Morning Joe: House Republicans Are 'Crazy,' But Hunter Biden Shouldn't Dodge Public Hearing

March 14th, 2024 12:48 PM

With Joe Scarborough having the day off from Morning Joe, there was no mocking of House Investigations Committee Chairman Jim Comer's southern accent. No claims that Arnold the Pig from Green Acres could do a better job. No stereotypes of Kentuckians like Comer being hillbillies with "a squirrel fryer and a hound dog," toting a "coonskin cap and a shotgun."

Instead, the show settled for Mika calling the Republicans on the committee "crazy." And they had "nothing" on Joe Biden! 

But two of the panelists actually suggested it was a mistake for Hunter, via his lawyer, to announce that he would not be appearing at a public hearing the committee has scheduled for next week. Elise Jordan said, "I really question the decision not to just show up," given that "he was fighting for public testimony, I believe, just a couple months ago."

Jonathan Lemire agreed, noting that Hunter's decision not to appear represents "a bit of a surprising decision" and "a bit of an about face, because Hunter Biden and his team had been the ones really pushing for that public hearing."

Indeed, back in November, in that same item in which Scarborough mocked Comer's accent, we caught Scarborough blasting the committee for scheduling a private hearing for Hunter instead of agreeing to his demand for a public hearing.

Here, Hunter's wish for a public hearing has been granted -- but he's giving it the slip.

At one point, after noting Hunter would consider appearing if the committee also called Trump children, Mika--playing the whataboutism game--suggested it was "unseemly" for members of Donald Trump's family to do billion-dollar deals with the Saudis. Making her case, at one point Mika stage-whispered into her hand, "Khashoggi."

That was a reference to Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist whose murder the CIA concluded had been ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Joe Biden Mohammed bin Salman 7-22 So, Mika: if dealings by the Trump family were "unseemly" because of the Khashoggi-bin Salman connection, how "unseemly" was it for President Biden to share a friendly bro-style fist bump with . . . Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman?

Here's the transcript.

Morning Joe
6:16 am ET

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Welcome back. The attorney for Hunter Biden says the president's son will not testify next week in a public hearing for the House Oversight Committee. Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, sent a letter to committee chair James Comer, declining the request, and calling the hearing a, quote, carnival sideshow. 

Lowell added his client would consider testifying publicly before the committee if the panel also included relatives of former President Trump.

Comer responded with a statement dismissing the letter, and writing that he still expects Hunter Biden to appear with three of Hunter's former business associates. 

Elise, let me get this straight. So far, they've come up with [mimicks scratching items off a list], A: nothing. B: nothing. C: nothing.

And if you did look at Donald Trump's family members, you would be able to see that they have benefitted in many ways that seem inappropriate. Perhaps as inappropriate as some of the relationships that Hunter had that ultimately added up to no law breaking. But I don't know, $2 billion from Saudi Arabia, it just seems kind of -- it seems unseemly. I could be wrong. I mean, maybe it's okay. Umm [whispers into her hand] Khashoggi. 

ELISE JORDAN: It's completely unseemly.

MIKA: I mean, are you kidding me? These people are crazy.

JORDAN: I just wonder, though: why doesn't Hunter just come back and do it publicly and have it air in the court of public opinion? Because, he was fighting for public testimony, I believe, just a couple months ago. 

And I think he would benefit from that, frankly, just for more clown show to be shown to the public. And then, he'll come across as likable and as someone who's just paying his penance for his addiction --

MIKA: Ughh!

JORDAN: -- and trying to move beyond.

So I really question the decision not to just show up and do it and submit to what will be definitely unpleasant and uncomfortable, but ultimately gets more of his side of the story out there to the public.

JONATHAN LEMIRE: Bit of a surprising decision, since by all accounts, Hunter Biden got the best of the closed-door hearing, the private hearing a few weeks ago. Republicans came out of it sort of embarrassed and baffled by the lack of questioning, and the fact that James Comer, the chair, didn't even take a single question. And Hunter Biden and his team felt really good about how it went.

And their whole the strategy in recent months has been really aggressive and pushing back on Republicans. Now, he does have a trial, hearings, looming out in California on the gun and tax charges. That trial scheduled to start in June. So that may be part of his thinking here. And certainly, you know, people close to him say he does not want to be a distraction for his father's re-election campaign.

But Mika, it is a bit of an about face, because Hunter Biden and his team had been the ones really pushing for that public hearing. Republicans saying they still want him to show up anyway.