Republicans’ Hunter Biden Witch Hunt Is an Epic Fail

Republicans’ Hunter Biden Witch Hunt Is an Epic Fail

The months of fruitless effort by the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee and House Judiciary Committee to unearth evidence supporting an impeachment of President Joe Biden culminated on Wednesday in their long sought-after deposition of the president’s only surviving son, Hunter Biden.

It didn’t go well for them. The phrase “epic fail” comes to mind.

There was no reason for the GOP to be surprised that the deposition yielded no evidence of any wrongdoing by President Biden—much less any smoking guns.

That should have been obvious the night before, when the Oversight Committee neatly packaged its complete lack of evidence justifying an impeachment into a handy social media post on X (formerly known as Twitter). Thanks to a boost from Elon Musk promoting it, the 19 posts got a good amount of views and likes—which only highlighted the lack of substance.

As set forth by Philip Bump in The Washington Post, the thread cherry-picks the best of the GOP’s theories—all of which have been debunked. These include the claim that money wired from the GOP’s go-to bogeymen—“Chinese nationals” (a phrase that has become a racist dog whistle)—to Joe Biden’s Delaware home evidences proof of corruption, when in fact the money was wired to Hunter Biden. The only connection to his father was the address of his father’s house, which is where Hunter Biden was living at the time.

Hunter Biden and his lawyer Abbe Lowell attend a House Oversight Committee meeting on Jan. 10, 2024.

Kent Nishimura / Getty

Two other bogus claims of “evidence” include money paid to Biden being that were clearly repayment of loans made to James Biden—the president’s brother. Both payments were checks that had “loan repayment” written on them—a fact that the social media thread failed to mention.

But even more telling was what the GOP committee left out of its greatest hits series, such as evidence provided by two now-discredited sources.

One of them, Gal Luft, was indicted for allegedly acting as an unregistered foreign agent, trafficking in arms, violating sanctions against Iran, and making false statements to the FBI. The other, Alexander Smirnov, was indicted for allegedly lying to the FBI by fabricating the entire bribery allegations about the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, the president, and his son. The committee also avoided referencing the numerous people who worked for and with Hunter Biden—who all denied that President Biden had any role in his son’s businesses.

A photo including Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden

Samuel Corum / Getty

It might also have been a red flag for the GOP-led committees that Hunter Biden hardly seemed afraid of being questioned and, in fact, showed up in-person to insist that any testimony be public and not behind closed doors.

The deposition occurred only after Biden attorney Abbe Lowell negotiated conditions that would make it hard for the GOP to selectively leak and spin—namely no video recording and only the release of full transcripts of the deposition, so the public could judge for itself what had occurred.

The committees ignored all of the above at their own peril in their laser-focus to be able to question the younger Biden under oath. That peril was fully realized as Hunter Biden began his testimony with a prepared statement in which he lambasted the evidence, effort, and motives of the GOP:

“For more than a year, your Committees have hunted me in your partisan political pursuit of my dad. You have trafficked in innuendo, distortion, and sensationalism—all the while ignoring the clear and convincing evidence staring you in the face. You do not have evidence to support the baseless and MAGA-motivated conspiracies about my father because there isn’t any.”

Unlike the self-serving GOP social media posts, Hunter Biden laundry-listed the witness credibility problems:

“You have built your entire partisan house of cards on lies told by the likes of Gal Luft, Tony Bobulinski, Alexander Smirnov, and Jason Galanis. Luft, who is a fugitive, has been indicted for his lies and other crimes; Smirnov, who has made you dupes in carrying out a Russian disinformation campaign waged against my father, has been indicted for his lies; Bobulinski, who has been exposed for the many false statements he has made, and Galanis, who is serving 14 years in prison for fraud. Rather than follow the facts as they have been laid out before you in bank records, financial statements, correspondence, and other witness testimony, you continue your frantic search to prove the lies you, and those you rely on, keep peddling. Yes, they are lies.”

A photo including Hunter Biden and his attorney Abbe Lowell

Hunter Biden listens as his attorney Abbe Lowell makes a statement following a closed-door deposition before the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability and the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 28, 2024.

Samuel Corum / Getty

While the transcripts have not yet been released, the rest of the hearing appears to have gone equally poorly for the GOP, based on statements from Democratic members of the committee who portrayed the results as evidence of the GOP’s utter failure, as well as Republican members’ statements that seemed like exercises in denial.

But the most striking aspect of the GOP-led committees’ epic fail is the fact that the centerpiece of the GOP theory—now-indicted FBI informant Joseph Smirnov’s information about an alleged bribery scheme—turns out to have been a likely fabrication. Recent reporting reminds us there were early signs that the “evidence” was untrustworthy, given the qualms of former intelligence experts as early as 2020.

But there’s more. Reporting in The Washington Post details how the use of Smirnov’s information got its start in an assignment given by then-Attorney General Bill Barr—motivated by Barr’s and then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s interest in seeking out Ukrainian corruption. That initial task given by Barr and Rosen ultimately resulted in the indictment of Smirnov for allegedly making up his information. (Smirnov was indicted by special counsel David Weiss, who was assigned to investigate and prosecute Hunter Biden.)

Think about it. After investigating Hunter Biden for a half-decade, Weiss has managed to only charge two people.

The first is Hunter Biden—who faces tax evasion and gun charges completely unrelated to President Biden. The second person charged is the very informant who was the source of the allegations against President Biden and his son. Starved for any real criminal substance, Weiss’ investigation has begun to cannibalize itself for sustenance.

But there is an obvious investigation that would be one of substance. That one would involve scrutinizing how former Attorney General Bill Barr and his deputy may have abused their power at the Justice Department by opening up a politically motivated investigation to smear Joe Biden, and how that effort was enabled by Republican members for nearly a decade.

Now that is an investigation worth doing, if only Attorney General Merrick Garland has the courage to open it.

The Daily Beast

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