The House oversight committee held its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden, the latest step in a months-long effort investigating the president and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings that has yet to produce substantial evidence of wrongdoing.
Here’s some analysis from our colleague Sam Levine:
Despite investigating Biden for months, Republicans on Thursday largely focused on the financial dealings by Hunter Biden, using innuendos and the suggestion of potential criminal activity to recommend that further investigation was necessary. The strategy appeared to be to lay the groundwork to justify a longer fishing expedition.
Meanwhile, a shutdown loomed even closer, with Democrats and Republicans nowhere closer to an agreement on how to keep the government funded. As the Senate moved forward with a stopgap measure to avert a shutdown, far-right members of the House kept on with their plan to pass a series of appropriation bills that wouldn’t actually stop a shutdown. House leaders are hoping that moving forward with these appropriations bills will cajole the hard-right and convince them to back a House-crafted continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government.
Finally, the various legal cases against Donald Trump moved forward.
A New York appeals court has denied Trump’s bid to delay a fraud trial set for Monday. This will allow the case to proceed two days after a judge ruled that Trump and his company routinely and repeatedly deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork. The civil lawsuit is brought by Letitia James, New York’s attorney general.
The federal judge presiding in Donald Trump’s criminal case over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results rejected his request that she recuse herself on Wednesday.US district judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that the former president failed to show her previous comments about his role in the January 6 Capitol attack meant she could not be impartial.
– Guardian staff
Here’s another sign that the Senate’s efforts to pass a short term measure averting shutdown may not get far …
Twenty-seven House Republicans, including the chair of the Freedom Caucus are asking speaker Kevin McCarthy to confirm that he plans to pass 12 individual appropriations bills that hard-right members are pushing before even considering the short term measure.
A New York appeals court has denied Donald Trump’s bid to delay a fraud trial set for Monday.
This will allow the case to proceed two days after a judge ruled that Trump and his company routinely and repeatedly deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork. The civil lawsuit is brought by Letitia James, New York’s attorney general.
James is seeking at least $250m in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.
Menendez again refuses to resign in closed-door meeting with Democratic senators - report
Speaking to his Democratic Senate colleagues in a private meeting, New Jersey’s Bob Menendez again refused to resign despite his indictment on corruption-related charges last week, CNN reports:
Prosecutors have alleged Menendez accepted bribes in the form of cash and gold bars from people connected to the Egyptian government, and more than a dozen Democratic senators have called for him to step down, including New Jersey’s Cory Booker.
The decision by Menendez, who pleaded not guilty to the charges on Wednesday, is unlikely to affect the balance of power in the Senate. New Jersey leans Democratic, and while the Democrats control the chamber by a mere two seats, it is unlikely that Menendez would be replaced by a Republican.
Republicans keep coming to Jonathan Turley, hoping the George Washington University law professor will offer his opinion on if Joe Biden should be impeached.
But while he has said he believes Hunter Biden tried to sell access to his father, he has refused to offer his thoughts on if the president acted improperly.
The latest Republican to try was Jim Jordan, who asked, “I want you to elaborate on something you said earlier … you said ‘confirmed corrupt influence peddling operation’. Can you elaborate on what you what you think that entails?”
“It’s now in my view, at least largely unassailable, even people that have long been critical of some of the investigations have acknowledged recently, particularly after the Archer interview, that this was an influence peddling effort,” Turley said, referring to an interview with Biden’s former business partner Devon Archer.
But Turley declined to go further than that:
Whether it was an illusion or not is part of the task for the inquiry. But it seems to be abundantly clear from these emails and statements, and now sworn testimony, that Hunter Biden, his associates, were selling access to Joe Biden, and the question is whether any of that effort resulted in decisions and changes being made by Joe Biden and also the degree to which he knew of it, directed it, encouraged it. That’s all the subject of an inquiry that has to be determined. It can be disproven or proven, but that’s what lays ahead of you.
“As a former director of emergency management, I know a disaster when I see one,” Democratic congressman Jared Moskowitz said, as he kicked off remarks in which he condemned the impeachment hearing.
It’s what you would expect from a Joe Biden ally, but the more worrying aspect for Republicans is that many in their party feel the same way, as Punchbowl News reports:
Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of the most extreme rightwing House lawmakers, took the hearing deep into conspiracy land by claiming Hunter Biden was engaged in sex trafficking.
