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House Oversight chairman requests materials from Hunter and James Biden

(CNN) — House Oversight Chairman James Comer sent his first official request on Thursday to President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and the president’s brother, James Biden, for documents relating to their foreign business dealings.

Comer, a Republican from Kentucky, is requesting a trove of documents from the pair, as well as from a close associate of Hunter Biden, Eric Schwerin, as the next step in his panel’s investigation into the Biden family. The requests come after Comer made requests for information from the Treasury Department about the Biden family’s financial transactions, and Comer has vowed to investigate the Biden family.

“Hunter Biden, James Biden, and Eric Schwerin are key witnesses in our investigation of Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s international and domestic business schemes. Evidence obtained in our investigation reveals the Biden family business model is built on Joe Biden’s political career and connections,” Comer said.

Comer alleges in his letter to Hunter Biden that he and his associates “peddled influence to generate millions of dollars for the Biden family,” and claims the committee has evidence revealing the president’s son has engaged in foreign business deals with individuals connected to the Chinese Communist Party, as well as “received significant amounts of money from foreign companies without providing any known legitimate services.”

Comer requests Hunter Biden specifically turn over materials relating classified documents from any government body, and specifically the US intelligence community, as well as communications with his father, James Biden and Sara Biden regarding travel with a government agency, general financial activity, and their communications relating to a series of foreign individuals. Comer asked the materials be turned over by February 22.

Comer also claims that James Biden is a “central figure” in the international and domestic business transactions of the Biden family.

“Evidence shows you communicated with Hunter Biden and others regarding relevant companies, investments, and payments,” Comer wrote in his letter to James Biden.

Hunter Biden attorney Abbe David Lowell bashed Comer for seeking the documents and claims that his allegations are “inaccurate.”

“Peddling your own inaccurate and baseless conclusions under the guise of a real investigation turns the Committee into ‘Wonderland’ and you into the Queen of Hearts shouting, ‘sentence first, verdict afterwards,’” Lowell wrote.

Lowell claimed that Comer is trying to invent a “legislative purpose” to support his request.

Lowell wrote that when in the minority, Republican members were “vocal opponents” of House Democrats seeking similar information from former President Donald Trump and his family.

“Whether you think Mr. Biden acted properly or not, and whether you think his private business dealings and associations are inappropriate or not, his behavior is that of a private citizen, not a public official” Lowell wrote. “There was and is no family business in which he ever worked. He did not become a member of his father’s Administration. He does not maintain holdings that could be affected by the Administration’s actions. He was and is not in a position to use any of his positions in any family company or the Administration to now seek new business opportunities.”

The documents Comer requests from Hunter and James Biden include any classified documents in their possession, communications with a wide range of individuals, records of domestic or international travel with a government agency, and international and domestic financial activity.

Comer lays out in the letters that the committee has increased interest into whether President Biden possessed any knowledge or had role in these foreign business deals as part of its probe into whether the president “compromised our national security at the expense of the American people.”

He also states his panel plans to “examine drafting legislation to strengthen federal ethics laws regarding public officials and their families” and will “analyze and make recommendations regarding federal laws and regulations to ensure that financial institutions have the proper internal controls and compliance programs to alert federal agencies of potential money laundering activity.”

The inclusion of a potential legislative purpose comes amid criticism from Democrats that Comer did not have one in pursuing his investigation of Biden’s family.

“There is no oversight jurisdiction in Congress unless there’s a legislative purpose. And investigating a civilian son of a president is not a legislative purpose before Congress,” New York Democrat Dan Goldman, a member of both the House Oversight Committee, recently told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“So, the only justification for these attacks on Hunter Biden is that it’s somehow linked to oversight of the president. But we’ve seen no evidence of that, and if they have no evidence — and I suspect they don’t — then this entire investigation is illegitimate, overreaching and outside of the jurisdiction, and it should be stopped immediately.”

Comer’s requests come after attorneys for Hunter Biden recently called for a criminal probe into a computer repair shop owner, Rudy Giuliani and number of right-wing political figures involved in disseminating contents of his laptop, alleging that they committed computer and other criminal violations in their effort to “weaponize” the laptop contents against his father.

Given Republicans’ new role in the majority, Comer has subpoena power to compel such materials. Comer has told CNN he may consider subpoenaing certain materials from the Biden family if they do not comply with his requests.

Lowell went as far as to say that Comer’s investigation into “non-existent and far-fetched criminal conspiracies” is prosecutorial, which he said was “an activity reserved for the executive branch and for the courts.”

Instead of saying his client will respond to the requests request, Lowell offered to sit with Comer and his staff “to see whether Mr. Biden has information that may inform some legitimate legislative purpose and be helpful to the Committee.”