Posted by Curt on 16 December, 2019 at 5:27 pm. 38 comments already!


After weeks of conducting hearings in private, the House impeachment ­inquiry is going public this week. But if the Democrats stage-managing this affair have their way, there will be one ­element of their presidential-misconduct allegations that won’t be part of the show: Hunter Biden.

Democrats believe that the vice-presidential son’s Ukraine shenanigans are irrelevant to impeachment. They want the hearings to be entirely focused on their accusation that President Trump threatened to withhold American military aid to force Kiev to investigate a political rival.

They say that questions about what Hunter did or didn’t do, and what his father knew and when he knew it, are just a conspiracy theory floated by Trump and his followers to confuse the American people.

But even if you buy the Democrats’ premise that Trump’s ­request was not merely inappropriate but illegal and a crime so terrible that it justifies impeachment, this makes no sense.

How can the House examine this matter without probing Trump’s motivation for requesting that Ukraine investigate the Bidens?

Biden’s younger and wayward son was being paid tens of thousands of dollars a month to be on the board of a Ukrainian energy company — despite having exactly zero qualifications for the post other than his last name. It is also a matter of record that President Barack Obama tasked Joe Biden with managing US relations with Ukraine at the time. We also know that “Ukraine’s energy sector — the country’s crucial geopolitical engine — was a central point of contention between the Obama administration and Kiev,” as The New York Times reported last week.

So if Trump — rightly or wrongly — believed there was something fishy about this and wanted Ukraine to dig into it, why wouldn’t Americans want to hear about it?

So what should the House ask Hunter and Joe Biden?

Hunter needs to be asked how and why he was hired by ­Burisma and what he knew about the firm’s possible links to Russia or Kremlin efforts to pressure the Kiev government.

Both Bidens need to tell us what they knew about each other’s Ukraine work, and they have to ready for skeptical questions about their assurances that they kept silent about it to each other.

Joe Biden needs to explain why his threats to withhold aid to Ukraine, about which he publicly boasted, were legitimate, while Trump’s were somehow an impeachable offense. He should also be asked what should be done to stop others from behaving as corruptly as his son did.

Any president has the right to ask questions about American involvement in corrupt acts abroad. That’s true — even if Joe Biden was innocent of wrongdoing and if Hunter is only guilty of being a lame grifter.

Asking Biden about Obama’s use of aid as leverage to get its way in Ukraine puts Trump’s ­actions into context. Nor is it ­irrelevant to point out that Obama’s assistance fell far short of what Kiev needed to defend its territory against Moscow’s aggression. It matters that it was only after Trump took office that lethal military supplies began to flow from Washington to Kiev.

You also don’t have to approve of Trump to understand that American administrations use aid to pressure foreign countries all the time and do so for a variety of reasons, not all of which are high-minded.

Merely asking these questions undermines the entire notion that Trump has committed an impeachable offense.

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