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James Comer makes his final anti-Biden push … to prospective donors

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) assumed leadership of the House Oversight Committee last year with a particularly ambitious goal: proving that President Biden had committed an act necessitating his removal from office. Should he do so, he’d enter a lightly populated pantheon of legislators whose service had been of particular significance to the republic.

There was just one problem. If there was some ethical or legal failure on Biden’s part that would objectively demonstrate unfitness for office, it was not on the path that Comer and his allies followed.

Comer certainly tried to build a case that Biden had been involved in his son’s and brother’s business partnerships, perhaps even taking official action as vice president or even president to aid those deals, but months of interviews and digging through documents yielded only a flimsy circumstantial case in which, for example, Biden calling his son was framed as an act of historical insidiousness. Comer simply didn’t have the goods.

But Comer is a politician, and politicians thrive on attention. Some are dependent on it. So Comer kept going on television and insisting that he was nearing victory, Napoleon carrying the tricolor toward St. Petersburg as his troops defected at increasing rates. Comer built demand for something he said he would deliver — and then couldn’t.

It has been unclear how this would resolve, given increasingly loud chatter on the right that House Republicans weren’t going to vote to impeach Biden based on what Comer had dug up. They barely voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and he, at least, could be credibly blamed (at least among their base of support) for the increase in migrant arrivals at the border. Comer had to find an escape hatch.

In recent weeks, he has flirted with the idea that his inquiry would result not in impeachment but, instead, in criminal referrals — recommendations to the Justice Department that individuals (presumably ones named Biden) face investigation and potential indictment. The beauty of this, of course, is that it shifts responsibility for accountability to the Biden administration itself. When the Justice Department inevitably ignores his recommendations, Comer could pretend that it was because of politics, not the weakness of his case.

But he hadn’t yet said that this was how the whole thing would wrap up, just hinted.

Until Monday evening. At last, Comer revealed that he would, in fact, conclude his investigation with criminal referrals — a revelation that came not on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show (where so many previous revelations had emerged) but in a fundraising email.

There’s a certain form that modern fundraising emails take, distilled presentations of the on-the-edge-of-collapse vibe that campaigns learned long ago were useful for getting people to hand over credit card numbers. Comer’s email is no exception, arguing in broad strokes that he’s fighting the good fight against nefarious foes and suffering damage that can only be treated with the soothing balm of cash.

“I ask you to take the time to read this email in its entirety,” he writes at the beginning, having promised “a big update on my investigation.” “I spent a lot of time writing it and did my best to make every word count.” Then, a mopey taste of desperation: “If you don’t read it, nobody will.”

We should note at the outset that it is interesting that he refers to the probe as “my investigation.” To some extent, this is just an effort to express ownership over it to amplify the need to support him specifically with a contribution. But it also captures a real element of the situation among House Republicans: He was the lead on the Hunter Biden business component of the probe, for what little good it did him.

“I’ve presented mountains of evidence confirming Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s influence peddling scheme,” he writes, “and I just had a group of the Biden family’s business confidants publicly testify about the first family’s criminal activity.”

None of that is true, including the part about the “group” of “confidants”: He chaired a hearing involving two people who had worked briefly with members of Biden’s family.

“At any other time in history,” he writes, “that would have been the final nail in the coffin of the Biden Crime Family’s reign of corruption.”

If what he wrote had been true, perhaps. But it wasn’t.

After an aside about how Democrats waved off the Mayorkas impeachment, he gets to the point.

“It’s clear that Democrats will choose their party over their country and the truth at every turn. They should be ashamed of themselves,” he writes, setting off the world’s irony meters. “That’s why I am preparing criminal referrals as the culmination of my investigation.”

Then, a bit of a twist:

“When President Trump returns to the White House,” the email continues, “it’s critical the new leadership at the DOJ have everything they need to prosecute the Biden Crime Family and deliver swift justice.”

It’s a clever pivot, from throwing up his hands at the inevitable inaction of the Biden Justice Department to making his efforts part of Donald Trump’s broader pledge of retribution. Not that Trump would need to carefully consider the evidence before pressuring his appointed attorney general to bring charges against Biden, but it’s still a better argument for the utility of his action than simply dropping referrals onto Attorney General Merrick Garland’s desk.

Anyway, he then gets to the bit about how he needs campaign contributions, because “me and my family are being put through this” (though he doesn’t say what the “this” is). The email is signed, “With Courage, James Comer.”

This, then, is how Comer’s crusade ends. Not with a bang of a gavel as a raucous House throws Biden out on his ear but with a whimpering request that Republicans contribute $50 to his reelection — and maybe consider making it a recurring donation? If there is a pantheon to which this endeavor might be added, it’s one celebrating those who overpromise and underdeliver.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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