James Comer Has a New, Unlikely Story for Missed Deposition

When The Daily Beast reported last week that he had missed his committee’s private interview of a key witness in their Biden family investigation, Rep. James Comer (R-KY) might have been able to move on easily, even if his fellow Republicans were peeved over his absence.

Instead, Comer has breathed new life into the story, insisting he was part of the action—even if all the evidence points to the contrary.

At first, Comer’s office confirmed the Oversight Committee chairman did not participate in the July 31 closed-door interview of Devon Archer, a former business partner of Hunter Biden, in Washington, D.C. His spokesman said that “constituent meetings” in Kentucky rendered him unable to attend.

But, as he made the rounds in right-wing media to hype Archer’s testimony after the fact, Comer couldn’t help but make it seem like he was personally involved in interrogating the witness.

In an appearance on Fox & Friends on Saturday morning—after Comer’s office had copped to him missing the interview—a host asked Comer what it was like in the room when Archer was answering questions.

“I had the staff lead the deposition,” Comer replied. “I didn’t want a lot of members in the room… I was on the phone.”

But there are plenty of reasons to doubt Comer’s suggestion that he was participating remotely in the interview.

For one, in the official transcript of the interview released last week, Comer does not identify himself, nor does anyone else allude to his presence. From the GOP side, only Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Andy Biggs (R-AZ) identified themselves or spoke.

Multiple sources familiar with the proceeding said that if Comer did participate, he did so without their knowledge.

“There’s just no way he fucking called in,” said a senior GOP source, who also said they never heard Comer identify himself for the record on the alleged call. “I’ve never even heard of someone doing that for a transcribed interview.”

The only Democratic member to attend, Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY), tweeted on Monday that Comer “was neither present nor on the phone for the Devon Archer interview.”

When asked to provide proof that Comer called in—such as a call log or other phone record—Comer’s spokesman declined to do so, and did not confirm that Comer was specifically on the phone during the proceedings.

“Throughout the transcribed interview, Chairman Comer was in constant communication with committee staff questioning Devon Archer and received updates critical to his investigation into the Biden family’s influence peddling schemes,” the spokesperson said.

The Kentucky Republican’s insistence on digging the hole further—and continuing to make his non-participation a story—has his fellow Republicans baffled.

“I don’t get it,” said the senior GOP source. “Just take the loss and move on, you know?”

The evolving circumstances of Comer’s approach to his committee’s most important investigative action of the year have underscored some GOP concerns about his leadership—and given Democrats ammunition to discredit the probes into the Biden family.

The Congressional Integrity Project, an outside Democratic group that is running interference for the GOP probes, took to calling Comer “No-Show Jamie” and argued he “cannot be trusted to lead any serious endeavor.”

Archer, a former associate of Hunter Biden’s who is set to serve a federal prison sentence for tax fraud, served with the president’s son on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, from 2014 to 2016.

Republicans continue to believe that Burisma is the key to proving their claims that Hunter not only leveraged his father’s position as vice president to enrich them both, but that Biden was bribed to take specific actions.

There is no evidence to support that claim, which Biden and the White House have long vehemently denied since former President Trump was impeached for pressuring Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on the subject in 2019.

Rep. James Comer (R-KY) attends a hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic about the effect of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on students and schools

REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File Photo

Comer’s Oversight Committee, which is spearheading the Biden family investigations, subpoenaed Archer for his testimony, which he willingly provided last week. While Archer’s testimony did not support the GOP’s biggest claims, Comer and his colleagues have continued to talk up alleged revelations from the interview.

In particular, Archer’s appearance has provided a useful foil for Republicans seeking to cast doubt and deflect from Trump’s own criminal indictment last week. Top lawmakers have suggested that the timing of the federal indictment was deliberate to distract from news of the Archer testimony.

As the event has taken on even more significance for Republicans, Comer’s relative disengagement from the proceeding is aging more poorly than perhaps expected.

While it is typical for congressional committee staff to lead such private proceedings—particularly those that fall in a recess period, like the Archer interview—senior committee lawmakers often show up to ask questions and participate, especially for high-profile interviews.

A Republican who spoke to The Daily Beast last week said that Comer’s decision not to come was akin to a general deciding to “stay home instead of fight.”

Ahead of the interview, Comer seemed busy—just with other pursuits. According to his Instagram page, he spent the weekend beforehand competing in a golf tournament in his hometown of Tompkinsville, Kentucky.

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