'Political Huckster' Comer Is Exposed In Raucous Contempt Hearing

James Comer

Rep. James Comer

The fur was flying in a contentious hearing Thursday night as the House Oversight and Investigations Committee passed a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. Democrats, with some help from GOP Chair James Comer, exposed the purely political motives behind this attack on Merrick and President Joe Biden over the White House’s refusal to turn over audio and video recordings from Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur.

The White House claimed executive privilege on the Hur recordings, with counsel Ed Siskel saying in a letter to Congress that the GOP lawmakers had no legitimate legislative purpose and that their intent in getting the recording was obvious—“to chop them up, distort them, and use them for partisan political purposes.”

Comer proved exactly that Thursday just before the hearing, sending out a fundraising appeal—using his Oversight Committee title—declaring that “Biden and his advisors are terrified that I will release the recordings, forcing the media and Democrats to answer for the dismal decline of Biden’s mental state.”

The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin, blasted Comer in his opening statement. “I thought you were serious about the legal enterprise here and not just another political huckster calling hearings to make a buck.”

Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida provided a must-see “spirited reading” of Comer’s fundraising pitch, after pointing out that the hearing had been delayed so that GOP members could make a pilgrimage to Manhattan to attend Donald Trump’s hush money trial. He noted that the pitch came from “the desk of the Oversight Chairman,” adding “I’m not sure you can do that, but I’m not an ethics expert.”

It was downhill from Republicans after that, largely thanks to the antics of—who else—Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who threw the process into chaos with a personal attack on Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas, jibing “I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading.”

The ensuing fight lasted nearly an hour, with Comer struggling to regain order, and culminated in a vote on whether to allow Greene to continue to participate. It ended in a party-line 22-20 vote, with one exception: Greene’s arch nemesis Rep. Lauren Boebert voted with Democrats to muffle Greene.

To get a sense of how surreal the whole mess was, there’s this: “I just want to apologize to the American people,” Boebert said. “When things get as heated as they have, unfortunately, it’s an embarrassment on our body as a whole.”

The whole debacle, one Democrat suggested, was fueled by the booze certain members consumed before the hearing—and an audience of lawmakers drinking during it. One panel member claimed “we have some members in the room who are drinking inside the hearing room, who are not members of this hearing.”

The crass politics of Comer, the Greene chaos, the partying—it’s all a reflection on just how low the GOP has sunk. It’s also making Speaker Mike Johnson’s job that much harder. Because the hardliners are going to push him to hold a vote on the contempt resolution, and some of the more moderate—and vulnerable—Republicans don’t want to go anywhere near it.

Republican Rep. David Joyce of Illinois is one of them, telling Politico that Congress has “important” work to do “but going after the attorney general isn’t one of them.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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