Tag: chuck grassley
Chuck Grassley

'Flip-Flop Fest': Republicans Whine After Garland Names Hunter Biden Special Counsel

Republicans expressing outrage after Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday elevated the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney investigating Hunter Biden to special counsel status are now being mocked and chastised after it was revealed they have been demanding the Attorney General appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden for over a year.

“Half of the House Republican conference wrote to Merrick Garland last year asking him to appoint a special counsel in the Hunter Biden case. Now that he’s done it they are acting mad,” wrote Aaron Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).

Fritschner pointed to this letter to Garland from April, 2022, signed by nearly 100 House Republicans, demanding he appoint a special counsel.

“We believe that in the case of Hunter Biden a Special Counsel must be appointed to preserve the integrity of this investigation and any subsequent prosecution. A Special Counsel would also ensure there is no bias in the investigation or undue influence from the White House,” the Republicans wrote.

Doing so, they insisted, would “help restore” some “trust for the American people…in government institutions.”

For example, among the House Republicans who signed the April 2022 letter demanding a special counsel, is Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV), who on Friday, responding to a report about the elevation of David Weiss to special counsel status, wrote: “The Biden Justice Department is trying to stonewall congressional oversight. All this while the House Oversight Committee has put fourth mounting evidence of President Joe Biden’s role in his family’s schemes.”

The ridicule of Republicans came quickly.

Fritschner blasted U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ron Johnson (R-WI):

Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall, pointing to Fritschner’s comments, responded: “Friends don’t let friend[s] try to appease Republicans.”

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), known for his sarcastic and scathing remarks ridiculing Republicans during House committee hearings, ridiculed the entire House GOP Friday afternoon. After pointing to a post from February they made demanding a special counsel, he suggested they might need treatment for amnesia.

Fritschner blasted Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ron Johnson (R-WI):

That social media post from the House GOP included a letter from Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan blasting Garland for not appointing a special counsel.

National security attorney Brad Moss slammed Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for demanding a special counsel be appointed, only to complain when one was.

Norman Ornstein, the political scientist and emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, responded, adding: “Chuck Grassley has long been an embarrassment to the Senate and clearly seems to have been privy to the attempt to steal the election. He needs to resign.”

Indeed, Sen. Grassley was one of 33 GOP Senators who, in September, not only demanded Garland appoint a special counsel, but demanded David Weiss be granted special counsel status.

“Under Department of Justice regulations and federal law, you have the power to provide special counsel authorities and protections to U.S. Attorney Weiss. Given that the investigation involves the President’s son, we believe it is important to provide U.S. Attorney Weiss with special counsel authorities and protections to allow him to investigate an appropriate scope of potentially criminal conduct, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and provide additional assurances to the American people that the Hunter Biden investigation is free from political influence,” the GOP Senators wrote.

Read the tweets above or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Fox Business Hosts Hype Biden 'Bribe' Tapes With No Proof They Exist

Fox Business Hosts Hype Biden 'Bribe' Tapes With No Proof They Exist

Fox Business hosts Stuart Varney and Jackie DeAngelis engaged in uncritical speculation this morning about rumored audio recordings implicating President Joe Biden in a bribery scandal, with Varney suggesting that they could be located in Ukraine and DeAngelis declaring, “We better see them, and they better hold people accountable.”

The fundamental problem is that even the leading Republicans seeking to dig up dirt on Biden have admitted that the tapes may not exist at all. In an interview with CNN last month, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) gave the meandering response: “I don’t even know where they are. I just know they exist, because of what the report says. Now, maybe they don’t exist. But how will I know until the FBI tells us, are they showing us their work?”

On Thursday, Grassley released an FBI document known as an FD-1023, which contains unverified allegations from a confidential human source. The source provided secondhand information that Ukrainian energy executive Mykola Zlochevsky had claimed years earlier to have recordings that would confirm he had bribed then-Vice President Biden. NBC News previously reported that a senior law enforcement official said the FBI and a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney had reviewed the bribery claim in 2020 and determined that it was not substantiated.

There should be a number of reasons to be skeptical about the allegations in the document, most notably that the source only spoke up in June 2020 about conversations that supposedly occurred in the years 2015-2017. And even this June 2020 contact occurred months after then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, when he had attempted to pressure the Ukrainian government into announcing an investigation of Biden in exchange for receiving badly needed military aid to defend itself from Russia.

