Republicans Are Set to Launch Biden Probe Hours After State of the Union

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(Bloomberg) -- Hours after Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union Address to Congress, House Republicans will launch their promised investigation into alleged Biden family “influence peddling,” effectively nullifying any message of unity the president may deliver.

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Expected to testify at the Feb. 8 hearing are several former Twitter Inc. officials who Republicans believe were involved in efforts to restrict access to a 2020 New York Post article about business activities and other contents of a laptop purportedly owned by Hunter Biden, the president’s son, a person familiar said.

House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, in a recent interview, accused the Biden family of selling “access for profit around the world to the detriment of American interests.” The Kentucky Republican has previously said the Biden administration and Big Tech have worked together to “hide information about the Biden family’s suspicious business schemes and Joe Biden’s involvement.”

Biden has denied any knowledge of his son’s business dealings. Comer’s critics consider the investigation political revenge reminiscent of the GOP’s Benghazi probe that was targeted at injuring Hillary Clinton politically ahead of her 2016 presidential bid.

James Baker, Twitter’s former deputy general counsel; Yoel Roth, the former head of trust and safety; and Vijaya Gadde, the former chief legal officer, were invited to testify in a Jan. 11 letter.

Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the panel, said any look into presidential family business dealings and alleged influence peddling must also include scrutiny of former President Donald Trump’s family’s activities. Otherwise, he said in an interview, it appears to be a “hatchet job.”

Hunter Biden, who has battled drug addiction, has been a target for Republicans looking to tar the president with allegations of corruption after five decades in public life.

In 2019, then-President Donald Trump tried to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into the Bidens, an exchange that eventually led to Trump’s first impeachment.

Biden has been preparing for the onslaught by bringing on a team of aides with experience dealing with such matters. His advisers are counting on federal agency staff, congressional Democrats and a revived outside group to help counter GOP-led probes.

This hearing next Wednesday will specifically jump right into a topic that has been a conservative sore point — alleged social media collusion to suppress information tied to Hunter Biden’s purportedly abandoned laptop, a damaged MacBook Pro, dropped off at a Delaware repair shop and never recovered.

The shop owner says he turned the laptop over to the FBI and a copy of the hard drive to Rudy Giuliani, who shared it with the New York Post during the final weeks of the 2020 presidential election.

The Post’s front-page article focused on an email obtained from a copy of a laptop hard drive that allegedly indicated that Hunter Biden introduced a top executive from Burisma to his father while he was vice president. The Post also published several unflattering photos taken from the hard drive.

Twitter limited distribution of the New York Post story, blocking users from sharing links to, and pictures of, the story. A spokesperson for Twitter at the time said it was in line with their hacked-materials policy. Twitter received backlash for the move and eventually revised its policy.

Facebook also restricted the ability of users to share the Post story. Later reporting by other news organizations backed the authenticity of the material cited by the Post, fueling criticism that social media platforms and mainstream media had suppressed legitimate news.

Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that blocking links to the story was wrong.

In one of his early moves as Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk released internal emails showing there was dissension within the company over restricting access to the Post article.

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