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Hunting Joe Through Hunter
What have the Republicans got, and what are they reaching for?
The Republicans, who have demanded and attained an official impeachment inquiry into the activities of Joe Biden, have a small point. The following statement is not good, and not wrong:
While Joe Biden was in charge of rooting out Ukrainian corruption as Vice President, his son Hunter was working for a corrupt Ukrainian company.
That alone isn’t a crime, isn’t cause for impeachment, and might not even be unethical, depending on how much of Hunter’s dealings Joe was apprised of. But it does tread upon the murkily defined territory known as “the appearance of conflict of interest.”
I’m not a huge fan or believer in “appearance of conflict of interest” as a standard in determining wrong-doing because it is inherently subjective, demanding the question, “appearance to who?” Representatives James Comer, Jim Jordan and the members of the House Republican caucus clamoring for an impeachment inquiry have impeachment cataracts when it comes to Democratic presidents and I don’t much credit what they say appears to be a conflict to them. But in this case a fair-minded observer (me) has to conclude that there there might be some there there. After all:
While Joe Biden was in charge of rooting out Ukrainian corruption as Vice President his son Hunter was working for a corrupt Ukrainian company.
Perhaps you’ve heard that somewhere before.
The Republican’s Point
It’s disingenuous to assert that Repubclians have zero point when it comes to Joe Biden’s appearance of conflict of interest. They have a valid point, but a narrow one, floating along like a lonely beacon on a sea of speculation. The supposed misdeeds of Joe Biden fall into four different buckets. They are:
The Probable: As Vice President, Joe Biden was less than assiduous than he needed to be when it came to the intersection of his son’s business dealings and his own duties as an elected official.
The Plausible: Even if Joe Biden can not be proved to have known he was aiding his son’s business activities, but it can be proved that he reasonably should have known. A careful official, exercising good judgement, would have refrained from personal calls, interactions, and acts that could have helped Hunter. He therefore showed poor judgement if his goal was the absolute cleavage of his official responsibilities from Hunter’s financial interests.
The Possible : Beyond the reasonable inference referred to above, if Joe Biden were to be shown to have more detailed knowledge of Hunter’s business and to have acted in ways he demonstrably knew would help Hunter it would be a blow. But as other presidential prosecutions have shown, establishing a defendant’s Mens Rea isn’t easy.
The Implausible: Joe Biden shaped and crafted US policy in order to help his son Hunter, in ways he wouldn’t have if acting solely in the national interest.
The Preposterous: Joe Biden sold out the United State’s interest in order to help Hunter.
Proving the Implausible
If either the implausible or the preposterous are proved Joe Biden should be impeached and convicted. This is consistent with my thoughts about the misdeeds of Donald Trump. If the only facts established is in the realm of “the possible” impeachment is in a gray area to me. It would contradict then-candidate Biden’s many public statements, which the Republicans inaccurately assert is already the case. But even this might not rise to a high crime and misdemeanor. This would certainly be in the “let the voters decide” category, and Biden would be right to be punished for it.
What of the Preposterous?
If, in the name of fairness, I credit the Hunter-hunters when they have a point and concede the possibility that they may yet prove others, I also have to call out their argument that are the stuff of fiction. Take the preposterous idea that the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin, was viewed as something other than a corrupt force by anyone paying attention. In my next post I’ll lay out the reams of evidence that contradict this assertion.
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