Exclusive: Senior Republican tries to wriggle out of Beau Biden row after comments cause backlash

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer tells The Independent he never said President Biden’s late son should have been prosecuted after complaining that the Delaware US Attorney ‘had an opportunity to go after the Bidens years ago’

Andrew Feinberg
Friday 03 March 2023 19:47 GMT
CPAC crowd boos Anthony Fauci during cable news compilation on Covid origins

House Oversight Committee James Comer angrily denied lamenting that Beau Biden, the late son of President Joe Biden, should have faced criminal charges over a campaign finance scandal in which he was found not to have committed any wrongdoing whatsoever.

Mr Comer, a Kentucky Republican, made the incendiary comments during an appearance on disgraced ex-Fox News host Lou Dobbs’ podcast last week, citing a years-old campaign finance scandal centered around a powerful Delaware beverage distributor, Christopher Tigani, who was sentenced to prison in 2012 for illegally funneling contributions to First State political campaigns. The investigation which led to his incarceration was led by David Weiss, a veteran prosecutor whom former president Donald Trump appointed as the US Attorney for Delaware in 2018.

Mr Weiss, who is also investigating the president’s surviving son, Hunter Biden, has been allowed to remain on the job by the elder Mr Biden in order to avoid the appearance of any political influence on the ongoing probe. The House Oversight chair implied that Mr Weiss’ failure to charge Beau Biden or his father for any crime arising from Tigani’s illegal campaign donations indicates impropriety on the part of the prosecutor.

Mr Comer’s remarks drew a strong rebuke from veterans groups as well as the White House.

But when approached by The Independent at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, the Kentucky Republican accused the press and the Biden administration of mischaracterising his comments.

“You need to watch the tape, that is a lie –the White House said that, that is not true,” he said.

He claimed that “all” he’d said was that Mr Weiss “had an opportunity to look into Joe Biden for campaign contributions” in response to a prompt from Dobbs, and argued that his only reference to the president’s late son was an observation that he was Delaware’s attorney general at the time of the probe into Tigani.

“I just said he was attorney general during a case ... Lou Dobbs asked about the attorney, the US Attorney in Delaware. And I said, all we know is ... there was one opportunity... he had an opportunity to look into Joe Biden for campaign contributions. He didn't, [and] the person that made the contributions was sent to jail, Beau Biden was attorney general at the time, and nothing happened. I never said anything negative about Joe Biden, and I never said Joe Biden should be indicted, which is what the White House said — that's a complete lie,”

But Mr Comer’s attempt to disclaim having ever suggested that Beau Biden should have faced criminal jeopardy doesn’t match what he actually said on Dobbs’ podcast.

At the time, he said Mr Weiss “had an opportunity to go after the Bidens years ago”.

“In fact, it was Beau Biden, the president’s other son, that was involved in some campaign donations from a person that got indicted as well,” he said “But, you know, nothing ever happened. So I don’t know much about this U.S. attorney [Weiss] other than he’s had an opportunity to investigate the Bidens before and he chose not to”.

The Independent pointed out that Beau Biden had recused himself from any involvement in a state-level probe into Tigani and named a special prosecutor who later found that neither Beau Biden, Joe Biden, nor any of the other candidates who recieved illegal contributions had been aware of the donations’ illegality or committed any wrongdoing in relation to Tigani’s scheme.

Mr Comer replied: “So what’s your point?”

He later claimed that he “never said anything negative about Joe Biden” and “certainly didn't suggest Joe Biden should have been indicted”.

“I just stated the obvious, that this US attorney who seems to be taking a long time in prosecuting Hunter Biden has been around a long time and there was one other opportunity when the Bidens were involved in something he was investigating,” he said. “I never suggested Joe Biden did anything wrong. I just stated the obvious — the guy that Joe Biden received campaign donation from ended up going to jail. That's all I know”.

The Republican congressman’s outrageous claim about Beau Biden, an Army National Guard Judge Advocate who died from the effects of brain cancer in 2015 after serving in Iraq, have largely gone uncondemned by Mr Comer’s fellow Republicans at the annual conservative confab.

Multiple GOP representatives approached by The Independent at the event site declined to condemn Mr Comer, but none would defend his remarks either.

“I haven't seen the remarks so I'm probably not going to comment,” said Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida.

His Sunshine State colleague, freshman Representative Kat Cammack, also told The Independent she had neither seen nor heard the Oversight Committee chair’s comments about the president’s late son.

A spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office, Ian Sams, called Mr Comer’s statements about Beau Biden “appalling” and said they “deserve to be condemned by any leader with decency” in a statement on Thursday.

Naveed Shah, the political director for veterans group Common Defense, told reporters in a press conference on Friday that it was “disgusting” for Mr Comer to “come on and draw any sort of disparagement on Major Biden's service, or his record”.

“It's not hard to see where his disrespect and denigration of his service comes from. [Rep. Comer] may pay lip service to veterans, as unfortunately many of our other elected officials do. But when it comes down to it he doesn't actually support or respect us, and that is unconscionable for me as a veteran and as a leader of a grassroots movement,” he said.

Camille Breaux, an organizer for the veterans group who served in the US Navy, said Mr Comer “should be ashamed of himself and he should apologize for what he said”.

“I proudly enlisted and swore an oath quite a few times and served for 20 years. And I proudly serve alongside some of the best people, people who sacrificed a lot and the name of our country. This is why it pains me so much to hear a fellow service member, Beau Biden, being mocked away by Representative Comer and using his position to exploit veterans,” she said.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in