Discover more from Diane Francis
January 12, 2023
More shenanigans loom now that Republican radicals control more House committees since holding House leader Kevin McCarthy hostage. They plan to “weaponize” the House – in retaliation for institutional weaponization they claim was aimed against Donald Trump — by launching investigations into the Department of Justice, FBI, intelligence community, IRS, the Pentagon, and Democrats. Some intend to recreate Britain’s Star Chamber, which not only replicated but overruled courts, in order to derail legal actions against Trump. Others aim to impeach President Joe Biden or, at the very least, have him investigated for not returning classified documents that turned up this week that belong the National Archives. But their biggest target is Hunter Biden, the President’s son, whose troubled life they will put under a media microscope in the hopes of injuring his father. As Kentucky Republican James Comer, and a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, explained: “We’re not investigating Hunter Biden, we’re investigating Biden family influence-peddling.”
This accusation was first made in 2019 by Trump who claimed that as Vice President Joe Biden “went to Ukraine and threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid if they did not fire the prosecutor that was investigating his son and the company [Burisma Holdings] that his son worked for.” Trump had it wrong. Hunter Biden was never under investigation in Ukraine, and Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its prosecutor but so did many others because he was ineffective. In May 2019, the Editor of The Kyiv Post wrote: “in so doing, he [Vice President Biden] called for a decision supported by both Ukrainian reformers and Kyiv’s Western partners. No conspiracy here.”
However, there is little question that years ago the two Bidens exercised poor judgment. Hunter should never have accepted a lucrative directorship from a tainted Ukrainian oligarch because of his father’s position which included oversight into local business and judicial practices. Furthermore, Joe Biden should have prohibited him from doing so, especially after State Department officials warned that his son’s position with the company “could create the perception of a conflict of interest”. At the very least, pointed out ethics lawyer Richard Painter who advised George W. Bush, Joe Biden should have recused himself from matters relating to Ukraine as long as Hunter was involved there. He did not.
Hunter Biden has been cashing in on his name for years. His Ukraine gig, for instance, netted an estimated $50,000 monthly in director’s fees, according to The New York Times. To be fair, however, Aleksander Kwasniewski, former President of Poland, also cashed in by joining the Burisma advisory board just before Hunter Biden did. In an interview with Associated Press, he was forthcoming about this practice of “celebrity” shopping by corporations. “I understand that if someone asks me to be part of some project it’s not only because I’m so good, it’s also because I am Kwasniewski and I am a former president of Poland. And this is all inter-connected. No-names are a nobody. Being Biden is not bad. It’s a good name and seeking `names’ to sit on boards is how business works,” he said.
Kwasniewski said Biden never used his relationship with his father to further the company’s interests and Hunter checked out the company first before joining its board. He told Hunter that Burisma was “transparent”, committed to good management practices, and that, if the company succeeded in tapping into Ukraine’s gas deposits, it would help Ukraine gain energy independence from Russia. This was why Kwasniewski, who ran Poland from 1995 to 2005, signed onto its board.
Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian connection was also at the root of Trump’s 2019 impeachment. A U.S. whistleblower accused President Trump of threatening to withhold $400 million in military aid to Ukraine that year in order to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden and Burisma as a means of derailing Joe Biden’s candidacy. He was impeached by the House, then acquitted by the Senate.
Another Hunter controversy involved his 2013 trip to China with his father on Air Force Two. He was a family and taxpayer guest, but did a business deal there with a Chinese tycoon. Since then, other “scandals” have surfaced. The New York Post claimed that a laptop abandoned by Hunter at a repair shop allegedly contained damning material. He is also being investigated by tax authorities and was accused of buying a gun without disclosing his past drug usage. Salacious videos have surfaced, drunken incidents, paternity tangles, messy divorces, and the sale of Hunter’s paintings to unknown persons for sizeable sums of money. These and other mishaps led The Wall Street Journal’s esteemed columnist Holman Jenkins to accuse Hunter of purposely sabotaging his father with his reckless actions: “Nobody of Hunter’s generation behaves the way he did—making and preserving a video record of his illegal drug use and prostitutes, then carelessly discarding devices on which it [the video] is accessible—unless some part of him wanted to humiliate and embarrass his father.”
The President said he knows nothing about his son’s business affairs nor did he benefit in any way. All of which means there’s smoke but no fire, and the probes will proceed to determine whether there is evidence of collusion, conspiracy, or wrongdoing. For some Republicans, this is payback for the investigations and impeachments they believe their former President was unnecessarily forced to endure at the hands of Democrats. This is why the examination of Hunter’s dysfunctional life is “going to be dirty”, said The Guardian.
But overreach may result in public backlash, suggested David Brock, a veteran political operative and president of Facts First USA. “What we’re going to see in the hearings is recycling and a rehash of old discredited stories and conspiracy theories. [Congressman] Jim Jordan is on the record saying that the investigations are all about 2024 and electing Donald Trump again. That’s his own words, not mine…Going after someone who has an addiction and has had mental health issues is sadistic politics and I don’t think it will work with the American people.”
But the facts are that nasty Congressional investigations and witch hunts are nothing new in American politics. Few serve the public interest in the end, but they certainly make great political theater.