President Biden’s White House has told America’s news organizations — including CNN, the New York Times and Fox News — to “ramp up their scrutiny” of House Republicans “for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies.”
Melissa Koenig and Steven Nelson
New York Post
Wed, 13 Sep 2023
© AFP via Getty Images
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday ordered an impeachment inquiry into the president’s alleged involvement in his son Hunter Biden’s business deals in countries such as China and Ukraine.
“Through our investigations, we have found that President Biden did lie to the American people about his own knowledge of his family’s foreign business dealings,” the speaker charged, claiming that “these allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption.”
Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office, wrote in a “memo to editorial leadership” at major new outlets that the inquiry has “no evidence that Joe Biden did anything wrong,” which “should set off alarm bells for news organizations.”
Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office
Sams sent the letter first to select outlets on Tuesday and then to a White House press list on Wednesday.
However, the missive raised eyebrows and concerns about the administration dictating editorial direction.
“They should be playing hardball and instead what they’re doing is bitching about the media,” a White House reporter who regularly attends briefings told The Post.
“I don’t think the media likes being told what to do. I think it’s going to backfire,” the reporter said, adding, “It seems to say to me that they believe the media will just do what [the White House] tells them. It’s a terrible look for the administration.”
The journalist added that a “hardball” approach might deflate Republican claims by directly addressing factual disputes and providing context.
“If you want to play hardball, trot out Hunter to say what he did or didn’t do, explain why the payments are a nothingburger,” the reporter said. “Or just issue a rebuttal memo.”
“This is not OK,” journalist Matthew Keys tweeted. “The White House should not be encouraging, influencing or interfering in the editorial strategies of America’s newsrooms, including CNN and the New York Times.”
“Now, any time the media DOES try to hold Republican lawmakers to account, those lawmakers can simply counter by questioning whether it’s actual journalism or something encouraged by the Biden administration.
“All this demonstrates is that the Biden administration has lost confidence in the news media — which I guess mirrors public sentiment over the last few years, too.”
Sams was expected to send the letter to executives at CNN, the New York Times, Fox News, the Associated Press and CBS News, a White House source told CNN, which first reported on the demand.
“The problem is they’re trying to influence coverage,” Keys concluded. “The government should never do that. It is inappropriate.”
“Covering impeachment as a process story — Republicans say X, but the White House says Y — is a disservice to the American public who relies on the independent press to hold those in power accountable,” Sams wrote.
“And in the modern media environment, where everyday liars and hucksters peddle disinformation and lies everywhere from Facebook to FOX, process stories that fail to unpack the illegitimacy of the claims on which House Republicans are basing all their actions only serve to generate confusion, put false premises in people’s feeds and obscure the truth.”
Sams had earlier tweeted on Tuesday: “Will anyone ask Speaker McCarthy *why* an impeachment inquiry is the ‘next logical step’?
“The House GOP investigations have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing by POTUS. In fact, their own witnesses have testified to that, and their own documents have showed no link to POTUS,” he claimed.
“Opening impeachment despite zero evidence of wrongdoing by POTUS is simply red meat for the extreme rightwing so they can keep baselessly attacking him,” Sams said.
Biden has repeatedly claimed he never spoke with his son Hunter or brother James about their foreign ventures, and House Democrats also argue that the Republican investigation into the Biden family has failed to turn up any evidence that would warrant a formal impeachment.
In a statement on Monday, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, slammed the investigation as “a complete and total bust” and “an epic flop in the history of congressional investigations.”
However, in his announcement opening the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, McCarthy asserted:
“Eyewitnesses have testified that the president joined on multiple phone calls and had multiple interactions. Dinners resulted in cars and millions of dollars into his sons and his son’s business partners.”
McCarthy also cited an unproven claim that Joe and Hunter Biden took $10 million in bribes from Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which paid Hunter up to $1 million per year beginning in 2014 as his dad led US policy toward Ukraine.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy claimed investigations into Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings prove the president lied.
“Despite the serious allegations, it appears that the president’s family has been offered special treatment by Biden’s own administration,” McCarthy said — referring to whistleblower allegations of a cover-up in the ongoing criminal investigation of Hunter for tax fraud and other alleged offenses.
“These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption,” the House speaker went on.
“They warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives. That’s why today I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.”
McCarthy added, “This logical next step will give our committees the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public. That’s exactly what we want to know, the answers. I believe the president would want to answer these questions and allegations as well.”
The speaker said Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) would lead the inquiry.
Comer and Jordan will give a presentation Thursday to House Republicans outlining the case against President Biden, including his links to the dealings of Hunter and James Biden in countries such as China and Ukraine and the Biden administration’s alleged stonewalling of requests for information, two sources told The Post.