Truth against the Narrative

Nobody doubts that Hunter Biden exploited his father’s name to conduct ethically “reprehensible” business abroad.

What’s missing is that no one has found the irrefutable proof, the famous “smoking gun,” connecting Joe Biden and the “corruption” of his “ne’er-do-well” son. Nonetheless, the leaders of the House of Representatives responsible for the impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden seem convinced of the following story: In 2016, when he was vice president, Biden helped his son by facilitating the dismissal of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin who was investigating the energy company Burisma, of which Hunter Biden was a highly paid director.

Yet, the “truth” contradicts this “narrative.”

“In reality, Shokin was deeply enmeshed in Ukraine’s culture of corruption and, far from being a beacon of transparency, was viewed by many in the West — including some conservative Republican senators — as an obstacle to anti-corruption reforms. There is, in fact, no evidence that Shokin was engaged in an investigation of Burisma, or that Joe Biden’s role in his firing was in any way connected to Burisma.”

This paragraph, as well as the opinions and other words in quotation marks before it, all come from one man — and he isn’t a partisan of Joe Biden. He is none other than the Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck, a pure, hardline conservative, who wrote this in a Washington Post op-ed last Saturday.

At least four other Republican colleagues had publicly questioned the merits of an impeachment inquiry against Biden before House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made the announcement last Tuesday — not to mention the doubts expressed privately by other Republican representatives, including most of the 18 who were elected in 2022 in districts that Biden won.

It is also because of this reluctance that McCarthy opened the investigation without asking the House to ratify it by a vote, which he had promised on Sept. 1. McCarthy wanted to protect his most vulnerable members by sparing them a vote on the subject.

Saving His Job

But McCarthy, above all, wanted to save his job by giving the green light to an impeachment inquiry. At the head of a slim majority, he must deal with an extremist wing, of which one of its most rebellious members, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, threatened to bring him down if he didn’t launch impeachment proceedings against Biden.

By defusing this threat, McCarthy also hoped to give himself greater room to maneuver within his own party, anticipating the final negotiations on funding the government. Without an agreement by Sept. 30, the federal government will experience another shutdown — a scenario that is increasingly likely.

That said, the Republican march toward Biden’s “impeachment” was irreversible. It began even before the first impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump were over.

“And I tell you what, some day there will be a Democrat president and there will be a Republican House, and I suspect they’re going to remember it,” Trump prophesied in December 2019, during the proceedings he was facing for lobbying Volodymyr Zelenskyy to launch an investigation into the Bidens.

Trump finally has the investigation he asked for. But the Republicans’ current allegations are no more substantiated, for the moment, than the Democrats’ ones were at the time.

Certainly, as McCarthy pointed out last Tuesday during a brief press conference, Biden lied (knowingly or not) when he claimed during a 2020 presidential debate that his son had not made money in China.

But did he also lie when he said in 2019 that he had “never spoken” to Hunter Biden about his business dealings? The Republicans showed that Biden met with his son’s business partners and that his son put him on speakerphone about 20 times when he spoke with associates.

’The Illusion of Access’ to His Father

Devon Archer, one of Hunter Biden’s former business partners, testified that these conversations were limited to pleasantries and that Biden had never been involved in his son’s affairs. What Hunter Biden was selling his associates, according to Archer, was “the illusion of access” to his father.

McCarthy also addressed an allegation that Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky paid a $5 million bribe each to Joe and Hunter Biden to get Ukraine’s attorney general fired. The allegation doesn’t hold water not only for the reasons explained above, but also because Zlochevsky himself ended up denying it.

“Bank records show that nearly $20 million in payments were directed to the Biden family members and associates through various shell companies,” McCarthy said.

But McCarthy didn’t specify that Hunter and his uncle, James, the members of the Biden family in question, received only a fraction of the sum mentioned and the “shell companies” are only companies with limited liability, like the hundreds that Donald Trump has.

And he didn’t reveal how these payments were linked to illegal activities.

Up until now, the Republicans’ case against Biden is reminiscent of the phrase used by Rudolph Giuliani regarding election fraud in Arizona: “We’ve got lots of theories, we just don’t have the evidence.”

This is not to say that evidence does not exist regarding Joe Biden — or that Republicans will not discover information along the way that is harmful to the president and has nothing to do with the initial allegations.

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