She then displayed a placard that appeared to show naked bodies, drawing a protest from Democrats.
“Our colleague from Georgia has introduced before pornographic exhibits and displayed things that are really not suitable for children who might be watching,” Democratic ranking member Jamie Raskin said. “I would like the member to be instructed to not introduce any pornography today.”
“A bathing suit is not pornography,” Greene shot back.
“You are submitting a naked woman’s body,” Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said.
Greene again insisted she was showing a picture of someone wearing a bathing suit, then asked Ocasi-Cortez, “Glasses, do you wear them or not?”
“I have contacts,” the Democrat replied. “Congratulations,” was Greene’s response.
Democrat Jasmine Crockett took issue with Republicans’ propensity for using the word “if”.
Arguing that the GOP and their three witnesses had spent the hearing dabbling in hypotheticals, she asked Democratic witness Michael J. Gerhardt how many times they’d said “if”.
Gerhardt replied that he’d been keeping a tally, and the GOP has used the word 35 times.
“Thank you so much for that because, honestly, if they would continue to say if or Hunter and we were playing a drinking game, I would be drunk by now,” Crockett said.
After a lengthy speech in which he referred to the impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden as a “disgrace,” Democrat Greg Casar declared, “It is my firm belief that Hunter and Trump should both face trial and, if guilty, be held accountable for the crimes they’ve been accused of.”
Then he asked committee members to raise their hands if they agree. “Please raise your hand if you believe both Hunter and Trump should be held accountable for any of the indictments against them, if convicted by a jury of their peers,” Casar said.
Democrats held their hands high, but few, if any, Republicans did the same.
“I think it is worse than embarrassing that Republicans won’t raise their hands. They refuse to say that equal justice under the law should apply to everyone,” Casar said.
“This double standard insults the institutions of Congress that people fought and died to build. This impeachment hearing clearly is not about justice. We cannot say equal justice under the law for everyone, except for the guy who holds the leash.”
White House hammers home message that Republicans are wasting time with impeachment
Throughout the House oversight committee’s impeachment hearing, which just resumed, the White House has repeatedly sent reporters this statement.
So far, the Guardian has received the statement nine times, and each message has been essentially the same, with one exception: the time to the government’s funding expiring keeps counting down.
In the most recent message, we are 57 hours and 55 minutes away.
Senate begins debate on short-term measure to prevent government shutdown
The House oversight committee’s impeachment hearing is now taking a short break, so let’s tune into the Senate, which just voted to begin debate on a measure that would fund the federal government till 17 November, and prevent the shutdown that will otherwise begin on Sunday:
However, House speaker Kevin McCarthy said yesterday he would not consider the legislation, assuming the Senate approves it, instead opting to move ahead with passing longer-term funding measures. The problem with McCarthy’s strategy is it does not appear to be sufficient to stop the government from shutting down, and the bills will likely take time to be approved by both chambers of Congress.
Republicans dissastisfied with first impeachment hearing - reports
Reports are emerging that Republicans are not happy with how the first hearing of Joe Biden’s impeachment inquiry has gone today. The party’s operatives are dissatisfied with their three witnesses, who refused to definitively say the president broke the law, as well as oversight committee chair James Comer’s management of the session.
Here’s more, from CNN and the Messenger:
Democrat Melanie Stansbury is using her time to make the case that the whole impeachment inquiry is being done at the behest of Donald Trump – or “the grand puppet master”, as she calls him.
“Let’s be clear about what this hearing actually is. It’s an effort to undermine our democracy, to diminish Donald Trump’s own two impeachments,” the New Mexico lawmaker said.
She went on:
We know that Donald Trump has called for this impeachment inquiry, because we have the direct evidence from his own social. You can see it right here. He says, impeach the bum. And we also know that he’s been directly coordinating with members of this committee as reported by the New York Times right here, a member of this committee has been briefing Donald Trump on this inquiry.
We also know that if Donald Trump doesn’t get his way he wants his loyalists to shut down the government. How do we know that? Because he posted it right here on his social media. And his loyalists in this committee, who are doing his bidding for him today, retweeted it. And in fact, it actually says right here that the reason why they want to defund the government and impeach is because this is the last chance to defund these political prosecutions against me.
So, folks, this is not a serious inquiry. This is not a serious hearing. In fact, the witnesses here don’t even believe there’s enough evidence to impeach their own members don’t even believe there’s a much is enough evidence to impeach.
