Yesterday, the Republican-led House arranged a three committee jamboree to hear the testimony of two IRS “whistleblowers” who were there to provide damning evidence against President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. But despite the best efforts of the Republicans on the committee, which began with Jim Jordan screaming about the horrors to be revealed before the witnesses had even been introduced, all they proved was exactly what they’ve demonstrated so many times in the past: Republicans have no evidence. And even less morality.
The two IRS employees, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, did reveal that they had disagreements with Donald Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss over how the case should be investigated and prosecuted. And that … is it. Weiss was in charge of the case. Shapley and Ziegler thought Weiss didn’t give their suggestions on the case enough weight. The “evidence” begins and ends with two disgruntled employees. Anyone expecting a revelation, or a hint of actual criminal behavior, had to be sorely disappointed.
The only evidence worth considering was when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene treated the entire nation to a disgusting example of revenge porn, because that might have been an actual crime.
In June, Weiss announced charges against Hunter Biden involving late payment of taxes and owning a firearm while using drugs. Sentencing on these charges has yet to take place. There is a potential for 12 to 18 months of jail time, but Hunter Biden has pleaded guilty and the Department of Justice is expected to recommend a fine and probation.
Republicans, who had already singled out Hunter Biden as this cycle’s target of endless investigations, immediately declared their outrage. Since they’ve already hacked Hunter Biden’s data and have plenty of videos and photos showing him in questionable circumstances, they just can’t let that go to waste, so they gathered three committees together and dragged out all the cameras for this damp squib of an event.
But Greene at least made the day notable.
The MAGA representative put her fixations on full display on Wednesday when she held up nude photos of Hunter Biden and waved them in front of cameras in blatant violation of Washington, D.C., laws against revenge porn. What Greene did fits fully within the definition of first-degree unlawful publication, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
Since she was speaking in Congress, it’s likely that Greene is protected by the speech and debate clause, because providing protection while showing stolen dick pics of a presidential family member is surely what the Founding Fathers intended.
However, Greene apparently emailed these photos to her supporters, an action that seems a lot more difficult to protect. In rulings connected to the Pentagon papers, the Supreme Court ruled that protections granted to representatives reading from those papers in the legislature did not extend even to publications of transcripts.
Turning stolen nude photos into a fundraising vehicle seems like more than just revenge porn. It seems like … selling porn. Also, since Greene has no age check on her mailing list, it’s certain that she not only violated D.C.’s laws against revenge porn, but federal laws against the distribution of pornographic material to minors.
So in a way the Republican joint committee hearing didn’t just find evidence of a crime. It showcased several crimes happening in real time—a public service that will only be of value if it’s followed by Greene’s arrest.
When it comes to the actual supposed subject of the hearing, what we know now is what we knew going in.
Shapley and Weiss didn’t get along. Shapley blames Weiss for Shapley’s failure to secure a promotion because he claims, also without any evidence, that Weiss gave him a bad review. Nothing that Shapley has said—absolutely nothing—provides objective evidence that Hunter Biden was given any sort of special treatment, or that Weiss was in any way kept from pursuing all possible charges. Weiss was not only appointed to his post by Trump, he was given the task of investigating Hunter Biden by William Barr, another Trump appointee, and spent two years on that investigation before Biden took office.
If there is anything that should be subject to investigation, it might be why Barr ordered Weiss to begin this investigation in the first place. It certainly seems like a whole U.S. attorney’s office and a large number of resources from other agencies were turned into an instrument solely to go after a member of then-candidate Joe Biden’s family. Hunter Biden has been the subject of this investigation for an astonishing five years.
The one big “gotcha” that Shapley has pointed out in the past, a WhatsApp message reportedly from a Chinese businessman, is simply a fake, which is a pretty good reason for Weiss to not spend a huge amount of time and resources going down this blind alley.
Zeigler, who until now has been called “whistleblower x,” turns out to be an assistant to Shapley. Whether he was bullied into signing on or is just loyal to his boss isn’t clear. Either way, he had nothing to add other than vague assertions that unnamed “Justice Department officials” downplayed what the IRS agents thought were improper deductions on Hunter Biden’s taxes. Because god knows if they had just pursued how Hunter Biden incorrectly reported his children’s tuition, Americans would have been outraged.
At the end of the day, the Republican evidence against Hunter Biden consists of:
Seventeen audio tapes that don’t exist
One WhatsApp message that’s a fake
One “informant” who has been dead for over a decade
One “informant” who is on the run from international authorities after skipping bail
One disagreement by a disgruntled IRS employee who thought he deserved a promotion
That’s it. That’s the whole thing. However, this won’t stop Republicans from holding a dozen, or two dozen, or 300 more hearings just so that Rep. James Comer can say “Biden crime family” at the top of every statement and Greene can search up more revenge porn. They might as well also talk about Benghazi while they’re at it. Artificial intelligence can probably help Greene if she wants to whip up some Hillary porn—all protected by the speech and debate clause, of course.
What we learned from Wednesday's hearings didn’t give us anything new about President Joe Biden, but it certainly showed us something about Republicans. And that something was a lot more disgusting than the pictures held up by Greene.