House Republicans remain in a frenzy of insinuations, half-truths, and outright lies about President Joe Biden’s connection to his son Hunter’s business dealings, and Fox News is, as always, there on the spot to promote the claims. This is all part of the Republicans’ push to impeach the president even though they have turned up no evidence that he has engaged in wrongdoing. Impeachment has been the plan all along, and the strategic distraction is doubly urgent now that Donald Trump is facing so many federal criminal charges.
Let’s take a look at how Fox News uses smoke and mirrors to make it sound like the Bidens’ accusers have far more evidence than they do. Here’s the latest bombshell report from the “news” network. (Unless otherwise indicated, the quotes come from various Fox News personalities.)
“A new set of bank records linked to the Bidens ...” Linked? How are they linked? To the Bidens? Which Bidens?
“Those who contributed to Hunter’s ventures were then seemingly rewarded with access to his father.” Seemingly? The Fox News chyron here reads, “GOP says it has proof of $20M sent to Bidens,” but then we get “seemingly.” Hmm.
“All that flies in the face, Dana, of what the president and his staff have been saying on repeat.” No it doesn’t, unless you have more than “linked to” Bidens other than Joe and “seemingly.” So far, more than 45 seconds into the clip, we have absolutely no solid information, just insinuation.
“The question is, what was Hunter Biden doing to earn access to this money.” Asked and answered, guys: He had the last name Biden and the ability to create what his business partner Devon Archer testified to the House was the “illusion” of access, putting his father on speaker phone when he was with business associates but not talking about business. It’s not laudatory or inspirational, but it is what it is, and it is not Joe Biden being involved in corruption in any way.
“Republicans on the House Oversight Committee say the new records detail a pay-to-play scheme, proof of $20 million sent to the Bidens from foreign business sources.” Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have said a lot of things, many of them verifiably false. They are claiming here to have evidence of the pay, but what’s the play that’s being paid for? And again, “the Bidens” is not the president—if they thought they had him here, they’d be saying it.
“The committee says Russian, Ukrainian, and Kazakh oligarchs funneled money to companies tied to Hunter Biden. A Russian billionaire sent $3.5 million to a shell company associated with Hunter Biden business partner Devon Archer.” Whoa, whoa, whoa, we’ve gone from $20 million to the Bidens to money going to companies “tied to” Hunter Biden in the sense that they are “associated with” Devon Archer? That’s a flimsy connection to Hunter, let alone his father.
“Then-Vice President Biden dined with the billionaire in Washington.” According to Archer’s testimony, Joe Biden attended two dinners, one in 2014 and one in 2015, that included some of Hunter’s business associates. “I believe the first one was, like, a birthday dinner, and then the second was ‑‑ I think we were supposed to talk about the World Food Programme,” Archer said. So over the course of more than a year, Joe Biden went to a birthday dinner for his son and another dinner to talk about the World Food Programme, and did not control the guest list at either dinner. Got it.
“Another example has Ukrainian money going to Archer and Hunter Biden. Later, Burisma put Hunter Biden on the board.” 1.) Does money that went to Archer count in the previously mentioned $20 million to “the Bidens?” 2.) I think it’s well established that Hunter Biden was on the board of energy company Burisma. We all know that because of Trump’s efforts to extort Ukraine into a sham investigation of Joe Biden and because of Trump’s resulting impeachment.
Next we see House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer alleging that, “The process involved a foreign country or foreign national wiring money to a fake company. Then the fake company would then turn around and wire the money to the Biden family members. They did this to hide the source of the revenue because they weren’t supposed to get money from many of these countries.”
“Republicans are trying to draw a line from these payments to the president,” the Fox News guy chimed in. Republicans have been investigating this for the better part of a year and they are still trying to draw a line, any line, to the president.
Now to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy: “This isn’t about Hunter Biden. This is about paying to play for the Biden family. Because the money goes to nine different members, through shell companies, much like the informant said.” So, again, not Joe? It’s not about Hunter Biden, McCarthy says, but he apparently doesn’t feel he can make any direct allegations about Joe Biden.
Back to the Fox News talking head: “The committee says a Kazakh oligarch transferred $142,000 to Hunter Biden for a sports car. Democrats contend there’s no wrongdoing by the president.” Look, I think we can agree that Hunter Biden’s business dealings have sucked. But once again Fox News used a denial of wrongdoing by the president to substitute for any direct allegation that the president engaged in wrongdoing. “The son did this not-great thing. The father denied wrongdoing on his own part.” How are those things linked, except by a desperate desire to mention the father while lacking any concrete allegation to make against him?
“Some Republicans talk impeachment. The GOP says this is just not pay to play but pay to dine, and drive.” Again, what’s the “play” part here? Right now, Republicans have a lot of evidence that Hunter Biden got paid—although even there, they seem to be trying to pin money on Hunter that really went to Devon Archer. They don’t have any evidence that anyone got anything in exchange for their money. They got to hear Joe Biden’s voice on a speaker phone not talking about business, or see him at his son’s birthday dinner. Republicans have claimed that Hunter got Joe to push for the ouster of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin because he was investigating Burisma—but the reality is that Shokin was not actively investigating Burisma at the time he was forced out, and Joe Biden was one of a chorus of world leaders involved in a concerted effort to get rid of a corrupt prosecutor. So the closest thing to a concrete claim of Joe Biden being on the “play” end of a “pay to play” scheme with his son turns out to be false on multiple grounds.
If Republicans had anything on Joe Biden, we’d know about it. They don’t. And, as Marcy Wheeler points out, all of this screaming about $20 million to Hunter and his business associates is happening when we know that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner parlayed his time as a White House adviser into $2 billion from Saudi Arabia. Jared had an official White House role. Hunter never has. Jared delivered for Saudi Arabia from his White House perch. Hunter has never been in a position to do that for his benefactors and there’s no evidence his father did it for him. Jared got $2 billion. Hunter got some unknown slice of $20 million.
Republicans were desperate to impeach President Biden before they ever took control of the House, but their desperation has increased as Trump’s legal jeopardy has become more apparent. They’re looking to impeach Biden in part so they can claim that Trump’s prosecution on dozens of federal criminal charges is some kind of flimsy distraction. In reality, of course, they are the ones trying to cook up a distraction.