“I think it’s obvious who the grand puppet master is here. He tweeted about it on his own social and we see the long arm, the little hands of Mr. Donald Trump, whose fingerprints are all over this hearing and this sham impeachment,” Stansbury concluded.
Republicans, meanwhile, are using their time to get support from their witnesses for their investigation of Joe Biden.
Clay Higgins asked law professor Jonathan Turley for his interpretation of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” one of the things the constitution says a president can be removed for committing.
“This has been a matter of obviously robust debate for many decades. What we do know is that there were various terms that were offered, and were rejected,” Turley replied.
“Would Madison argue that ‘betrayal of trust to foreign powers’ is an impeachable offense?” Higgins asked, referring to founding father James Madison, who played a major role in writing the United States’s governing document.
“There are references into that type of betrayal of trust, but also, if you take a look at past impeachments, they have gone to the violation of public trust, including the use of office to perpetuate false accounts or to obstruct this body,” Turley replied.
Higgins then went on to recite the evidence Republicans have accumulated against Biden, which mostly centers on his son’s overseas business activities and the justice department’s investigation into it, which they allege was politically undermined.
“Do you agree that the oversight committee, judiciary committee and ways and means committee should be judiciously investigating reasonable suspicion of impeachable actions by president Joe Biden?” Higgins then asked.
“I do … I think it is your duty to get answers to these questions and to see if the president was involved in what I think is a confirmed corrupt influence peddling effort,” Turley replied.
One tactic Democrats are using to blunt the impeachment effort is to get the three Republican-invited witnesses to acknowledge that the facts don’t yet support charging Joe Biden.
Earlier in the hearing, Democrat Ro Khanna asked George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley to elaborate on his opening statement, where he said, “I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment. That is something that an inquiry has to establish, but I also do believe that the House has passed the threshold for an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Biden.”
“The key here that the committee has to drill down on, is whether they can establish a linkage with the influence peddling, which is a form of corruption,” Turley said. “And the [resident, whether he had knowledge, whether he participated, whether he encouraged it, we simply don’t know, and we don’t even know if this was an illusion or not.”
“Currently, it’s your testimony that that nexus has not been established, correct?” Khanna asked.
“No, I think that’s the purpose of the inquiry,” Turley replied.
Democratic congresswoman accused Republicans of fabricating impeachment evidence
Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Republicans of fabricating evidence presented in today’s impeachment hearing.
“Earlier today, one of our colleagues, the gentleman from Florida, presented up on the screen something that looked, appeared to be a screenshot of a text message containing or insinuating an explosive allegation. That screenshot of what appeared to be a text message was a fabricated image,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to a presentation from Republican Byron Donalds.
Earlier in the hearing, Donalds had shown a series of text messages that he said were indications Hunter Biden engaged in fraud and money laundering, and that Joe Biden benefited from it.
“I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know if it was the staff of the committee, but it was not the actual direct screenshot from that phone,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
She also noted that only the four witnesses before the oversight committee were under oath, while the lawmakers on the panel could say what they want – including lies.
“I would ask that the chair, and I would ask that this committee, elevate to the promise of our duties here and comport ourselves with the consistency and practice that is required of our seats and our duty and our oath,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Democrats, led by congressman Kweisi Mfume, just attempted to, once again, subpoena Rudy Giuliani.
Mfume argued that the lawyer for Donald Trump has crucial information about the impeachment inquiry. Giuliani was also at the center of Democrats’ impeachment of Trump in 2019 for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.
“Doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with this,” Republican Nancy Mace grumbled, before voting against it, together with other GOP lawmakers, who blocked the motion by a vote of 20 to 18.
“Where in the world is Rudy Giuliani?” Mfume said, after the motion failed. “That’s how we got here, ladies and gentlemen, and this committee is afraid to bring him before us and put him on the record. Shame.”
South Carolina’s Nancy Mace then displayed a text message between Hunter Biden and a Chinese businessman working for a company she said was affiliated with the Communist Party.
“Hunter says ‘my uncle will be here with his brother’ in all caps, ‘who would like to say hello to the chairman,’” Mace said, reading off the text message.
“He goes on: ‘Jim’s brother, if he’s coming, wants to say hello,’” Mace said.
“His uncle’s brother. Hmm, I wonder who that could be,” Mace continued. “I can’t quite figure it out. Hunter puts brother in all caps, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. But, since I’m not always dealing with geniuses in Washington DC, as has been illustrated today, I’ll spell it out. The brother of Hunter’s Uncle Jim is Joe Biden.”
