Democrats Should Not Be So Confident the Biden Impeachment Inquiry Will Be a Bust
By NOAH ROTHMAN
September 13, 2023 3:14 PM391 CommentsListen
Given the evidence the GOP’s investigations have already produced, the White House’s defenders would be wise to hedge their bets.
Following the news that Speaker Kevin McCarthy has lent his imprimatur to an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden, Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman summed up the conventional wisdom to which Democratic partisans are partial in his reliably theatrical and sophomoric style. Pretending to reel from the news, the senator clutched his head in feigned shock. “It’s devastating,” he scoffed, quaking dramatically. “Please don’t do it.”
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Fetterman’s reaction is informed by the politics of past impeachment proceedings. As the editors of National Review concede, the House GOP’s course is a risky one. Impeachments often backfire on the party prosecuting the charges. Republicans do not yet have a smoking gun that would convince the GOP’s impeachment skeptics of the validity of whatever charges an inquiry produces. If Biden were impeached, the Democrat-controlled Senate would almost certainly acquit Biden of the charges. And if the inquiry failed to produce evidence sufficient to prove malfeasance by the president, the logic of the impeachment process might compel Republicans to mount a doomed assault on the Democratic Party’s fixed positions irrespective of the prospects for success.Continue watchingRepublican Senators Call on Attorney General Garland, DOJ to Stop New Mexico’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Gun Orderafter the ad
But Fetterman’s confidence seems predicated on his certainty that the inquiry will produce nothing new of substance to indicate that the president was, if not directly involved, at least complicit in his wastrel son’s fraudulent confidence game. Given the degree to which the GOP’s investigations have produced new and discomfiting evidence undermining Biden’s public statements, Fetterman and his colleagues would be wise to hedge their bets.
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Just about three years ago, the allegations against both Hunter Biden and his father were regarded as fabrications cut from whole cloth. The laptop was fake — perhaps the sophisticated concoction of Russian intelligence. The claim that Hunter Biden received millions from foreign sources, including the wife of Moscow’s former mayor, was “false” according to attorneys. Joe Biden swore he had “never spoken” to his son “about his overseas business dealings.” Credulous Democrats internalized these claims and retailed them broadly, only for the ground to collapse out from under them.
With Republicans poised to retake the House in 2022, the Biden White House struck a defiant note when insisting that it would not cooperate with GOP probes into Hunter Biden. “‘Lots of luck in your senior year,’ as my coach used to say,” the president told reporters in the wake of the GOP’s victories (an inexplicable turn of phrase, despite investigations into its origins). Democrats dismissed the investigation as a politically motivated travesty akin to the GOP’s inquiry into the Fast and Furious scandal, which, Representative Gerry Connolly strangely insisted, “went nowhere.”
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The outset of the new House GOP majority’s investigation was deemed to have landed with a “thud.” House Republicans’ investigation was “flopping” because it had failed to resonate with the broader voting public. But the Republican Party’s inquiry was in reality bearing fruit. Representative James Comer’s Oversight Committee produced bank records substantiating claims that Democrats had dismissed for lack of evidence, including millions in receipts from foreign sources. To the claims that Democrats were being too blasé, White House spokesperson Ian Sams responded with yet more apathy. “Congressman Comer has a history of playing fast and loose with the facts and spreading baseless innuendo while refusing to conduct his so-called ‘investigations’ with legitimacy,” Sams said in a statement. Democrats echoed the White House’s claims, even borrowing its language about Comer’s efforts to traffic in mere “innuendo.”
Sams continued to respond to tranche after tranche of new revelations about Hunter Biden’s conduct and his father’s apparent complicity in his schemes by sticking to the contention that Comer’s was an “evidence-free” investigation. The White House’s talking points remained remarkably consistent even as the GOP uncovered written communications indicating Hunter Biden and his father had communicated about his business dealings, agreements inside the family regarding the remuneration Joe Biden expected from certain dealings, evidence that the president was in direct contact with his son’s business partners, and on-the-record claims from government officials that federal law enforcement bent over backward to shield Hunter Biden from the consequences of his actions.
Through it all, Democrats clung to the thin reed of Joe Biden’s deniable links to his son’s financial gains. They called the investigation a “clown show” and a distraction. They insisted Biden’s son was merely selling the “illusion” of access to his father — a lowly con man roping jet-setting dupes across the globe into believing they had purchased real access to the highest echelons of American government. “House Republicans have been investigating the president for nine months, and they’ve turned up no evidence of wrongdoing,” Sams said as recently as this week. In an appearance on CNN Wednesday morning, Sams maintained that “no business dealings of Hunter Biden’s or anyone’s was [sic] discussed” in the president’s conversations with his family.
This is not to say that there has been zero evolution in how Democrats have responded to Republican claims. The Biden campaign and, subsequently, the Biden White House’s talking points have matured. Biden’s denial that he “never discussed business” with his family transformed into “the President was never in business with his son,” which subsequently became “there is no evidence to link President Biden to anything related to his son.” Each iteration of the president’s defense of his and his family’s conduct was repeated with emphatic credulity by his Democratic allies, who are seemingly impervious to any sense of embarrassment over having been misled.
Maybe Democrats are not gambling with high stakes. Maybe Comer’s investigation won’t turn up anything more damning than it already has. Maybe the only compensation Joe Biden ever received from facilitating Hunter’s business transactions was the satisfaction a loving father gets from seeing his son’s financial well-being secured. Maybe. But given the pattern of events and the way in which Democrats have been buffeted by them, why would the president’s party be confident that an impeachment inquiry will be a fruitless pursuit? At the very least, prudent Democrats might want to keep their options open.
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