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WASHINGTON (AP) — Even with their smeared majority in the House of Representatives, Republicans this week doubled down on the use of their new power next year to scrutinize the Biden administration and the president’s son in particular.

But the mid-term results emboldened the White House, which had long been preparing for this moment. Republicans secured much smaller margins than anticipated, and aides to President Joe Biden and other Democrats believe voters have punished the GOP for relying on conspiracy theories and lies fueled by Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

They see it as reaffirming the administration’s midterm strategy and focusing on and continuing with legislative achievements, unlike Trump-aligned candidates whose complaints about the president’s son played on their most loyal supporters and were too far in the weeds for the average American. Democrats retained control in the Senate, and the GOP margin in the House is expected to be the smallest major in two decades.

“If you look back, we got seats in New York, New Jersey, California,” said Mike DuHaime, a Republican strategist and director of public affairs. “These were not voters who came to the polls because they wanted Hunter Biden to be investigated – quite the opposite. They came to the polls because they were nervous about inflation. They are appalled by gas prices. They are appalled by what is happening with the war in Ukraine.”

But House Republicans used their first post-majority press conference to discuss President Hunter Biden’s son and the Justice Department, renewing long-held grievances over what they believe is a politicized law enforcement and b*mbshell corruption case overlooked by Democrats and the media.

“Since their first press conference, these Congressional Republicans have made it clear that they’re going to do one thing in this new Congress, which is to investigate, and they’re doing it as a political payoff for Biden’s efforts on a program that helps working people,” said Kyle Herrig, founder Congressional Integrity Project, a newly relaunched multi-million dollar effort by Democratic strategists to counter the House GOP probe att*ck.

At the White House, the attorney’s office added staff a few months ago and bolstered communications efforts, with staff deeply engrossed in research and preparations for the att*ck. They worked to try to identify their own weaknesses and plan effective responses. But anything the House is looking for in relation to Hunter Biden, who is not a White House employee, will come from his lawyers, who have declined to respond to the allegations.

Rep. James Comer, future chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said there were “disturbing questions” of the highest importance regarding the business interests of Hunter Biden and one of the president’s brothers, James Biden, that needed further investigation. He said they’re also investigating the president.

“Eradicating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government is the core mission of the Oversight Committee,” said Comer, R-Ky. “Therefore, this investigation has the highest priority.”

Republican lawmakers promised a slew of new information last week, but so far they’ve provided a condensed overview of several years of complaints about Hunter Biden’s business interests, stretching back to conspiracy theories raised by Trump.

Hunter Biden joined the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma in 2014, around the time his father, then vice president, was helping run the Obama administration’s foreign policy towards Ukraine. Senate Republicans said the nomination may have created a conflict of interest, but did not provide evidence that the employment influenced US policy and did not implicate Joe Biden in any wrongdoing.

Republican lawmakers and their staff have spent the past year analyzing messages and financial transactions found on a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden. They had long discussed issuing congressional subpoenas to foreign entities that did business with him, and recently brought in James Mandolfo, a former federal prosecutor, to assist with the investigation as chief counsel to the Oversight Committee.

The difference now is that Republicans will have the right to subpoena.

“Republicans will move forward,” said Tom Davis, a Republican attorney who specializes in congressional investigations and legislative strategy. “I think their members are enthusiastic about doing these things…there are a lot of unanswered questions. Look, the 40-year trend is that parties under-research their own and over-research the other side. It didn’t start here.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed the GOP’s focus on investigations as “brand” thinking.

“They said they’re going to fight inflation, they said they’re going to make that a priority and then they get a majority, and their top priority is not to focus on the American family but on the president’s family,” she said.

Even some newly elected Republicans oppose the idea.

“The top priority is dealing with inflation and the cost of living. … What I don’t want to see is what we’ve seen in the Trump administration, where Democrats have been constantly att*cking the president and the administration,” Elect Mike Lawler of New York told CNN.

Hunter Biden’s taxes and foreign business activities are already under federal investigation, and a Delaware grand jury has heard testimony in recent months.

While he never held a presidential campaign or White House position, his board membership of a Ukrainian energy company and his efforts to close deals in China have long raised questions about whether he traded in his father’s public service, including according to reference reports in his e-mails. -emails to the “big guy”.

Joe Biden said he never discussed his overseas activities with his son, and there is no indication that a federal investigation has involved the president.

Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters have put forward a widely discredited theory that Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to protect his son and Burisma from investigation. Biden did push for the prosecutor’s dismissal, but that was a reflection of the official stance not only of the Obama administration but of many Western countries, and because the prosecutor was perceived to be lenient on corruption.

House Republicans also signaled impending investigations into immigration, government spending, and parental rights. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray have been announced as potential witnesses.

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has long complained about the politicized Department of Justice and the ongoing Trump investigations.

On Friday, Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate, as well as key aspects of a separate investigation into the January 6, 2021 uprising and attempts to invalidate the 2020 election.

Trump, in a speech Friday night at his Mar-a-Lago estate, denounced the development as “the latest in a long series of witch hunts.”

Joe and Hunter Biden asked, “Where is their special prosecutor?”

Matt Mackowiak, a Republican political strategist, said it’s one thing if the Hunter Biden investigation turns to corruption, but if it turns into the kind of malicious news that circulates in far-right circles: “No, I don’t know the public will be she had a lot of patience for it.”

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Associated newspaper writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

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