“Why was Hunter so secretive about his father?” Mace asked. “I’m gonna tell you why. It’s because Joe Biden didn’t want the American people to know he and his family were getting paid millions and millions of dollars from a company closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party.”
While Joe Biden has erroneously downplayed his son’s business dealings in China, despite what Mace says, there’s no proof that the president financially benefitted from Hunter Biden’s ventures there, as this Washington Post fact check makes clear. It’s also worth noting that Hunter Biden’s involvement with the Chinese company, CEFC, began in 2017 – after Joe Biden’s term as vice-president ended.
Democrats then, again, attempted to disrupt the hearing with a point of order.
The culprit was Dan Goldman, who, before Republican Byron Donalds could talk, wanted to raise an issue.
“You’re out of order, out of order,” James Comer, clearly wise to the minority’s tactics, quickly responded, before moving on to Donalds, who presented a number of text messages from Hunter Biden to his siblings and relatives.
After Donalds finished speaking, Comer came back to Goldman, who requested that a specific page from Hunter Biden’s former business associate Devon Archer’s testimony to the committee was entered into the hearing record. Comer granted the request, and the hearing moved on.
“I think this hearing is all about look over here, not over there,” Democrat Gerry Connolly said, as he began an exchange with Michael J. Gerhardt.
Connelly asked Gerhardt to comment on “all those Biden towers” he’s seen across the world. There aren’t any Biden towers – the Democrat was referring to Donald Trump’s properties in countries across the world, one of a host of the former president’s international entanglements Connolly accused Republicans of ignoring.
“I just think that one of the reasons we’re here is because somebody has been indicted in four different locales on four different sets of concerns with I think 81, 91 actual counts and has been found guilty in two civil proceedings, one on involving sexual behavior and one on actual corporate fraudulent activity, and we don’t want to talk about any of that,” Connolly said.
“We want to speculate about discredited testimony from discredited witnesses, like Rudy Giuliani, whom we’re afraid to subpoena. That’s what this is all about. This isn’t about our need to defend Joe Biden, this is about their need to make sure we get off topic, that we no longer talk about the pending criminal trials of the former president of the United States, and if anything’s worthy of examination, that is – not this.”
Republican Jim Jordan is using his speaking time to establish that Republicans have a basis to open an impeachment investigation.
Citing instances where Joe Biden’s White House staff responded to questions about his son’s business activities, Jordan asked George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley, “What do you think about all those false statements from the White House and this abuse of power issue?”
“Well, the involvement of White House staff and executive branch staff has been really one of the trip wires we saw in Nixon and to some extent, even in Clinton, the degree to which you enlist support for a false narrative, or to obstruct Congress, can go into things like abuse of power,” Turley said.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington DC’s non-voting Democratic delegate, asked Michael J. Gerhardt to elaborate on the dangers of “impeachments [that] are initiated without any evidence of wrongdoing by a president.”
“They trivialize impeachment, they trivialize the constitution, and they ride roughshod over the rule of law. Nothing good comes from abusing your power, whether it’s done by a president or by Congress,” Gerhardt said.
The impeachment hearing is now well underway, and the two parties’ tactics are becoming clear.
Republicans are taking viewers deep into the weeds, unveiling a bevy of evidence they say proves corruption on the part of Joe Biden. They’re asking their three witnesses about specific aspects of the evidence, and asking them for their opinions of them.
Democrats are meanwhile questioning the entire premise of the hearing, and in particular the fact that the full House has not voted to approve an impeachment inquiry. The goal is, clearly, to discredit the entire idea of impeaching the president.
White House suggests impeachment hearing frivolous amid looming shutdown
The White House has released a statement responding to the ongoing impeachment hearing by the House Oversight Committee:
There are 60 hours and 55 minutes until the government shuts down because of extreme House Republicans’ chaos and inability to govern. The consequences for the American people will be very damaging – from lost jobs, to troops working without pay, to jeopardizing important efforts to fight fentanyl, provide food assistance, and more. Nothing can distract from that.
The hearing’s four invited witnesses are now giving their opening statements.
All four are experts in the law and accounting. The Republicans have invited former assistant attorney general Eileen O’Connor, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley and Bruce Dubinsky, a forensic accountant.
