Earlier this month, there was a brief surge of concern within right-leaning circles over what appeared to be an attempt to suppress testimony from an individual who purportedly possessed damaging information about President Biden.
The Justice Department unveiled an indictment against a man named Gal Luft, accusing him of assisting Chinese government interests and evading sanctions on Iran while serving as a director at a Washington, D.C.-area think tank.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) had previously identified Luft as a potential witness with unfavorable information about President Biden.
The actual chronology of events, however, differs from the narrative presented. While the Justice Department made the charges public this month, the indictment had been issued back in November.
It seems that Comer and New York Post columnist Miranda Devine only became aware of Luft’s claims about Biden after his arrest earlier this year when he began asserting that he was being targeted due to his knowledge.
Comer and his allies either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented the situation. Nevertheless, it appears they did not internalize any lessons from this incident.
On Sunday, Devine reported that the Justice Department was seeking to imprison Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s former business partner, before his scheduled testimony before Comer’s committee on Monday. Devine claimed that the Justice Department was attempting to “send Archer to jail immediately.”
Comer appeared on Maria Bartiromo’s Sunday morning Fox News show and discussed the letter. He suggested that the letter from the Department of Justice was an attempt to expedite Archer’s sentencing for unrelated charges just before his testimony before the House Oversight Committee.
Comer questioned the timing of the letter, implying it might be part of a broader effort to obstruct the committee’s investigation.
Archer had been a business partner of Hunter Biden for several years. In 2016, during Joe Biden’s vice presidency, Archer and others were indicted on charges of defrauding a Native American tribe.
They were convicted in 2018, and in February of this year, Archer was sentenced to a year in prison. Archer subsequently appealed the decision, and a federal appellate court in New York recently declined to hear his final appeal, informing the presiding judge of this decision.
This situation led U.S. Attorney Damian Williams to send a letter. Importantly, the letter did not demand Archer’s immediate arrest or imprisonment.
Archer’s attorney issued a statement acknowledging the speculation that the Department of Justice’s request might be an attempt to intimidate Archer before his committee testimony. However, Archer himself disagreed with this speculation and confirmed his intention to testify before the Oversight Committee as planned.
The controversy prompted a second letter from Williams, emphasizing that the process of designating a federal facility for Archer’s imprisonment would take time, and he suggested scheduling any surrender date after Archer’s congressional testimony.
Predictably, this second letter, which aimed to counter the rhetoric of Comer and others, was portrayed by House Republicans as evidence of the Justice Department’s wrongdoing. Rep.
Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and other GOP lawmakers alleged that the Justice Department was obstructing a congressional investigation and pledged to hold immediate emergency hearings on this perceived interference.
The overarching point is that Donald Trump has consistently portrayed the Justice Department as adversarial to him since his election victory in 2016. This framing has proven influential among his supporters and has made it easier for them to accept conspiracy theories along these lines.
Devine’s writings often align with this idea, and Comer and his allies use it to attract attention from Trump supporters. Bartiromo provides a platform for these political narratives, all in the service of amplifying the notion that Archer’s testimony is inherently damaging, thereby imbuing it with added significance.
On Monday, after Williams’s second letter and widespread debunking of Devine’s initial claim, the New York Post featured a variation of her conspiracy theory on its front page, suggesting that it was another instance of a misbehaving DOJ. However, it’s not immediately clear that the Justice Department is at fault in this situation.