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Robbins: Bowing to Trump, the GOP launches a phony impeachment inquiry

By Jeff Robbins - | Sep 20, 2023

A political gaffe, journalist Michael Kinsley once said, is what happens when a politician accidentally tells the truth. Republican Rep. Ken Buck is no doubt drawing fire from his Republican colleagues in the House for his Washington Post op-ed last week deriding his party’s newly launched “impeachment inquiry” into President Joe Biden for “relying on an imagined history.” But what else is new? As we Jews recite every year at Passover: “Why is today different from any other day?”

In the case of congressional Republicans, it isn’t: imagined history, imagined facts, imagined rigged elections, imagined declassification of documents — this sort of thing has been the Republicans’ staple since the Big Bamboozler took his famous escalator ride down Trump Tower in 2015. Buck’s accurate labeling of the impeachment inquiry as suffused with fiction will surely stir unhappiness among the Proud Boy Wannabes to whom the Grand Old Party caters.

The inquiry was ordered up by former President Donald Trump, who is keen to divert attention from the 91 separate criminal charges pending against him in four separate jurisdictions, for everything from falsifying records to hide his hush money payments to a porn star, to trying to block the counting of electoral votes in order to illegally stay in office, to racketeering, to stealing classified military secrets. He claims that he is innocent of all 91 charges, but he also claimed that ingesting cleaning fluid might be a neat way of avoiding COVID-19. So, a little bit of distraction is highly desirable from his perspective, in order to interrupt the diet of the once and, he hopes, future president’s rich assortment of apparent felonies.

Ergo the announcement by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, his manhood in consignment, that the GOP-controlled House was starting impeachment proceedings into Biden. What the basis of them is, we do not know, and he could not say, but if Trump and his acolytes want an impeachment inquiry then that is what they — and the country — shall get. The gist of it all is that Hunter Biden, the president’s son, whose personal life has been a self-inflicted disaster for 20 years, took advantage of his father’s name in order to generate business opportunities he wouldn’t otherwise have gotten.

What a bombshell! If grifting off of a famous family member’s name was a crime, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Jared Kushner would be doing time in Leavenworth.

But Buck cannot find any there there that makes Joe Biden responsible for anything at all, let alone anything impeachable, having to do with his son. “What’s missing,” Buck wrote, “despite years of investigation, is the smoking gun that connects Joe Biden.” And which connects Joe Biden to what? Republican Rep. Mike Lawler put it gingerly: “The question for me right now is, the investigations, are they producing enough facts and evidence that arranges taking it to the next step? I don’t think it’s there at the moment.”

Of course, it isn’t that GOP investigations, with the accompanying huffing and puffing about “the Biden crime family,” haven’t produced “enough” evidence of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden. It’s that they have produced nothing — as in zero. Thus far they have recollections of a couple of handfuls of pleasantries offered by then-vice president Biden to business associates of his son, no doubt knowing that his son wanted to make himself look good, over six years before Joe Biden became president. Now there’s a high crime and misdemeanor for you!

Not only do the Republicans have nothing on Joe Biden, apparently — they don’t even seem to have anything on his son other than the gun and tax charges already filed against him by Biden’s Justice Department, all related to his addiction. The House Oversight Committee chaired by MAGA maven Rep. James Comer keeps promising to subpoena the younger Biden but keeps backing off. “Well, he can fight the subpoena in court,” stammered Comer on Fox News. “It’s very difficult.”

No, it’s not. It’s simple. What’s difficult is cooking up something out of nothing, even if that happens to be a House specialty.

Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.


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