Ranking Member Raskin Denounces Committee Republicans’ Overbroad Subpoenas for Irrelevant, Personal Financial Information
Washington, D.C. (October 26, 2023)—Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, sent a letter to Chairman James Comer denouncing Committee Republicans’ abuse of the Committee’s subpoena power by issuing a blanket demand for a decade’s worth of private citizens’ personal bank records as part of their baseless impeachment inquiry. Contrary to Chairman Comer’s misrepresentations, the more than 14,000 pages of bank records obtained by the Oversight Committee do not show any wrongdoing by President Biden and in fact establish that the President was not involved in and did not profit from his family members’ business ventures.
Last month, at the conclusion of the first hearing on the impeachment inquiry declared by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Chairman Comer announced that he and Chairman Jim Jordan were issuing three subpoenas to obtain bank records for Hunter Biden, James Biden, Eric Schwerin, and their business entities. Chairman Comer justified these subpoenas by referencing former Speaker McCarthy’s unilateral directive to three Committees to open an impeachment inquiry and claiming that these subpoenas would assist the Committee in drafting legislation.
“Setting aside the fact that, in light of Congressman McCarthy’s sudden ouster as Speaker at the hands of the Republican Conference, there is no longer any discernible procedural basis for an impeachment inquiry, your subpoenas are in no way tailored to seek information relevant to your asserted legislative purpose. . . . These subpoenas represent a stunning abuse of the Committee’s subpoena authority and create a deeply troubling precedent of using the power of the gavel to demand unfettered access to private citizens’ irrelevant financial records,” wrote Ranking Member Raskin.
Each of the new subpoenas demands nearly ten years of documents, including “[a]ll financial records” for each of the named private citizens, including personal bank accounts, with no limiting criteria or effort to identify particular transactions, counterparties, countries, or any other specific category of records that might in some way bear upon the alleged transactions on which Chairman Comer has stated his investigation is based. Despite testimony from Committee Republicans’ own expert that the “relevant office [for purposes of an impeachment inquiry] should remain the presidency, not the vice presidency, of Joe Biden,” these subpoenas for the bank records of the President’s family members cover not just the vice presidency, but years when President Biden held no public office.
This is not the first time that, as part of Chairman Comer’s Biden family probe, he has subpoenaed—and banks have produced—the personal financial transactions of private citizens that have no relevance to any legitimate congressional inquiry. Similar to Committee Republicans’ subpoena of John R. Walker’s financial information earlier in this baseless investigation, these most recent subpoenas have already resulted in the production of information related to thousands of personal transactions of the President’s family members that are irrelevant to any legitimate congressional inquiry, including payments for routine consumer expenses such as life insurance policies, doctor visits, holiday and birthday presents, groceries, vet visits and pet care, and plumbing repairs, and the references to multiple college savings accounts and one youth bank account for grandchildren of the President.
Of even greater concern is Chairman Comer’s willingness to cherry-pick and misrepresent the content of these bank records. Despite the Oversight Committee receiving the exact bank record showing that President Biden made a $200,000 interest-free loan to his brother James Biden, Chairman Comer has repeatedly omitted that fact, falsely suggesting President Biden is “$200,000 better off today because of his family’s influence peddling scheme.” For example, on Friday, October 20, Chairman Comer released a check dated March 1, 2018, in the amount of $200,000 from James Biden to his brother marked “loan repayment.” The bank records provided to the Committee clearly showed that President Biden had wired $200,000 to his brother on January 12, 2018—less than two months earlier. Despite clear evidence that this transaction was a short-term, interest-free loan between brothers, which occurred while President Biden was also a private citizen, Chairman Comer misleadingly told Fox News, “I don’t believe” that “Joe Biden did give his brother a loan,” and falsely asserted to Fox Business, “there is no document that shows there was a loan,” among other misrepresentations.
“The sweeping overbreadth of these subpoenas makes clear their true purpose: to continue this baseless and voyeuristic fishing expedition; heckle the President with distortions and cherry-picked facts; distract from Donald Trump’s four criminal indictments on 91 different felony criminal charges and recent judgments that he sexually assaulted a woman in New York and fraudulently inflated the value of his businesses; and attempt to boost Mr. Trump’s prospects for election in 2024,” continued Ranking Member Raskin.
Click here to read the letter.