Democrats have invited Michael J. Gerhardt, a professor of jurisprudence at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Democrats' strategy at impeachment hearing: gum up the works with parliamentary tactics
The Democratic minority’s strategy is becoming clear at this impeachment hearing: lawmakers are using the House’s procedure to delay and distract from what Republican lawmakers were hoping would be a crisp presentation of their evidence.
The oversight committee’s top Democrat Jamie Raskin, aided by counterpart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, kicked off the effort by objecting to the committee’s basis for its inquiry, citing section 370 of the House Rules and Manual. It was eventually swatted down by chair James Comer.
Then, at the end of his opening statement, Raskin demanded that the committee subpoena Rudy Giuliani, an attorney for Donald Trump, and Lev Parnas, his close associate. Giuliani and Parnas were key figures in 2019, when House Democrats impeached Trump for his attempt to pressure Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy into investigating Joe Biden over his son’s business activities.
“Mr. Chairman, if this dysfunction caucus is going to insist on going forward, we must receive the testimony of Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas,” Raskin said. “These insiders know the origins of the lie upon which this sham impeachment is based and who worked to spread it. We know that Mr. Parnas is ready and willing to testify, and as a former US attorney and mayor, Mr. Giuliani will surely agree to enlighten us on everything.”
The hearing then ground to a halt as committee members took a recorded vote. Raskin’s motion failed, with 20 votes against and 19 in favor, but perhaps the delay was the goal all along.
Raskin then launched into a refutation of the GOP case against Joe Biden, aided by props.
In front of him was a tablet with a countdown to the government shutdown, which will happen after midnight on Sunday, unless Congress gets its act together and passes legislation to reauthorize the government’s spending.
Behind him, he had aides holding up placards with quotes from Republican lawmakers, including speaker Kevin McCarthy, complaining about dysfunction in their caucus.
“Alright, so, let’s get it straight. We’re 62 hours away from shutting down the government of the United States of America, and Republicans are launching an impeachment drive based on a long debunked and discredited lie,” Raskin said.
“No foreign enemies ever been able to shut down the government United States but now Maga Republicans are about to do just that. But they don’t want to cut off public services to the people and deny paychecks to more than a million service members without first launching an impeachment drive, even when they don’t have a shred of evidence against President Biden for an impeachable offense.”
In summary, Raskin said: “If the Republicans had a smoking gun, or even a dripping water pistol, they wouldn’t be presenting it today. But they’ve got nothing on Joe Biden.”
It was the committee’s Democratic ranking member Jamie Raskin’s turn to speak next.
But before he gave his opening statement, he wanted to know if the hearing was following the House’s rules, considering the chamber had not taken a vote on beginning an impeachment hearing into Joe Biden. Republican House speaker Kevin McCarthy opted not to do so and it’s not clear if Republicans would have enough votes to approve beginning the investigation.
“I have a parliamentary inquiry. Given that the committee has not been authorized by the full House to conduct an impeachment inquiry, Am I correct in assuming that we’re obligated to follow the rules of the House, including section 370 of the rules and manual which prescribe engaging in personalities towards the president?” Raskin said.
Here’s a good article from Politico on what he’s referring to.
After some discussion, Comer replied, “The Speaker of the House has authorized the impeachment inquiry. It has been authorized.”
But then fellow Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, too, objected. “I believe changing of the rules must require a vote from Full House of Representatives,” she said.
“Given the unique nature and subject matter of today’s hearing topic, these words will not be ruled out of order,” Comer replied.
“Thank you for clarifying. Mr. Chairman. We obviously have an honest disagreement about that,” Raskin said.
The final speaker was Jim Jordan, who is also chair of the judiciary committee, the third of three panels involved in the inquiry.
“This is a tale as old as time,” Jordan said. “Politician takes action that makes money for his family, and then he tries to conceal it.”
Jordan then zeroed in on Hunter Biden’s work with Ukrainian gas company Burisma, alleging that Joe Biden, as vice-president in 2015, pressured Ukrainian authorities looking into corrupt actions by the firm.
“Never forget four fundamental facts. Hunter Biden gets put on the board of Burisma, gets paid a lot of money. Hunter Biden’s not qualified. Fact number two: … he got on the board because of the brand because of the name. Fact number three: the executives at Burisma ask Hunter Biden to weigh in and help them with the pressure they are under from the prosecutor in Ukraine. Fact number four: Joe Biden goes to Ukraine on December 9, 2015, gives this speech attacking the prosecutor that starts the process of getting that guy fired.”
