he’ll just refuse to answer questions unless a live camera is rolling. But if he does anything but invoke the Fifth, that separation of powers claim is going to take on vastly new significance.

Before I explain why, let me first talk about some wild coincidences. First, Hunter filed the motions to dismiss on Monday, two days before this subpoena, based off a requested schedule change Abbe Lowell made on October 13 and Judge Maryanne Noreika approved on October 19. James Comer sent Hunter the subpoena, setting today’s date and time, back on November 8. According to reports, only in recent weeks have Comer and Jim Jordan and Speaker Mike Johnson decided they’ll hold the vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry that is one of two bases on which Comer issued the subpoena to Hunter this afternoon — after the scheduled time for the deposition that has been scheduled for over a month. And the suit that resulted, yesterday, in NY’s top court issuing an order for redistricting by February was first filed on June 28, 2022; Dave Wasserman says the decision could endanger the seats of five GOP Congressmen, as well as flipping the seat recently vacated by George Santos.

Abbe Lowell didn’t mastermind those coincidences. In fact, Speaker Mike was the one who made the only recent decision: to schedule the impeachment inquiry vote that would give more legal authority for the subpoena issued to Hunter on November 8, for after the scheduled Hunter deposition. On December 6 — the day after Speaker Mike decided to schedule an impeachment inquiry vote — Comer and Jordan sent a letter threatening to initiate contempt proceedings, “If Mr. Biden does not appear for his deposition on December 13.” But Congress is scheduled to leave town tomorrow and this Congress claims to have a rule that members get notice before any votes.

Republicans say they have the votes to approve the inquiry. Maybe they do! Maybe they still do after the redistricting decision! If that’s right, it’ll be one of the only votes the GOP has managed to pass in the entire year of their majority without Democratic votes. Quite literally, the only thing the GOP would have accomplished in a year would be to start an impeachment inquiry that virtually all sentient beings admit is based on no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden.

But if Hunter Biden does anything but plead the Fifth (or testify), that impeachment vote will have been cast after Comer refused what he offered a few weeks ago: an offer for Hunter to testify publicly.

Similarly, a contempt vote — a second contentious vote for those five NY Congressmen and others in Biden districts — would be held after Comer refused what he has boisterously said was sufficient: public testimony. It’ll come from Jim Jordan, not exactly the model for principled use of contempt to enforce Congressional subpoenas. Even so, Trump will exert a great deal of pressure to pass a contempt vote, even on those five NY Congressmen facing an even tougher reelect battle. Let’s assume it passes! All that would make still more clear that this Congress only exists to serve the beck and call of Donald Trump, not Members’ constituents.

If the House held Hunter Biden in contempt, Merrick Garland’s DOJ would likely do what he always does: give it to a Special Counsel. And there’s already a Special Counsel prosecuting closely related issues. Doing anything but giving it to David Weiss would signal all sorts of confidence or legitimacy problems with his authority, even if they’re merited.

If David Weiss were to receive a contempt referral from the House, he’d be looking at what might be a clearcut case of contempt (particularly if Hunter simply doesn’t show up). Based on the Steve Bannon precedent, there’d be a great deal of pressure to charge Hunter Biden with contempt. But that would result in Weiss doing precisely what Hunter’s motion to dismiss accuses him of already: prosecuting him because Congress demanded he do so, prosecuting him to show up for an inquiry that has, over and over, made claims — mostly unsubstantiated — about crimes Hunter allegedly committed. As the motion to dismiss described it,

Many members of Congress, including the last Speaker of the House, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee are actively interfering with DOJ’s investigation, using their authority to pressure and malign DOJ, and using congressional committees limited to investigating government agencies to conduct a criminal investigation of private conduct by a private citizen— one they are conducting based on a publicly stated presumption of guilt.

On its face, contempt would be justified. Except Congress has not hidden their belief that they are pursuing — this deposition was meant to investigate — crimes they imagine Hunter Biden committed.

Venue would be in DC. And while blowing off a subpoena might be an easy question for a DC jury (it was in the Bannon and Peter Navarro cases), in his communications with Congress, Lowell has established that:

  • He offered to cooperate starting in February
  • He repeatedly raised false claims Congress had made about Hunter
  • Hunter offered to testify in public, which Comer offered then retracted

And that’s before you consider that the subpoena was issued prior to an impeachment resolution, but any contempt trial would happen after an impeachment resolution would have made it clear that this always was about impeachment.

I don’t know how this turns out today. But there’s a distinct possibility that it will result in demonstrating precisely what Abbe Lowell has laid out in one of his motions to dismiss. There’s a distinct possibility that the actions Comer and Jordan take today will provide yet more evidence Hunter will use to argue that the entire case must be dismissed.

I’m not saying it’ll work! I am laying out the dynamic exacerbated by a bunch of coincidences that even Abbe Lowell couldn’t have planned.