By: William McGurn – wsj.com – September 11, 2023
September in Washington, and the Hunter Biden scandal is in the air. The only question now is what happens first: an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden’s role in his son’s influence-peddling—or a Hunter Biden indictment from a grand jury impaneled by special counsel David Weiss.
Normally, Republicans might defer to law enforcement. But a politicized Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation have squandered the public’s trust. The elevation of Mr. Weiss to special counsel has persuaded many that the fix is in, given Justice guidelines that say a special counsel should come from the outside. Mr. Weiss’s appointment further gives President Biden the “ongoing investigation” excuse for not answering questions, which could bury the issue.
But the ultimate question surrounding Hunter’s overseas millions from places such as China and Ukraine—and whether his father was the quo for the quid his son received—is political. More important than seeing anyone packed off to prison is learning whether Joe Biden, as vice president, willfully enabled his son’s schemes and twisted U.S. policy in the process.
It may turn out that Joe Biden committed no crime. But even if he never received a nickel from his son’s businesses, his cooperation in Hunter’s selling of the Biden brand was corrupt. Ditto for President Biden’s Justice Department, which repeatedly sabotaged the federal investigation into Hunter.
The party line is that there’s no evidence that Joe Biden profited from his son’s dealings. But the administration has stonewalled any effort to get at the truth, and the White House is now building a war room of lawyers and communications staffers to fight the investigations. It’s disingenuous to argue there’s no evidence while you are working overtime to thwart any attempt to find evidence.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says impeachments should be rare, because normalizing impeachment isn’t good for the country. He’s right. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is calling for an impeachment inquiry, which he says is a “natural step forward” based on evidence that has been uncovered by the House committees investigating—Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means.
This includes learning that Joe Biden lied during the 2020 debates when he categorically denied Hunter was paid millions from China and said the laptop was Russian disinformation. And that the then-vice president had dinners with his son’s business partners, and spoke to them on speakerphone when Hunter called. And that, as two Internal Revenue Service agents have testified, the Justice Department sandbagged an IRS investigation. And that a Biden staffer emailed Hunter business associate Eric Schwerin confirming that the vice president had signed off on talking points Mr. Schwerin had supplied about Burisma.
All this from a man who claims he knew nothing about his son’s business?
With three House committees already investigating, an impeachment inquiry might appear superfluous. But there are practical advantages. To name one, it would enhance the power of House subpoenas. Congressional oversight must be tethered to a legislative purpose, and that includes the subpoenas for information such as the tax and bank records House investigators are asking for.
By contrast, when a subpoena is part of an impeachment inquiry, Congress is acting at the apex of its power in its ability to compel witness testimony and demand documents. An impeachment inquiry doesn’t require a legislative purpose, which gives its subpoenas more force in the courts. It also gives the House more negotiating leverage with, say, Justice and the IRS.
If done judiciously, an impeachment inquiry would be a road back from the way Nancy Pelosi stacked every procedural deck and cut every congressional corner to get Mr. Trump. Mrs. Pelosi announced the first Trump impeachment inquiry all by herself, holding a vote after it was already under way, and then proceeded with closed-door testimony and limits on defense witnesses. In the second impeachment, she rushed a vote on impeachment without hearings or an opportunity for the president to present a defense.
Speaker McCarthy has signaled that things will be different this time around. For one thing, the House will begin with a formal inquiry. An actual impeachment will then depend on persuading the full House that the evidence supports it. Given Mr. McCarthy’s slim majority, that might be a hard sell to nervous GOP moderates—especially those in districts Mr. Biden carried in 2020.
For another, Mr. McCarthy has declared the inquiry won’t be launched without a vote of the full House. The risk is that he won’t get the votes—which would carry its own political costs for him. Probably many members on each side secretly prefer that Mr. McCarthy just declare an impeachment inquiry as Mrs. Pelosi did and spare them the choice. But forcing members to weigh the evidence and the risks, and then go on the record, is vital for accountability.
Fifty years ago at press conference in Orlando, Fla., Richard Nixon told a television audience the American people have to know whether or not their president is a crook. In Mr. Biden’s case, they also deserve to know whether the Justice Department has been compromised. By month’s end, Republicans will decide whether an impeachment inquiry is the only way they’ll get these answers.
To see this article in its entirety and to subscribe to others like it, please choose to read more.
Source: Impeaching Joe Biden – WSJ