That allegation seemed to have been undercut earlier this week when Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president at the time of the prosecutor Viktor Shokin’s firing, told Fox News Joe Biden wasn’t involved in that decision:
Next up was Jason Smith, who is chair of the Ways and Means committee, which is one of the three bodies overseeing the impeachment inquiry.
He’s not a member of the oversight committee, but Comer got lawmakers to agree to let him onto the panel for today.
“Yesterday the Ways and Means Committee released new documents showing president Biden was not just aware of his son’s business dealings, but he was connected to them,” Smith said. He then went into a lengthy explanation of the evidence his committee obtained.
Republican House oversight committee chair James Comer has started a hearing with a recap of the GOP’s case against the president.
“Since assuming our Republican majority in January, the House Oversight and Accountability committee has uncovered a mountain of evidence revealing how Joe Biden abused his public office for his family’s financial gain,” Comer said.
For years, President Biden has lied to the American people about his knowledge of and participation in his family’s corrupt business schemes. At least 10 times, Joe Biden lied to the American people that he never spoke to his family about their business dealings. He lied by telling the American people that there was an absolute wall between his official government duties and his personal life. Let’s be clear, there wasn’t a wall. The door was wide open to those who purchased what a business associate described as the Biden brand. Evidence reveals that President Joe Biden spoke dined and developed relationships with his family’s foreign business targets.
To be clear, despite what Comer says, Republicans have not yet proven that Biden financially benefitted from overseas business dealings by his son Hunter Biden, or any other member of his family. That’s apparently not stopping Comer from saying that they have.
Hearing begins, two weeks after inquiry launched over unproven allegations
Today’s hearing in the impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden comes two weeks after the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, launched the inquiry into the president over unproven allegations of corruption in his family’s business dealings.
“This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather the full facts and answers for the American public,” McCarthy said earlier this month.
That’s exactly what we want to know – the answers. I believe the president would want to answer these questions and allegations as well.
It is unclear if the GOP has the evidence to substantiate the long-running claims that the president profited from the business dealings of his son Hunter Biden and other family members, or even the votes for impeachment.
The impeachment inquiry will be handled by the oversight, judiciary and ways and means committees, all of which are controlled by McCarthy allies.
While impeachment can be the first step to removing a president from office, that appears unlikely to happen. If the House impeaches Biden, the matter would then go to the Senate, which would have to support his conviction with a two-thirds majority – a high bar to clear in a chamber currently controlled by Democrats.
Three witnesses are scheduled to appear in front of the House oversight committee’s hearing in the impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden.
One is Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and paid Fox News contributor who testified against Donald Trump’s first impeachment.
Another is Bruce Dubinsky, a forensic accountant who has made misleading claims about Hunter Biden’s finances.
The third is Eileen O’Connor, a former assistant attorney general in Department of Justice’s tax division, who wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing the investigation into Hunter Biden’s finances. O’Connor served on Trump’s 2016 transition team for the treasury department, the Washington Post reported.
House Republicans to hold first hearing on Biden impeachment inquiry
The House oversight committee is about to hold its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden, the latest step in a months-long effort investigating the president and his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings that has yet to produce substantial evidence of wrongdoing.
Today’s hearing, titled The Basis for an Impeachment Inquiry of President Joseph R Biden Jr, comes two weeks after House speaker Kevin McCarthy launched the inquiry in response to demands from hard-right members of the House Republican conference.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10am Eastern time. My colleague Chris Stein will be following it live here on the blog.
The federal judge presiding in Donald Trump’s criminal case over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results rejected his request that she recuse herself on Wednesday.
US district judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that the former president failed to show her previous comments about his role in the January 6 Capitol attack meant she could not be impartial.
The decision means the case remains with Chutkan, who was randomly assigned it after Trump was indicted last month on charges that he unlawfully conspired to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, though Trump can appeal to the DC circuit for a special order known as a mandamus.
Trump has long complained that Chutkan was biased against him based on remarks she made about him during sentencing in other January 6 riot defendant cases. But he faced an uphill struggle in trying to get Chutkan to recuse because, to succeed, he needed to satisfy a particularly high evidentiary threshold.
“Justice … demands that judges not recuse without cause. ‘In the wrong hands, a disqualification motion is a procedural weapon to harass opponents and delay proceedings,” Chutkan said in her ruling, a line with resonance given Trump has suggested his overarching legal strategy is to delay his cases beyond the 2024 election.
