Consortium News‘ Patrick Lawrence will be daily covering the U.S. House inquiry into the impeachment of President Joe Biden. This is his first report.
For many weeks the Democratic Party and the media that cravenly serve it have dismissed House investigations into the Biden family’s potentially corrupt overseas business dealings as frivolous, ungrounded, and wholly partisan. Consortium News takes the allegations of presidential involvement in numerous bribery and influence-peddling schemes to be comparable in magnitude with those against President Nixon during the Watergate crisis. With the opening of formal hearings Thursday, CN begins regular coverage and analysis of the proceedings. What follows is our inaugural report.
By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News
Ten months after Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives and eight months after the House Oversight Committee began to investigate the Biden family’s foreign business dealings and the president’s role in them, the Committee formally opened an inquiry Thursday into what House Speaker Kevin McCarthy termed at the outset “a culture of corruption” in which, mounting evidence suggests, Joe Biden is in all likelihood criminally implicated.
Thursday’s nearly seven-hour proceedings, which can be viewed here, were a tour d’horizon — introductory as against substantive. Ranking members of the Oversight Committee, chaired by James Comer, the four-term Kentucky Republican, offered an overview of the evidence so far derived from investigators, written records, and witness testimonies. The opening remarks of Comer, Rep. Jason Smith, and Rep. Jim Jordan suggest two things:
- One, committee members appear determined to see this process through to its just conclusion. This is unlikely to prove a waste of time.
- Two, the House is likely to develop enough evidence in coming months to bring Articles of Impeachment to the floor for a vote, and if passed — underscore “if” — send the Articles on to the Senate.
A Moment in History
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) September 28, 2023
What began Thursday is formally named The Basis for an Impeachment Inquiry of President Joseph Biden. Note the nomenclature. This is not in itself an impeachment proceeding.
If the past eight months were preliminary to the start of these hearings, these hearings are preliminary to a finding that there are grounds to impeach Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. An impeachment proceeding would follow when the House sends its Articles to the upper chamber.
If impeached by the House, the Senate would then determine by way of a trial whether or not to remove Biden from office.
Comer and his colleagues presented a compelling review of what Oversight already has in hand — Hunter Biden’s email trails and texts, “the Big Guy’s” long record of lying about his involvement in the family’s grifting, the Justice Department’s coverups and obstructions, the documentary evidence of the Bidens’ shakedown, père et fils, of Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas company at the heart of the story.
The Burisma case seems to be the strongest against the dissembling president and, by-all-evidence, his bottomlessly unprincipled son. What happened between the Bidens and Burisma is not merely a matter of impropriety or immorality, or otherwise poor conduct: If proven, and the hard evidence seems to be there, it should be major jail-time against the law.
Comer announced during the hearing that the committee has subpoenaed the banking records of both Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s brother. They must be produced by Oct. 12.
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New evidence arrives at Oversight’s offices daily now, it seems, and among the more interesting features of Thursday’s opening hearings were broad details of material that came in just the previous few days.
This includes two more incriminating wire communications from Chinese nationals, an email in which Hunter Biden boasts of a deal worth $10 million from one company “for introductions alone,” and more testimony from IRS whistleblowers, saying that one Leslie Wolf, a U.S. attorney, barred the tax agency from mentioning “Political Figure No. 1” as it sought an investigative warrant. Wolf is, with her husband, a longtime Democratic partisan and donor in multiple election cycles.
Reduced to Calling it ‘Foolish’ & ‘Pathetic’
Rep. Jamie Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, bloviated for considerable minutes — not once engaging any of the evidence outlined. The proceedings were “pathetic,” they were “foolishness,” they were “based on a long debunked and discredited lie.” This impeachment inquiry, Raskin said, “is the result, directly or indirectly, of Donald Trumps’s pressure.”
Raskin would not be worth mentioning but for what he implicitly signaled Thursday. Democrats are not going to address the grave matters to hand on the evidence: They seem to know they cannot.
As The New York Times reported a few weeks ago, Democrats will go to the public and wage their war by way of a propaganda blitz of exceptional proportions on the thought — and they are correct in this — that you can fool some of the people all of the time if they are liberal authoritarians, otherwise known as loyal Democrats.
This is what we saw when Raskin spoke Thursday, neither more nor less. He had nothing to offer other than theater and spectacle.
This strategy is all the Democrats seem to have. It will be excruciatingly difficult to carry it out as evidence mounts until it is so high it is impossible for anyone but robotic loyalists to turn their eyes from it. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time, after all. Especially, it seems, as Raskin serves as the Democrats’ point man on the House floor.
A Major Battle of the Information War
We have lived through information wars before. The Russiagate years can be so described. But we are in for one now that may prove the most invasive and totalized of all. The question raised is, Can incessant repetition of lies and misrepresentations triumph in the American consciousness over perfectly discernible realities?
Those who follow this process will be invited seven times on seven days a week to read it as sheer partisan politics and nothing more. I consider it imperative, in the cause of clear sight, to set aside all such urgings. The truth does not belong to a political party.
Comer was attentive to this question in his opening statement. “In recent history, Democrats inflicted much damage on the credibility of special investigations by peddling the Russian collusion hoax,” he said. “But this Committee under this majority will not pursue such witch hunts based on unfounded allegations, innuendo, and no real evidence.”
“This majority” is Republican, yes. Republicans, or many of them, are eager to take down Joe Biden, yes. But at the outset, at least, we must set aside party affiliation and ambition and take statements such as this as valid expressions of intent until it is demonstrated otherwise.
The Democrats’ biggest problem after the opening day of hearings: Based on what we have so far seen, what is to come will have a lot more than unfounded allegations and innuendo to it.
The hearings continue.
Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, lecturer and author, most recently of Journalists and Their Shadows. Other books include Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century. His Twitter account, @thefloutist, has been permanently censored.
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The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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