James Comer, leading the GOP Biden probe, insists he’s ‘bipartisan’ as he flirts with higher office


Shortly after Republican James Comer was chosen as Kentucky’s farming commissioner in 2011, he telephoned an old coworker from the Statehouse and asked whether he would serve on his shift group: Derrick Graham, a Democrat.

The friendly gesture was the sort of bipartisan comity Comer happened understood for throughout his decadelong profession in the Kentucky House of Representatives and running the state’s important Agriculture Department. Democrats back house explain the “Jamie Comer” they understood then as a practical “centrist,” somebody they might reach to throughout the aisle and deal with on commercial hemp production and aquafarming to an undesirable examination into a prominent member of his own celebration.

But after he took the U.S. House Oversight Committee gavel this year, Comer rapidly shed that bipartisan image– and made the rage of the really Democrats who when applauded him. Throughout his 8 months as chairman, Comer, who remains in his 4th term in Congress, has actually become the face of the GOP’s vast– and some have stated conspiratorial– probes into Hunter Biden and the chief villain to his dad, President Joe Biden.

Comer has actually ended up being a component on Fox News and other conservative media outlets, where he provides red meat for the right, consistently conjuring up the “ Biden Crime Family,” delicately implicating the president– without proof– of taking part in an “ affect pitching plan” and breaking the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and buffooning Hunter Biden’s previous drug dependency and cash issues.

” It’s a various Jamie Comer in Washington than what we have here in Kentucky,” stated Graham, now the minority leader in the state House, who at first saw Comer as remaining in the mold of the late Sen. John Sherman Cooper and the late Rep. Tim Lee Carter, Republicans “who got things done.”

” It actually does shock me, due to the fact that this person I see when I see him on television is absolutely various than the person that I served with in your home,” Graham included. “And it’s regrettable that we have actually concerned a location where it’s not about policy– it’s about character. Which’s not an advantage for governing. … It’s a department that is triggering individuals to draw sides. Which’s bad for our nation.”

While the Biden probe has actually divided Democrats and Republicans, they settle on something: The enthusiastic Comer, 51, now has the stature, nationwide fundraising network and appeal in the GOP to master a future race for guv or to be successful probably the state’s most effective political leader, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is 81 and has actually been fighting health concerns On Wednesday, McConnell appeared to freeze for a 2nd time in as numerous months when a press reporter asked him whether he prepares to run for re-election.

Comer, in a phone interview from Kentucky, stated he’s pleased serving in your house however didn’t dismiss a quote for greater workplace, stating: “I can’t anticipate the future. I do not understand what’ll take place.”

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., arrives to the U.S. Capitol for the last votes of the week on July 20, 2023.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., comes to the U.S. Capitol on July 20 for the last votes of the week. Tom Williams/ CQ-Roll Call Inc. through Getty Images

Speaking prior to McConnell’s most current evident freeze, Comer stated he is a company follower in term limitations and ultimately wishes to go back to his farming operation in Monroe County.

” I definitely do not wish to be among these individuals that remain in Washington permanently and get old,” he stated. “I believe that’s not an excellent company design.”

Comer almost ended up being Kentucky’s guv in2015 He lost by simply 83 votes in the GOP main to tea ceremony preferred Matt Bevin, who depicted himself as the most conservative prospect and went on to win the basic election. Throughout the last stretch of the main project, a previous sweetheart from college implicated Comer of physically and psychologically abusing her throughout their two-year relationship. Comer rejected the claims.

” I might have run for guv this time. And I do not believe a great deal of the Republicans that submitted would have submitted if I had actually run. I believe I might have won,” he stated. “But I understood I had the chance to be chairman of this committee. I understood it would be, in my viewpoint, the most prominent position in your home.”

That nationwide platform has actually created a big fundraising windfall for Comer. Given that he took control of the committee chairmanship and released the Biden probe in January, his project committee has actually had an incredible boost in small-dollar contributions, having actually raised $1 million throughout the very first 6 months of 2023, compared to a little bit more than $230,000 in the very first 6 months of 2021, according to project financing records.

