US Democrat dons Putin mask, mocks Republicans at Biden impeachment hearing

During a hearing on Wednesday concerning the impeachment of the US President Joe Biden, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party donned a Vladimir Putin mask to accuse Republicans of falling for Russian disinformation.

Publication: 20.03.2024 - 23:25
US Democrat dons Putin mask, mocks Republicans at Biden impeachment hearing
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Republicans in Congress sought to advance their impeachment probe of President Joe Biden at a hearing on Wednesday where a lawmaker from his Democratic Party donned a Vladimir Putin mask to accuse Republicans of falling for Russian disinformation.

Republicans in the House of Representatives allege, but have yet to prove, that Biden and members of his family improperly profited from policy decisions in which he took part while President Barack Obama's vice president from 2009-17.

"I just came to thank James Comer for taking all of our intelligence and using it in the committee," Representative Jared Moskowitz said from behind the Putin mask on his way to the Oversight Committee hearing chaired by the Republican Comer. Moskowitz did not wear the mask inside the hearing.

Asked what the lawmaker meant by wearing a mask depicting the Russian president, Moskowitz's office said: "James Comer did the bidding of Vladimir Putin. The mask was worn to provide that visual."

An early source of information for the Republican probe was a former FBI informant since charged with lying that a Ukrainian businessman bribed Biden and his son. Prosecutors have said the informant had ties to Russian intelligence.

During the occasionally contentious hearing, representatives heard from two former business associates of Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and a former associate of former President Donald Trump.

The White House has said the investigation is baseless and politically motivated.

"It is obviously time to move on, Mr. Speaker. This impeachment is over. There is too much important work to be done for the American people to continue wasting time on this charade," White House counsel Edward Siskel wrote in a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, last week.

Jason Galanis, who appeared virtually from the prison where he is serving a sentence for unrelated fraud charges, and Tony Bobulinski detailed how they spoke with President Biden during their dealings with Hunter Biden, though neither described conversations in which the president spoke to them about their business activities.

Both Bobulinski and Galanis have previously appeared for closed-door interviews with the panel, and their public testimony largely retraced what they had discussed then, according to transcripts. At times, Bobulinski verbally assailed Biden and some of the Democrats participating in the hearing.

The panel had invited Hunter Biden and business associate Devon Archer, but both declined. Hunter Biden's lawyer said the younger Biden was unable to attend due to a conflicting court hearing in California.

The panel nevertheless set up an empty chair and name tag for Hunter Biden. "Hunter Biden demanded a public hearing. I've given him one. Maybe he will show up," Comer said.

Democrats on the House panel invited Lev Parnas, a businessman who worked with former President Donald Trump's then-lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to try to uncover evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and his family in Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election in which Biden defeated Trump, a Republican.

It was unclear when House Republicans would decide on next steps in the probe. Comer has said publicly that he was considering making criminal referrals instead of drafting articles of impeachment, though he has yet to say who or what crimes those referrals would target.

The Republicans' slim House majority will likely make impeachment difficult. The chamber held a second vote last month to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, the administration's top border official, after a first vote failed.

The Democratic-led Senate, which has yet to take it up, will almost certainly vote to acquit Mayorkas.

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