House GOP’s latest impeachment hearing devolves into bickering with Trump-aligned witness

A high-profile hearing House Republicans had hoped would provide more fodder for their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden quickly descended into petty bickering.

The House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday featured two witnesses invited by Republicans — former Hunter Biden associates Tony Bobulinski and James Galanis — who have previously met with the committee in private interviews. In those meetings, both have claimed that Joe Biden discussed business with Hunter Biden and his son’s associates, which both Bidens have denied.

Democrats, in a memo circulated ahead of the hearing, called Bobulinski and Galanis “discredited,” adding that they “have not shown any wrongdoing or [an] impeachment offense” by Joe Biden. And repeating a dynamic in those private sessions, Democrats on the panel soon started having testy exchanges with Bobulinski on Wednesday, who previously attended a 2020 presidential debate as a guest of then-President Donald Trump’s campaign.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the panel, teed off against the two witnesses, calling them “loyal servants of Trump world” and “utterly compromised and biased witnesses,” adding that Bobulinski is a “bitterly disappointed wannabe Hunter Biden business partner.”

The hearing is the latest bullet point in the House GOP’s broad impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden, which has flailed recently and seems unlikely to lead to a House vote absent clearer evidence. Republican investigators had hoped Hunter Biden would personally attend the public hearing after a closed-door deposition last month, but the president’s son declined. And the attorney for another business partner and planned witness, Devon Archer, also said he couldn’t attend, instead requesting that the committee propose alternative days, according to a letter obtained by POLITICO.

Bobulinski, in his opening statement, vehemently criticized Joe Biden, who he called a “serial liar.” He also accused Raskin and Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) of lying. When Raskin interrupted to ask if the House’s decorum rules applied to witnesses — noting that Bobulinski “called members of this committee liars” — Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said decorum regulations cited by Raskin only applied to members.

“Am I supposed to say it’s my time, Mr. Raskin?” Bobulinski quipped.

It wasn’t just Raskin who sparred with Bobulinski. When Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) said that Bobulinski “provided zero evidence — zero evidence — of any sort of link between Hunter Biden and the president as it relates to the business dealing,” Bobulinski interrupted to call that a “blatant lie.”

“Actually it’s my time, sir,” Garcia said, before continuing.

Bobulinski also took a jab at Hunter Biden’s absence during the hearing, asking: “Should I allow Hunter to give his opening statement first?” Hunter Biden, through his legal team, had said he would only testify if Comer also called a hearing with members of Trump’s family, namely son-in-law Jared Kushner.

The other Republican witness, Galanis, testified from prison — a fact Democrats cited to question his credibility.

“I want to remind people he is sitting in prison, that’s why he can’t be here today. He’s sitting in prison for scamming workers’ pensions. I mean how low can you get?” asked Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.).

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), a member of the Oversight Committee, was also name checked by former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who was invited by Democrats to testify. Parnas was convicted on charges of campaign finance fraud in 2021.

“My original indictment linked me to an individual referred to as ‘unindicted co-conspirator one.’ We know, now, this individual to be Congressman Pete Sessions who sits on this very committee,” Parnas said.

The committee hearing tensions flared between members, as well. Comer told a Democrat who said they had an inquiry to “state your parliamentary inquiry … we don’t have time for stunts.”

Another GOP member chimed in: “We don’t have time for games by Democrats today.”

Republicans also defeated an attempt by Democrats to subpoena Bobulinski’s phone.