Donald Trump billed his Wednesday primetime speech in Michigan as a gesture of solidarity with striking autoworkers.
The event doubled as a distraction from the night’s Republican primary debate, where other candidates discussed how they would help striking autoworkers.
On two very different stages, Trump and the seven other Republicans faced the same challenge. American support for labor unions is at a 57-year-high, and union workers – especially the thousands of auto workers currently on strike – are a coveted voting bloc that could help secure the White House in 2024.
Except there’s one problem: the Republican party doesn’t like unions.
In the decades since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, GOP lawmakers championed “right to work” laws designed to limit union membership. In 2021, Congressional Republicans overwhelmingly voted against a bill that would make it easier for workers to form unions.
Some candidates have already antagonized unions, with Senator Tim Scott last week suggesting that the striking autoworkers ought to be fired.
But the United Auto Workers strike is growing. This week, Joe Biden became the first sitting president to join the picket line, shifting the GOP’s calculus of which Republican is most likely to win the general election.
The eight Republican candidates attempted to reconcile GOP policy and politics on Wednesday, with uneven results.
Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans have consistently attacked unions but many are now being more supportive of the UAW strike.
Trump is the overwhelming frontrunner in the Republican 2024 nomination race and Michigan and other rust belt states are seen as crucial battlegrounds in the race for the White House.
Several hundred people attended Wednesday night's speech, which was timed to coincide with the latest Republican presidential debate. “When you look at the thousands of people outside, why couldn’t you get a bigger plant?” said Trump.
The crowd appeared to be in the hundreds and while the speech took place, it thinned to less than a hundred as the rain came down. At one moment Trump – who has a long history of exaggerating crowd sizes at his events – falsely claimed that there were “10,000” people outside the venue.
“Just get your union guys, your leaders, to endorse me and I will take care of the rest,” said Trump.
Under a Trump presidency, gasoline engines will be allowed and sex changes for children will be banned. Is that OK?
Trump consistently attacked electric vehicles (EVs) and said US autoworkers would lose their jobs if the country made the shift to EVs. He pledged to support gas-powered cars.
We will drill baby drill and it will have zero environmental difference.
Trump skips debate as he urges UAW to endorse him in speech at non-union car parts maker
Donald Trump tried to woo US autoworkers in a rambling speech in Michigan on Wednesday night that took potshots at Joe Biden, electric vehicles and Barack Obama while pushing culture war issues and fell far short of supporting the core issues that have many car workers currently on strike.
The speech came a day after Joe Biden spoke to striking United Auto Workers members on a picket line nearby. Biden’s historic appearance was the first time that a sitting president has walked a picket line.
Trump dismissed that as a “photo op” at Drake Enterprises, a non-unionised car parts maker in Macomb county, a few miles from where Biden spoke to striking employees picketing a Ford facility.
“Your leadership should endorse me and I will not say a bad thing about them again,” said Trump, though he did not substantively address the issues at stake in the strike beyond expressing support for getting better wages.
At one stage Trump said that the UAW leader, Shawn Fain, should endorse him and called him “a good man … he’s got to endorse Trump”. In the run-up to the visit Fain, however, was withering in his opinion of Trump and declined to meet him. Biden had attended the UAW picket at Fain’s invitation.
Key takeaways from the second Republican debate
From a foray into Mike Pence’s sex life and extreme yet vague proposals on gun control, candidates competed for an edge during the second Republican presidential debate on Wednesday evening.
Amid the squabble of the seven candidates, all of whom trail Donald Trump significantly, Americans were left to parse which direction the Republican party plans to take in 2024.
The reviews were mixed.
New York Times political correspondent Maggie Haberman wrote early in the debate, “This is unwatchable.”
But Fox News’ Laura Ingraham argued after the debate that Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy were the most promising candidates in two flavors – Ramaswamy as the populist, Haley as the more traditional conservative supported by GOP donors.
Ramaswamy seemed at one point to flaunt his youth and inexperience, acknowledging that as the “new guy”, he expected that voters would see him as “a young man who’s in a bit of a hurry, maybe a little ambitious, bit of a know-it-all”.
I’m here to tell you, no, I don’t know it all. I will listen. I will have the best people, the best and brightest in this country, whatever age they are, advising me.
