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House Republicans request interview with White House physician

House Republicans are opening an investigation into President Joe Biden’s doctor in the wake of his debate performance — the latest sign that Democrats’ political headaches are only growing.

House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a letter to White House physician Kevin O’Connor on Sunday requesting that he appear behind closed doors for a transcribed interview with committee counsel. Comer is giving O’Connor until July 14 to contact staff to schedule the interview.

“Americans question President Biden’s ability to lead the country. … [The committee] is investigating circumstances surrounding your assessment in February of this year that ‘President Biden is a healthy, active, robust 81-year-old-male, who remains fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency,” Comer wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.

O’Connor, in his February report, said that Biden took “an extremely detailed neurologic exam” and that there were “no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder.” He also described Biden as having a stiffer gait, but that he is a “healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.”

Comer is the first House Republican to open an investigation in the wake of Biden’s debate performance that has sparked growing concerns among Democrats — including calls from a handful of House lawmakers for him to step out of the presidential race. Biden has been adamant that he is staying in the race, though an ABC News sitdown failed to quell the open skepticism within the party.

There was already growing panic among Democrats that the political fallout from Biden’s debate performance could spill into congressional fights as the GOP’s campaign arms quickly rushed to try to box in House and Senate Democrats about if they believed Biden was fit for office.

But Comer’s letter is also a sign that House Republicans will also use the powers of their slim majority to weigh into the fallout. There’s been a growing push from the House’s right flank, including members of Comer’s committee, for Republicans to take such a step, with GOP members floating launch hearings or subpoenaing White House officials, O’Connor in particular.

And the Kentucky Republican, in his letter to O’Connor, linked the investigation back to a separate impeachment inquiry, which has largely focused on the family deals of Biden’s family members. Republicans don’t have the votes to impeach Biden, as they’ve failed to win over skeptics within their own conference who don’t believe that investigators have shown that Biden committed a crime or an impeachable offense. And while Democrats have also voiced concerns about Biden’s mental acuity over the last week, Comer referencing his impeachment inquiry investigation — as well two checks from Jim Biden to Joe Biden that representatives for both have repeatedly said are loan repayments — is likely to spark fierce Democratic pushback.

Comer is asking O’Connor to hand over any documents or communications he has that relate to Jim Biden, Joe Biden’s brother, or Americore, questioning if O’Connor is “in a position to provide accurate and independent reviews of the President’s fitness to serve.”

Jim Biden requested O’Connor’s help in 2017 — when Joe Biden was out of office — as part of his work linked to Americore, according to emails previously obtained by POLITICO and Jim Biden’s closed-door interview as part of the impeachment inquiry. That includes Jim Biden and O’Connor meeting with the head of a Pennsylvania hospital that Americore was in the process of acquiring in July 2017, POLITICO previously reported.

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