House Oversight chairman invites Biden to testify as GOP impeachment inquiry stalls

Washington — The Republican-led House Oversight Committee has invited President Biden to testify publicly as the panel’s monthslong impeachment inquiry has stalled after testimony from the president’s son failed to deliver a smoking gun. 

In a seven-page letter to the president on Thursday, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the committee’s chairman, asked Mr. Biden to appear on April 16, an invitation he is almost certain to decline.

“I invite you to participate in a public hearing at which you will be afforded the opportunity to explain, under oath, your involvement with your family’s sources of income and the means it has used to generate it,” Comer wrote, noting that it is not unprecedented for sitting presidents to testify to congressional committees.

They have done so just three times in American history, according to the Senate Historical Office. The most recent instance came in 1974, when President Gerald Ford testified about his decision to pardon former President Richard Nixon.

Comer teased a formal request for Mr. Biden’s testimony last week, which a White House spokesperson called a “sad stunt at the end of a dead impeachment.”

Republicans’ impeachment inquiry has centered around allegations that the president profited off of his family members’ foreign business dealings while he was vice president. But they have yet to uncover any evidence of impeachable offenses, and the inquiry was dealt a blow when the Trump-appointed special counsel investigating Hunter Biden charged a one-time FBI informant for allegedly lying about the president and his son accepting $5 million bribes from a Ukrainian energy company.

The claims that prosecutors say are false had been central to Republicans’ argument that the president acted improperly to benefit from his family’s foreign business dealings.

In a closed-door deposition in February, Hunter Biden told investigators that his father was not involved in his various business deals. The president’s son was then invited to publicly testify at a March hearing on the family’s alleged influence peddling, in which some of his former business associates appeared, but declined

“Your blatant planned-for-media event is not a proper proceeding but an obvious attempt to throw a Hail Mary pass after the game has ended,” Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s lawyer, said at the time. 

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