Those allegations were not very robust, centered on Biden’s being guilty by tangential association with his son Hunter’s business efforts. There was mention of convoluted questions about the investigation into Hunter Biden being conducted by the Justice Department and of Biden’s having misrepresented what his son was doing. But this was just the start of the thing, right? Jumping off points.
Over the intervening two months, there has been little to no jumping.
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There was one hearing, held about two weeks after the announcement. It was a debacle, offering no new evidence but, instead, lots of opportunity for critical Democrats to poke holes in the Republicans’ arguments. Those arguments had been quietly growing in the conducive, unthreatening confines of conservative media; exposed to the Capitol Hill klieg lights, they withered. The Republican leaders of the impeachment effort retreated to Fox News to undo the damage. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), the face of the probe, quietly told reporters that he figured they were done with similar hearings.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has interviewed some people involved in the Hunter Biden probe, including the special counsel currently reviewing the matter. Those hearings have provided no smoking guns and, in fact, have more than once undercut claims made by House Republicans.
On Wednesday, though, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) — victor in the tumultuous aftermath of McCarthy’s ouster — released a statement offering his support for the impeachment probe.
“At this stage, our impeachment inquiry has already shown the corrupt conduct of the President’s family, and that he and White House officials have repeatedly lied about his knowledge and involvement in his family’s business activities,” the statement read. “It has also exposed the tens of millions of dollars from foreign adversaries being paid to shell companies controlled by the president’s son, brother, and their business associates.”
“Now, the appropriate step is to place key witnesses under oath and question them under the penalty of perjury, to fill gaps in the record,” it continued.
It is very important to point out, first, that the presentation offered by Johnson here is incorrect and misleading. In August, The Washington Post debunked the claims about the shell companies, for example, as well as adding context to the funds that went to Hunter Biden and his uncle, James. Even the use of “foreign adversaries” implies that the funding received by the non-president Bidens was simply flowing directly from foreign governments.
The reason we debunked this in August, by the way, before the impeachment inquiry was announced in September, is that all of these allegations predate the “inquiry.” This was what McCarthy had in hand two months ago! Johnson’s pointing to the jumping-off points for the probe and using them as jumping-off points!
There have been subpoenas issued for more financial records, which Comer in particular clearly hopes will kick up something useful. Useful, in Comer’s view, is a very broad category; in recent weeks, he’s raised quite a cacophony about Joe Biden’s having been repaid money he lent his brother James, as though this somehow was part of a scheme to benefit the current president.
That revelation, by the way, came as a result of subpoenas issued after the first impeachment hearing. This idea that there’s proof of wrongdoing out there just simply needs to be discovered has been part of the GOP push for a while now. McCarthy raised it as a theory back in August and Johnson did so in the statement above. But it is also possible, of course, that no such evidence exists, that there is no carrot on the end of the stick. If you are trying to get airtime in conservative media, though, it’s better to simply say that you’re still pushing toward the evidence — maybe even elevating nonsense about loan repayments en route — to keep people engaged. After all, if you never find any evidence, you still have an argument: the Bidens are just that good at hiding it.
Jordan appeared on Newsmax on Tuesday night, where he was interviewed by Greg Kelly. In that discussion, Jordan figured that a decision would be made on impeachment relatively soon.
“We have a number of interviews and depositions we have to do this month and next month and then I think in early next year, January next year, we make a decision based on the facts in evidence,” Jordan said: “do we actually have articles of impeachment that should be filed and do we move forward with impeachment?”
The House is in session 12 more days this year, in case you were wondering.
“But it will be driven,” Jordan continued, “unlike the Democrats four years ago, this will be driven by the facts and evidence.”
I’ve walked through the timeline here before. The first impeachment of Donald Trump was also announced in September and, over the course of October 2019, saw the deposition of a number of people involved in Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to benefit his 2020 campaign. The process then moved to hearings held over two weeks in November and a report recommending impeachment — based on a surfeit of facts and evidence — was produced in December.
Newsmax’s Kelly rationalized the timeline for his eager conservative audience: “And when you’re driven by the facts and the evidence, it takes longer, correct?”
“It does,” Jordan conceded.
It also takes longer to make progress when you’re not moving forward at all.
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