As House Republicans kicked off their impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden’s alleged involvement with his son’s international business schemes – as one lawmaker described them – both sides of the aisle revealed their strategies going forward. For Republicans, it comes down to following the money trail and establishing that, as vice president, the senior Biden was indeed actively involved in Hunter Biden’s efforts to sell access to the White House. Democrats, meanwhile, are in full defensive mode. But during this first hearing on September 28, it quickly became clear that the Democrat members of the House Committees involved in the investigations have decided to redefine the language and intent of impeachment inquiries differently from how they conducted the two impeachments of former President Donald Trump.
As Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) explained, GOP investigators have not yet written articles of impeachment. They have yet to say whether they intend to impeach Joe Biden, in fact. They launched an inquiry, the very purpose of which is to decide whether impeachment is warranted.
By contrast, House Democrats twice set two impeachment inquiries in motion that were designed to justify why they fully intended to impeach Donald Trump. The outcomes of those investigations were never in doubt.
Speaking of Trump, Democrats at the September 28 hearing tried to turn the whole affair into yet another trial of the 45th president. As one Democrat lawmaker questioned Michael Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor brought in to counter the Republicans’ witnesses, Jared Kushner’s name conveniently came up. Joe Biden’s defenders have frequently tried to draw comparisons between Kushner’s business deals and Hunter Biden’s – though one can fairly point out, for multiple reasons, that it’s a comparison of apples to oranges.
Proof of Guilt Required for an Impeachment Inquiry?
Democrats’ main contention, though, is that the Republicans have no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden. By the time the hearing wrapped up, the left-wing media was shouting from the rooftops that even the GOP’s three witnesses said there was no evidence.
This representation of what transpired during the hearing is not accurate. The witnesses concurred that, thus far, they had seen no evidence of an impeachable offense – or a criminal one – having been committed by Joe Biden. They did all agree, however, that what the Republicans had gathered so far was disturbing on many levels – particularly from a forensic accounting perspective – and that further investigation and gathering of evidence was warranted.
Several media accounts of the hearing edited the witnesses’ words on the subject of evidence. Even those that provided the full context of witness statements used headlines that deceptively suggested the witnesses said there was no evidence against Joe Biden. What they really said is that Republicans have not yet presented proof of guilt – but that what has been revealed so far calls for further investigation.
A Yahoo News article quoted law professor Jonathan Turley as saying, “I do not believe that the evidence currently meets the standard of a high crime and misdemeanor needed for an article of impeachment.” In his opening statement, however, Turley made the case for an inquiry. “I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment. That is something an inquiry has to establish.” The professor went on: “But I also do believe that the House has passed the threshold for an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Biden.” He then laid out three “inescapable facts” that led him to the conclusion that the inquiry was necessary.
“I am not here to even suggest that there was corruption, fraud or even any wrongdoing,” said another witness, forensic accountant Bruce Dubinsky. This quote was used in the same Yahoo News article. But the article didn’t quote him when he added that “more information needs to be gathered and assessed before I would make such an assessment.”
In fact, all three of the Republicans’ witnesses agreed that the evidence gathered so far absolutely justified an impeachment inquiry and further investigation.
Democrats went into the two Trump impeachments knowing full well that they were going to impeach him. In their minds – or, at least, this is what they wanted the American people to believe – they already had not just evidence, but proof that Trump had committed impeachable offences. They are taking the same approach this time. Their argument is that an inquiry is a waste of time and should not be conducted unless the investigators already have proof of treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors – the standard for impeaching a sitting president.
Across the aisle, Republicans say they have already gathered enough evidence of potential wrongdoing to warrant an inquiry. What objective observer could possibly dispute this claim? GOP investigators have obtained thousands of pages of documentation – in addition to witness testimony – that support the need for an inquiry.
Trump was always considered guilty until proven innocent, in Democrat eyes. Joe Biden, however, is innocent until proven guilty – which is certainly fair – but their argument seems to be that, in Biden’s case, there should be no effort to establish whether he is, indeed, innocent – or not.