Presumably, this information could have provided a more dramatic development during the heat of the impeachment, in order to show even some validity to the ongoing right-wing smear campaign against the Biden family. (Instead, the source waited until the general election campaign between Biden and Trump.) The document further notes that the source “explained it is very common for business men in post-Soviet countries to brag or show-off” about their political connections, and that they were “not able to provide any further opinion as to the veracity of Zlochevsky's aforementioned statements.”

DeAngelis appears to have further exaggerated the allegation even on its own secondhand terms. Whereas the confidential source in the report described Zlochevsky as claiming that “two of the recordings included Joe Biden, and the remaining 15 recordings only included Hunter Biden,” DeAngelis described these as “17 recordings that include Joe Biden in them.”

STUART VARNEY (HOST): Congressman James Comer says there is more to come in the Hunter investigation. Jackie, he wants criminal referrals?

JACKIE DEANGELIS (FOX BUSINESS HOST): He does, and he says by the time this is all said and done, there could possibly be six to 10 charges recommended to the Justice Department. Now, that would be really significant. I mean, obviously, we've got this latest bombshell in the FBI file, talking about the inform

ant's comments that specifically refer to Joe Biden. “It cost five [million] to pay one Biden and five [million] to pay the other Biden.” He calls Hunter Biden stupid. He says the head of Burisma has 17 recordings that include Joe Biden in them. So, we really need to piece this apart and get to the bottom of it. The House is working on that now — but six to 10 criminal referrals.

VARNEY: I believe the 17 tapes that you're talking about —


VARNEY: I think they're in Ukraine.

DEANGELIS: Yes, so this is the Ukrainian head of Burisma conducting these conversations that supposedly include the president.

VARNEY: Do you think we'll ever see those tapes?

DEANGELIS: We better see them, and they better hold people accountable for what’s happened here. This has been, I mean, really mind-boggling.

VARNEY: It is absolutely exploding.


VARNEY: And that's a fact.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

As Biden Scandals Fizzle, Trump Family Grifting Still Sizzles

As Biden Scandals Fizzle, Trump Family Grifting Still Sizzles

Back when Rep. James Comer previewed his committee's blockbuster probe of President Biden, the Biden family, and their allegedly corrupt connections with foreign investors, someone asked whether he also intended to investigate the Trumps.

"With respect to investigating President Trump, there have been so many investigations of President Trump," retorted Comer, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, during that interview last January. "I don't feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump because the Democrats have done that for the past six years."

Yet perhaps now that the Kentucky Republican has dug around the First Family for several months and produced nothing but innuendo, he may wish to reconsider that free pass for the Trump family — whose money-grubbing on foreign shores is bigger than anything attributed to the Bidens by an order of magnitude.

Consider the humiliating spectacle of Comer's press conference on Wednesday, May 10, when the Indiana Republican excitedly presented what he has discovered about the Bidens, and specifically the president, whom he has accused repeatedly of "involvement" in tainted overseas business deals. Described in Politico as "highly anticipated," the big event was undeniably a bust. (Even Republicans said so.)

Despite a panting recitation of bank accounts held by the president's brother James Biden and his son Hunter Biden — as well as other family members who appear to have benefited from foreign partnerships and consultancies — Comer failed to produce any tiny scrap of evidence implicating Joe Biden. He could not show that any of the Bidens whose names he dragged had committed a single illegal act. He could not prove that the president knew or approved of any of his relatives' business or legal activities.

And Comer came up empty when asked what, if anything, those arrangements had to do with Joe Biden's official responsibilities as president or vice president — since all those deals appear to have occurred while he was no longer serving in the Obama administration, and before he ran for president in 2020.

Comer's performance provoked mocking reviews from Democrats and "the liberal media," as might be expected, but the response from the right was almost equally dismissive. Steve Doocy, the Fox & Friends anchor, complained that "you don't actually have any facts" to prove influence peddling by the president... of all those names, the one person who didn't profit is — there is no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally," as a visibly flustered Comer fumed.

Both Comer and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, his ally in the Senate, have promised revelations from a "highly reliable source" who, according to them, has disclosed bad acts perpetrated by the Bidens to the FBI. Unable to obtain any such incriminating information, however, Comer had little to offer when queried by Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, except that he and Grassley are determined to pursue "Plan B."

"What is Plan B?" she asked, then shot Comer an irritated glance when he replied, "Well, stay tuned, Maria. You'll be the first to know, I can assure you," and then descended into stuttering and muttering about "the deep state."

The plain fact is that these Republicans, like generations of their hackish ilk on Capitol Hill, spend enormous amounts of time and treasure fabricating conspiracy theories of corruption supposedly perpetrated by their political enemies, as they did with both Bill and Hillary Clinton. Remember Whitewater? Benghazi? Her emails? Actual corrupt conduct by powerful figures abusing public office for private gain seems to trouble them not at all.