Ahead of the very first GOP governmental main dispute recently, Comer gathered behind closed doors with donors in Milwaukee and informed them on the celebration’s Biden examinations.

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) and other Republican members of the committee hold a news conference to present preliminary findings into their investigation into President Joe Biden's family in Washington, DC. on May 10, 2023.
Comer led a press conference in May to provide initial findings into his committee’s examination into the Biden household. Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images

In the interview, Comer strongly pressed back versus the concept that he had actually deserted his bipartisan authentic, even recommending he might still deal with progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

” Nothing has actually altered. I’ve constantly been bipartisan. I simply occurred to be leading this examination that they think about partisan since I’m examining Biden, a Democrat, for corruption,” Comer stated.

Comer handed down running for guv this year, he stated, so he might concentrate on his probe into the Bidens. Attorney General Of The United States Daniel Cameron, a Republican, will handle Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear this fall– a pointer that members of both celebrations have actually been chosen to statewide workplace just recently and possibly one factor Comer is so excited to promote and safeguard his bipartisan record.

A bipartisan record

Former Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., stated he has actually likewise observed a modification in Comer for many years. They frequently travelled on the exact same flight in between Kentucky and Washington after Comer won election to Congress in 2016.

” We’ve yapped over those 6 years, and all I can state is I believe he has actually altered since of his position,” Yarmuth stated, describing Comer’s Oversight Committee function. “He’s ended up being a wild partisan.”

Yarmuth initially was familiar with Comer a years earlier when Comer welcomed him to speak on a panel with him, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., in assistance of commercial hemp production.

” That’s where liberals and libertarians are on the exact same page. I got to understand him a little bit then. He appeared like a fairly nonpartisan type. He was simple to deal with,” Yarmuth stated.

That has actually altered. “In my part of Kentucky, individuals take a look at him and believe he’s a shame,” stated Yarmuth, who represented Louisville. “Whether that harms him politically in the long run or not is another concern– a great deal of individuals do some quite silly things and do effectively.”

In reaction to criticisms, Comer rattled off a list of his bipartisan wins. Among his very first serve as farming commissioner, he stated, was to examine and deal with Democrats to examine his GOP predecessor, Richie Farmer, a previous University of Kentucky basketball gamer.

” I led an examination that put the most precious Republican incumbent in Kentucky in jail. My predecessor went to jail for corruption,” he stated. “So that injure me politically with Republicans. I do not discriminate.”

Comer likewise highlighted his independent streak, mentioning he braked with President Donald Trump and numerous House GOP associates by voting to license Biden’s election success in 2020.

” Of all individuals that voted to accredit the election, I had the greatest Trump district in America. Trump won my district by 49 points. And I voted to accredit that election. Do you understand who had the second-highest Trump district that voted to accredit the election? Liz Cheney,” Comer stated. “So I believe that’s a huge mischaracterization when they state that I’m not bipartisan.”

Comer is avoiding backing in the 2024 GOP governmental primaries however states he will support his celebration’s ultimate candidate– even if it’s Trump.

When Democrats managed Congress, Comer teamed with Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., then the Oversight Committee chair, on legislation to update the U.S. Postal Service; Biden signed it into law in 2015. And he indicated his previous deal with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., to secure access to trainee lunch programs as schools closed down throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, calling himself “a huge advocate of nutrition programs, particularly for kids.”

A New York Post front page story about Hunter Biden’s emails on display, behind Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY) and Rep. Jim Jordon (R-OH) listen during a hearing before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.  on February 8, 2023.
Comer sits with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in front of a New York Post front page about Hunter Biden’s e-mails at a House Oversight Committee hearing on Feb. 8. Alex Wong/ Getty Images

Perhaps most unexpected: Comer stated he might deal with a set of progressives on principles reform legislation that might manage whether relative of chosen authorities can do organization with foreign federal governments or entities: Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who both serve on his Oversight panel.

” We have a great relationship with Ro Khanna. I do a great deal of television looks with Ro Khanna,” Comer stated. “I believe AOC would be a fantastic individual to deal with on this.”