Tim Scott earned applause from the audience and praise from Sean Hannity for saying that, while he had experienced discrimination as a Black man, “America is not a racist country.”
At the end of the debate, moderator Dana Perino of Fox News asked the candidates: “Which one of you onstage tonight should be voted off the island?” Almost everyone refused to reply. When Christie did, he attacked the one person who wasn’t on that particular island.
Donald Trump’s rivals also tried, and largely failed, to produce memorable attack lines against each other during last night’s Republican primary debate.
South Carolina senator Tim Scott tried to criticize former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley for a set of $50,000 curtains at her residence as UN ambassador. “Do your homework, Tim, because Obama bought those curtains,” Haley responded.
Haley, in turn, savaged 38-year-old entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy for doing business in China and for joining the social media app TikTok, which Ramaswamy defended as a logical thing to do to help the party attract younger voters, even as he said that people under 16 should not be “using addictive social media”.
“TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we could have,” Haley said.
Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.
“We can’t trust you,” she said. “We can’t trust you.”
Crosstalk and weak zingers hand win to absent Trump at Republican debate
It’s hard to pick the low point of a debate that dissolved frequently into incoherent crosstalk and included former vice-president Mike Pence, a Christian conservative who has famously said he would never dine alone with a woman other than his wife, attempting to make a joke about his sex life. (“My wife isn’t a member of the teachers union, but I gotta admit I’ve been sleeping with a teacher for 38 years,” he said.)
Whether echoing Donald Trump’s rhetoric, or attempting to criticize him – Chris Christie dubbed him “Donald Duck” for choosing not to participate – none of the presidential hopefuls succeeded in upending the expectations of the race. Once again, Trump won the GOP debate without even having to show up.
On substantive issues, the Republican candidates endorsed virulent transphobia, with entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy arguing that “transgenderism” is “a mental health disorder”. He said he wanted to end birthright citizenship, so that children born in the US to undocumented parents would not be given citizenship.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis suggested he would address the fentanyl overdose crisis by using the US military against drug dealers in Mexico, and treat them like “foreign terrorist organizations”. He also did not believe Republican losses in the 2022 midterm elections should be blamed on the party’s embrace of extreme anti-abortion policies.
Pence said his plan for preventing future mass shootings was not new gun control laws, but instituting “a federal expedited death penalty for anyone involved in a mass shooting”. (Research shows that many mass shooters are suicidal.)
But some of the brutal Trumpian rhetoric seemed to have lost its punch. “Yes, we’ll build the wall,” DeSantis said, sounding almost bored.
On Fox News after the debate, former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway argued that “nobody made the case” that they had something different from Trump to offer voters. “They want to build a wall, they want to secure the border, they sound a lot like him,” she said.
Republicans candidates battle over Trump in chaotic second debate
Good morning, US politics blog readers. Chaos reigned Wednesday night on the stage of the Reagan library in southern California, where seven Republican presidential candidates shouted and sniped at each other for two hours without producing a single standout moment and, once again, without the appearance of the clear frontrunner, Donald Trump.
Amid the squabble of the seven candidates – Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, former vice president Mike Pence, South Carolina senator Tim Scott, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and North Dakota governor Doug Burgum – all of whom trail Trump significantly, Americans were left to parse which direction the Republican party plans to take in 2024.
While commentators were divided over who had the strongest performance, most agreed that last night’s debate will have done little to change the contours of the GOP primary or make a dent in Trump’s 40-point poll lead. As his rivals sparred onstage, the former president was in battleground Michigan working to woo blue-collar voters by lambasting Joe Biden, electric vehicles and Barack Obama while pushing culture war issues in a speech that fell far short of supporting the core issues that have many car workers currently on strike.
Here’s what else we’re watching today:
10am eastern time: The House oversight committee will kick off its impeachment hearing against Joe Biden. Three witnesses are scheduled to appear.
10am: The Senate will meet to take up the continuing resolution to keep the government open, with a vote on the motion to proceed at 11.45am.
11am: House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries will hold his weekly press conference.
11am: Senator Ben Cardin will hold pen and pad on assuming chairmanship of the Senate foreign relations committee.
1.45pm: Biden will speak about the late Senator John McCain’s legacy in Tempe, Arizona.
3.45pm: Biden will participate in a fundraiser in Phoenix.
Embattled senator Bob Menendez will address the Senate Democratic caucus today amid growing calls for his resign following his indictment on corruption charges.