House Republicans invite President Biden to testify at public hearing as impeachment inquiry stalls

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., speaks during the House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., speaks during the House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Thursday invited President Joe Biden to testify before Congress in what appears to be a last-ditch effort to deliver on their stalled monthslong impeachment inquiry into the Biden family businesses.

Rep. James Comer, chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the Democratic president, inviting him to sit for a public hearing to “explain, under oath,” what involvement he had in the Biden family businesses. So far, the GOP-led inquiry has not produced hard evidence of wrongdoing while Biden was in public office.

“In light of the yawning gap between your public statements and the evidence assembled by the Committee, as well as the White House’s obstruction, it is in the best interest of the American people for you to answer questions from Members of Congress directly, and I hereby invite you to do so,” the Kentucky Republican wrote.

While it is highly unlikely that Biden would agree to appear before lawmakers in such a setting, Comer pointed to previous examples of presidents’ testifying before Congress.

“As you are aware, presidents before you have provided testimony to congressional committees, including President Ford’s testimony before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice of the House Judiciary Committee in 1974,” Comer continued.

The invitation comes as the monthslong inquiry into Biden is all but winding down as Republicans face the stark reality that it lacks the political appetite from within the conference to go forward with an actual impeachment. Nonetheless, leaders of the effort, including Comer are facing growing political pressure to deliver something after months of work investigating the Biden family and its web of international business transactions.

The White House has repeatedly called the inquiry baseless, telling Republicans to “move on” and focus on “real issues” Americans want addressed.

“This is a sad stunt at the end of a dead impeachment,” spokesman Ian Sams said in a social media post last week. “Call it a day, pal.”

The committee has asserted for the past year that the Bidens traded on the family name, an alleged influence-peddling scheme in which Republicans are trying to link a handful of phone calls or dinner meetings between Joe Biden, when he was vice president or out of office, and Hunter Biden and his business associates.

But despite dedicating countless resources, and interviewing dozens of witnesses, including the president’s son Hunter Biden and his brother James Biden, Republicans have yet to produce any evidence that shows Joe Biden was directly involved or benefited from his family’s businesses while in public office.

Democrats have remained unified against the inquiry, with Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on Oversight, calling for his GOP counterpart to end the investigation absent any credible evidence.

“The GOP impeachment inquiry has been a circus,” Oversight Democrats wrote on X, the website formerly known as Twitter. “Time to fold up the tent.”

Seeking testimony from the president could ultimately be the inquiry’s final act. Late last year, Republicans leading the investigation had privately discussed holding a vote on articles of impeachment in the new year, but growing criticism from within their party forced a shift in strategy. Now, Comer is eyeing potential criminal referrals of the family to the Justice Department, a move that will be largely symbolic and unlikely to be taken up by the department.

___ AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

AP Politics

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