A representative for Ocasio-Cortez decreased to comment. Khanna stated he is “open up to working” with Comer on a principles expense– “as long as it uses broadly and is not viewed as partisan.”

Comer joked, nevertheless, that he would not sign up with hands with his Democratic equivalent on the Oversight Committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who has actually mocked, selected apart and poked holes in Comer’s examination.

” He has actually specified his significant objective as showing that President Biden is connected to corruption, and they have not laid a glove on it,” stated Raskin, who minimized Comer’s remarks about accrediting the election. “He did the best thing on that celebration– that’s like Donald Trump stating he paid his taxes one year.”

Exaggerations and innuendo

On a nationwide media blitz that has actually consisted of both conservative and traditional outlets, Comer regularly makes huge declarations when he discusses his probe.

” Were it not for your home Oversight Committee and this examination, the American individuals would never ever understand the level of the criminal offenses that the Bidens have actually devoted. And they would have simply had the story that Joe Biden wasn’t included, when, in truth, Joe Biden was front and center in its influence-peddling plan.”

In his media looks, Comer typically meddles unproven claims, exaggerations and innuendo that in some cases verge on conspiracy theories. And while he has actually clarified Hunter Biden’s doubtful service transactions in China and Ukraine, he has yet to reveal any direct proof that Biden, when he was vice president, was making money from his child’s organization plans or altering U.S. policy to assist his kid or other relative– a truth that has actually triggered moderate Republicans to pump the brakes on the GOP’s impeachment push.

In current days, Comer has actually highlighted a brand-new advancement in the event– that Biden utilized 3 pseudonyms when he emailed as vice president. Comer declared that Biden copied Hunter Biden on an e-mail referring to Ukraine policy when his boy was serving on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

” The current discovery that Joe Biden was utilizing pseudonyms with regard to Ukrainian policy and he was copying Hunter on those, I believe that reveals that Joe Biden was interacting with Hunter about policy,” Comer stated in the interview.

The truths are even more complex. The e-mail in concern, outdated May 26, 2016, was sent out from a Biden assistant to Joe Biden, who utilized the pseudonym “Robert L. Peters.” White House spokesperson Ian Sams stated Tuesday it has actually been a typical practice for presidents, Cabinet secretaries and other federal government authorities to utilize alternative e-mail addresses to safeguard versus security problems and spam. “Did they believe he was simply joe dot biden @? LOL Wonder what some Congressmen’s e-mails are!” Sams published on X, previously referred to as Twitter.

Hunter Biden is copied on the e-mail, that includes the vice president’s schedule for the next day. It consists of a telephone call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko however likewise take a trip strategies that night to Biden’s Delaware lake home, where the household was collecting that weekend to mark the very first anniversary of Beau Biden’s death.

Comer has actually typically asserted that Biden was completely knowledgeable about what he called Hunter Biden’s “dubious foreign deal plans.” And he revealed incredulity at the president’s duplicated rejections.

” My task was never ever to impeach; my task was to examine and get the truths. And I believe what we discovered is a series of criminal offenses,” Comer stated. “Let’s state the theory of the media … that Joe Biden didn’t understand a feature of it– well, should not he have understood something about it? I suggest, this person’s got the nuclear code, and he does not understand his household, 9 of his instant member of the family, everybody sitting at the Christmas, at the Thanksgiving table, is getting wires from foreign nationals. Should he not understand that?”

So far, his handling of the Biden probe has actually gotten high marks from Oversight Committee Republicans, like Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Gary Palmer of Alabama, who stated Comer is “mindful” to leads other committee members require to him.

Greene, who revealed specific pictures of Hunter Biden at an Oversight Committee hearing in July and has actually pressed to impeach the president, likewise had full marks. “He’s leading the very best examination into the Bidens, far much better than anything the FBI has actually done, far much better than anything the DOJ has actually done,” she stated.

Comer, too, takes pride in the panel’s work.

” I believe the general public has actually found out more from our congressional examination so far than any congressional examination in current memory,” he stated.

Scott Wong

Scott Wong is a senior congressional press reporter for NBC News.

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