Republican lawmakers have a lot of work to do to get to the bottom of the foreign dealings of the Biden family and how exactly they related to President Joe Biden, according to several witnesses the lawmakers invited to the hearing exploring the basis for their impeachment inquiry into the president.
“You’re sort of at the water’s edge here,” commented Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and expert on the Constitution and impeachment, during the Sept. 28 hearing.
The lawmakers have said that they have so far uncovered about 20 shell companies through with some $20 million was funneled to various Biden family members from foreign sources, often linked to governments antagonistic toward the United States and often coinciding with times when Joe Biden had direct influence on policy decisions related to those regions when he served as the vice president in the Obama administration.
Launching an impeachment inquiry earlier this month helped the investigators expand their subpoena powers in order to obtain information that they previously lacked a mandate to demand or that was kept from them.
Democrats have criticized the inquiry as baseless, pointing to a lack of direct evidence that Joe Biden substantially discussed foreign business dealings with his family members, particularly his son Hunter Biden. They also stress that there’s no direct evidence that Joe Biden obtained any of the money from questionable foreign sources.
However, Mr. Turley explained that to establish bribery—one of the offenses directly mentioned in the Constitution’s Impeachment Clause—the official doesn’t need to obtain the illicit benefits.
“The courts actually have rejected that. They’ve said that money going to family members is in fact a benefit,” he said during the hearing.
The Constitution talks about “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but what conduct is actually impeachable remains debated, he noted.
“Bribery, obstruction, conspiracy, abuse of power—those have all been raised in past impeachments.”
Abuse of power doesn’t necessarily need to be criminal to be impeachable, he said, though he recommended focusing first on what could constitute crimes.
He acknowledged that currently the evidence isn’t strong enough for impeachment, but it is enough to launch an inquiry.
And there’s a lot to inquire into, he suggested.
“Everything that has gone on so far, from what I can see, has been tracking money from banks, often transnational transactions, that have arrived at the United States. What we haven’t seen is the backend of those transfers, to what extent can you track that money with regard to the Bidens themselves. And that, I suppose, will come out through an inquiry. But until you have those interstitial relationships you don’t quite know what you have.”
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who chairs the House Oversight committee, headed the hearing, and co-leads the inquiry, announced after the hearing that he will subpoena the bank records of Hunter Biden and James Biden, President Biden’s brother, and their affiliated companies.
The other leaders of the inquiry are Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), head of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), head of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Another line of inquiry aims at the Biden administration's alleged interference with investigations of Hunter Biden, especially as the investigations progressed to a point where they could have implicated the president.
“During the course of the investigation, leads and procedures that would have been followed in any other case were thwarted,” said another witness, Eileen O’Connor, former assistant attorney general and head of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Tax Division in the 2000s during the Bush administration.
The FBI in 2019 obtained a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, but investigators were prevented from examining the trove of information it contained. Instead, the FBI insinuated to staff at social media companies that the laptop was Russian disinformation, which led to news coverage of the contents being censored by the platforms ahead of the 2020 election.
Hunter Biden’s attorneys were given advanced notice about a search warrant that was about to be executed.
“Authorization to interview essential witnesses was denied, rendering off limits family members and business associates,” Ms. O’Connor said.
After obtaining a message in which Hunter Biden claimed his father was sitting next to him during a call with a Chinese businessman, “agents were not permitted to take the steps they asked to and could have to determine whether Hunter’s father was in fact sitting right next to him at that time,” she said.
“It is not far-fetched to suppose that the lines of investigation that were thwarted were ones that would have led the investigators to uncover the complicity of Joe Biden in his son’s activities.”
Republicans have long complained that the Biden administration has denied them access to information they need to examine whether officials interfered with the probes to protect President Biden.
So far, however, the lawmakers haven’t used punitive methods to pursue the evidence, noted Kash Patel, former national security prosecutor, congressional investigator, and chief of staff to the acting defense secretary under President Donald Trump.
“If they're going down this route, I hope they use that subpoena power extensively, to subpoena Garland and Wray, and the documents that have till today been withheld by Garland and Wray, in violation of prior congressional subpoenas,” he told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.
“And if Congress isn't willing to act to enforce them, it doesn't matter who you impeach.”
Republicans also focused on President Biden’s shifting story on his knowledge of his son's foreign dealings. Over the past few years, as more evidence has surfaced, the president went from saying that he had no knowledge of his son’s foreign business to now having his spokeswoman claim that he wasn’t “in business” with his son. President Biden’s 2020 campaign statement that his family did not take any money from China was also false, Mr. Turley said.
The fact that others in the administration have made similar statements raises the possibility that the president enlisted his subordinates to lie for him, which could play into an abuse of power impeachment charge, according to the professor.
He implored the lawmakers to pursue the inquiry “fairly and thoroughly.”
“Regardless of the outcome of this inquiry, I am hopeful that the House can restore important procedural and due process protections to these inquiries,” he said in prepared remarks.
“It will demand something that is never easy for a majority, namely, voluntarily accepting limits on their own ability to impeach.”