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Did Bobulinski’s Testimony Advance the Biden Impeachment Ball?

Soundbites, stupidity, and scandals rocked the latest hearing.

A former associate of Hunter Biden, Tony Bobulinski, appeared before the House Oversight Committee on March 20 to discuss the Biden family business dealings. One might be forgiven for suspecting that his testimony took place in two different dimensions based on the coverage by the Fourth Estate: Each side presented their outrageous good fortunes while downplaying the slings and arrows. So, what really happened during the session? Did it advance the impeachment ball, or was the quarterback sacked in his own end zone?

Where’s the Work?

The hearing, titled “Influence Peddling: Examining Joe Biden’s Abuse of Public Office,” presented testimony relating to the actions of Hunter and Jim Biden (the son and the brother of President Joe Biden) and how they conducted their business affairs. At the outset, Chairmen James Comer (R-KY) laid out his focus, saying the investigation had failed to find any evidence “of the Bidens providing work product,” and that the committee had:

“identified no legitimate value or document or even one single hour of work that the Bidens have provided their business partners.

“What is apparent, after over a year of investigation, is that the Bidens do not work in any traditional sense of the word. They do not work as consultants. Or lawyers. Or advisors. The Bidens don’t sell a product or a service or a set of skills. The Bidens sell Joe Biden.”

Despite the testimony that followed, it appeared each side had its own interpretation of events and that, whatever was said, no needle was going to be moved.

The Impeachment Numbers Problem

With a razor-thin majority in the House, committee Republicans need to convince almost their entire membership if they want to advance the proceedings. Comer has openly hinted that, either in addition to or instead of impeachment, he may try for criminal referrals. However, that raises some issues. First, without an actual impeachment, it will be hard to sell them to the public. Second, as Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) said, “the [Justice Department] is never going to take that up anyway.”

Ranking committee member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said the hearing was “the end of perhaps the most spectacular failure in the history of congressional investigations.”

“Our colleagues now are apparently preparing to save face by ending the impeachment farce with criminal referrals,” he said in his opening statement. “But criminal referrals require evidence of crimes. And the only crimes we have seen are those of the GOP’s own star witnesses.”

Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) poured scorn on the affair and practically dared Comer to go for a vote. “When can we tell the American people you’re going to stop wasting your money and just call for the vote on impeachment?” Moskowitz asked. To which Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) replied, “We don’t do snap impeachments like you guys.”

Someone Is Lying

Bobulinski was questioned by Jordan on whether he believed Hunter Biden knew who “the Big Guy” was in Hunter’s own communications. During the younger Biden’s testimony at the end of February, he claimed to have no idea. Bobulinski responded that he was positive Hunter knew to whom the messages referred. He said he was:

“One thousand percent [sure], and there’s other text messages that back that up that the brave whistleblowers [Gary] Shapley and [Joe] Ziegler have produced – not from my phones, not from my BlackBerry that I took screenshots from. They took them from subpoenas directly from Apple’s iCloud that back up the fact that Hunter knew the big [guy] was Joe Biden.”

The combative Bobulinski also took aim at the Democrat members of the committee, saying: “We keep hearing from certain corners that our democracy is at risk, and democracy is on the ballot in ’24. Yet the same people preaching this mantra know better. They continue to lie directly to the American people without hesitation and remorse.” He continued by calling them out by name:

“Rep. Dan Goldman and Jamie Raskin, both lawyers, and Mr. Goldman, a former prosecutor with the SDNY from New York, will continue to lie today in this hearing and then go straight to the media to tell more lies.”

Elements of Farce

One of the more contentious exchanges was between Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Mr. Bobulinski. The Bronx lawmaker demanded that Bobulinski enumerate what crimes he believed the president had committed, to which he responded: “Corruption statutes, RICO and conspiracy, FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act]…”

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, however, did not seem to accept his answer and insisted that “RICO is not a crime.”

According to the United States Department of Justice website, “The RICO statute expressly states that it is unlawful for any person to conspire to violate any of the subsections of 18 U.S.C.A. § 1962.” Notably, former President Donald Trump is currently facing RICO charges in Georgia and would no doubt be pleased to learn that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez believes he has, therefore, not committed an actual crime.

A Matter of Perspective

Much like the two Trump impeachments, merit is in the eye of the beholder. Both sides went into the hearing ready to stick by their positions regardless of what was actually said, and their respective supporters in the media were all too ready to back those plays. To assume that this was a fact-finding exercise would be a mistake.

From the GOP side, this was an effort to convince wavering members that an impeachment – once underway – could be justified to the public. For Democrats, it was about providing soundbites that their friends in the Fourth Estate could cut and paste into the grander narrative. Ultimately, the public has already decided whether the Biden family is guilty of selling influence or not; the only question for lawmakers is how much political capital will be burned or earned by putting the matter to a vote.

Read More From Mark Angelides

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