Voices: Republicans try to distract from the Trump and Santos debacle with a Biden nothingburger

GOP Congresswoman Nancy Mace speaks outside of the Capitol (Getty Images)
GOP Congresswoman Nancy Mace speaks outside of the Capitol (Getty Images)

Earlier this year, I spoke to Republican Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina about the dilemma that the GOP faces when it comes to women after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson ruling. During that time, she excoriated her fellow Republicans for their stance on abortion and told me the GOP was “not going to win hearts and minds over by being a******* to women.”

But on Wednesday, Ms Mace joined a swath of Republicans who alleged, without any hard evidence, that President Joe Biden had committed multiple federal crimes. While the press conference took place, news broke that Representative George Santos, the New York Republican who has come under fire for fabricating large parts of his story out of thin air, surrendered himself to authorities at a federal court in Long Island.

Just the day before, a jury found that former president Donald Trump liable for writer E Jean Carroll’s sexual assault, but not her rape, and said that Mr Trump must pay her $5m. In the days after the January 6 riot, Ms Mace has said that Mr Trump had erased his legacy, but voted against his impeachment and later, ahead of her primary last year, posted a video of herself in front of Trump Tower.

But despite House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s proclamation that his committee “will not pursue witch hunts, or string the American people along for years with false promises of evidence that is beyond circumstantial evidence,” they failed to produce any hard evidence during the press conference, and many reporters seemed incredulous that the chairman would waste time with such flimsy evidence. In doing so, Mr Comer seemed to break one of the cardinal rules of politics, especially when feeding something to reporters: he over-promised and he under-delivered.

Afterward I asked Ms Mace, who is herself a sexual assault survivor who later dropped out of high school before earning her GED and being one of the first female graduates of the Citadel military academy, about the jury’s ruling in New York. She replied, “I haven't had a chance to look at it. I hear the deposition interviews is pretty bad. So I'll take a look at it later this week.” She then pivoted to say, “But it's important that that the American people that both sides are held accountable, Republican or Democrat. That's why we're asking the media today to follow the money on the Biden paper trail and all these bank records like what the hell was going on? This clearly was unethical, immoral, and probably maybe possibly allegedly illegal.”

To her credit, she said Mr Santos needed to resign long before many of her Republican colleagues stepped up to call for his ouster.

But Mr Santos’ legitimate legal trouble as well as Mr Trump’s wound up making the House GOP’s allegations seem all the more farcical and more of a reach. So far, House Republicans have yet to produce a smoking gun showing that Mr Biden directly knew about any legal impropriety or conducted anything illegal during his tenure as vice president.

Furthermore, Mr Comer, and other ostensibly “Responsible Republicans” (it would be a mistake to all any of them moderate) choosing to tie themselves to more right-wing MAGA figures like Jim Jordan, who engaged in a long-winded rant about the US-Mexico border when it was his time to speak, or the election-denying Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, strained the credibility of their investigations and made them seem more conspiratorial and farcical.

But the press conference revealed the biggest problem: The GOP looks like they are being “a******* to women” because they are being led by someone who has prided himself on behaving like one and now the legal system has caught up with him. And since the GOP has refused to expel him, or his acolyte Mr Santos, they have hamstrung their ability to accuse anyone else of impropriety.