We know that because as soon as Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his gang took control of the House, they put the boobish Comer in charge of government oversight. And Comer's first action as chair was to terminate the committee's ongoing probe of Trump's efforts to enrich himself as president and to release his accountants from their court-ordered obligation to produce the former president's tax records.

Even as the Biden "scandal" seems to fizzle, the Trump scandals may still sizzle. You will recall that the former president and his son-in-law Jared Kushner both have reaped juicy profits in their recent dealings with the Saudi regime, raising obvious implications for their conduct in the White House. Those questions may yet be examined in a broader probe to discover exactly how Trump violated the Constitution's emoluments clause during his presidential term.

Stay tuned, Maria.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Jim Jordan

Republicans Went All In On Partisan Probes -- And Have Nothing To Show

Republicans are making investigations and hearings the signature of their time in control of the House, but they’re not doing a very good job of it. That’s not a partisan assessment trying to define the narrative, either—that’s something Republicans themselves increasingly fear.

Rep. Jim Jordan’s subcommittee on the weaponization of government was supposed to be the true centerpiece of the effort, making the case that the federal government has targeted Republicans. So far, though, it has been unfocused and ineffective with hearings that haven’t made much of an impact, and no big bombshells. Again, Republicans are saying this.

“Jordan is overextended and short-staffed, biting off much more than he can chew,” a former Sen. Chuck Grassley staffer tweeted in late February. “This is doomed to fail.” One of the quoted tweets on that came from an EpochTV host, who added, “Is it once again all talk & no action from the GOP - this time from the Weaponization Committee?” And Fox News’ Jesse Watters said, “Make me feel better, guys. Tell me this is going somewhere. Can I throw someone in prison? Can someone go to jail? Can someone get fined?”

Jordan is insisting that he’s doing great. “There have been more subpoenas, letters, interviews, and depositions than any other committee in Congress — and not that those are the measurement of success — but our staff is working their tails off,” he told The Washington Post. “There’s always going to be people who criticize us … We’re just going to do our job. We’re going to get the facts on the table and then we’re going to propose legislation that we think would help remedy the situation.”

He’s also asking for more funding to help staff up. But multiple sources told the Post that’s easier said than done.

“The reality is that there are a lot of people that don’t want to go and leave their jobs and work for this committee,” said one person identified as being “close to the committee.” They continued, “Unlike the January 6 committee, a lot of folks don’t think this will be a career enhancement — they don’t think this will get them on the partner track for their firm. So you will have to pay a premium for talent to support this and the fact that resources aren’t being devoted to it to do it will make it harder.”

And the subcommittee’s first hearings are not going to have made it easier to sell potential staffers on the career-building opportunities here. Jordan is using the hearings to float one false story and conspiracy theory after another—for instance, misquoting his own witnesses, who told Twitter that a possible hack-and-leak operation law enforcement was warning social media companies about might involve Hunter Biden. Former Twitter executive Yoel Roth said under oath that as far as he remembered, the specific warning about Hunter Biden came from someone at another tech company, but Jordan claimed it came from the government. If you’re a lawyer looking to make your career, you have to be pretty far off in Sidney Powell territory to think that being associated with that level of evidence-based claim is going to help.

”There is a feeling right now that this will simply be a Fox News clip generator — this really needs to be a comprehensive, well-resourced examination of the security state,” an unnamed “person familiar with the committee’s operations” told the Post. “It can’t be a way for members to get three- to five-minute hits on the Sean Hannity show. If they want this to be real, it has to be done right.”

But right now all the Republican investigations are exactly that: Fox News clip generators. And Jordan isn’t the only committee chair drawing some internal criticism. Punchbowl News reports that James Comer, chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, is drawing some gripes as he announces one investigation after another without making much of an impact. Just this week his committee has held seven hearings, all on different topics, with yet another one being postponed. That looks like someone throwing things against the wall to see what sticks (or, more precisely, what draws Fox News coverage), not someone conducting serious investigations intended to turn up meaningful information.

“There’s a big difference between oversight where you have expertise and oversight to churn out press releases,” a House Republican aide said. “Everyone thought he’d learn from prior chairmen and work in a more coordinated way. It’s been quite the opposite.”

That basic assessment applies to a lot of the highest-profile Republican “investigations,” the ones that were supposed to show what they were capable of. Then again, maybe they are showing what they’re capable of.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.