Biden impeachment gets personal as Republicans grill brother James and prepare for Hunter

President Joe Biden‘s brother, James Biden, appeared on Capitol Hill just after 10:00 am ET on Wednesday to field questions under oath from Republican lawmakers looking to impeach the president over his alleged role in his family’s business dealings.

The closed-door deposition comes one week ahead of a subsequent deposition with Hunter Biden, the president’s son and a primary focus of said GOP-led investigations.

Upon his arrival, the elder Biden was surrounded by reporters who asked what he planned to discuss with lawmakers, to which he responded simply, “the truth.”

Hunter Biden is already facing up to 17 years in prison over federal tax and firearms charges, and reports indicated that Biden himself has grown increasingly frustrated with Republican efforts to investigate his family. Axios claimed in December that the president has privately indicated to personal confidants that he believes that no charges would have been brought against his son had Biden not opted to run for another term in the White House in 2024.

James Biden, brother of President Joe Biden, accompanied by Attorney Paul Fishman, left, arrives for a private interview with House Republicans at Thomas P. O’Neill House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Still, neither the White House proper nor Biden’s reelection campaign opted to weigh in on James Biden’s deposition in advance. Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House Counsel who frequently casts these investigations into Biden’s family as political games with a clear intent to influence voters ahead of the general election, similarly declined comment Wednesday morning.

And White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre outright shot down a question on the subject while traveling with the president to California on Tuesday.

“I’m not going to speak to the president’s private conversation with his family,” she told reporters. “I never do and I’m not going to do that now.”

However, Republicans themselves have faced something of a roadblock after the Justice Department indicted former FBI confidential informant Alexander Smirnov for giving false statements and embellishing information surrounding the Biden family’s business dealings.

Smirnov’s past testimony had previously served as a central pillar in Republicans’ efforts to link Biden directly to the business dealings of Hunter and James Biden. Prosecutors wrote in a new court filing on Tuesday that Smirnov’s accounts were fabricated specifically after meeting with Russian intelligence assets in 2023 and amount to “actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections.”

Biden himself has stated that Smirnov’s indictment should lead Republicans to end their inquiry.

“He is lying, and it should be dropped,” Biden told reporters when asked what the indictments mean for the impeachment push. “It’s been an outrageous effort from the beginning.”

James Biden, brother of President Joe Biden, accompanied by Attorney Paul Fishman, left, arrives for a private interview with House Republicans at Thomas P. O’Neill House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

House Intelligence Chairman James Comer (R-KY), who is overseeing the investigations into the Biden family, claimed that the indictments against Smirnov do not undermine Republicans’ impeachment efforts.

“To be clear, the impeachment inquiry is not reliant on the FBI’s FD-1023,” Comer said in a statement. “It is based on a large record of evidence, including bank records and witness testimony, revealing that Joe Biden knew of and participated in his family’s business dealings.”

The GOP’s impeachment push has additionally complicated public perception regarding Biden’s age and general fitness for office.

Special counsel Robert Hur, who led the investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents, opted not to charge the president in that matter but highlighted Biden’s alleged failing memory in his report published in February.

White House officials have heartily pushed back on that narrative, claiming that Hur, who is not a medical professional and was appointed by former President Donald Trump, had no business attempting to the mental capacity of the 81-year-old Biden.

“When the inevitable conclusion is that the facts and the evidence don’t support any charges, you’re left to wonder why this report spends time making gratuitous and inappropriate criticisms of the President,” Sams told reporters on Feb. 9. “The gratuitous comments that respected experts saying is out of line are inappropriate.”

Vice President Kamala Harris gave an even more forceful assessment that same day, claiming that Hur’s report was a “clearly politically motivated” attack against the president, the same language the White House had previously used to describe Republicans’ impeachment efforts of Biden.

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“I have been privileged and proud to serve as Vice President of the United States with Joe Biden as President of the United States.  And what I saw of that report last night, I believe, is — as a former prosecutor, the comments that were made by that prosecutor: gratuitous, inaccurate, and inappropriate,” Harris stated. “The way that the president’s demeanor in that report was characterized could not be more wrong on the facts and, clearly politically motivated — gratuitous.”

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