Five Facts That Compel the Biden Impeachment Inquiry

By Jonathan Turley

Below is my column in The Messenger on the reason why an impeachment inquiry is warranted.  I do not believe that a case for impeachment has been made, but there is clearly a need for an investigation into a growing array of allegations facing the President in this corruption scandal.

I also reject the notion that, because a conviction is unlikely in the Democratic-controlled Senate, the House should not go down this road. I rejected the same argument made by some Republicans during the Trump impeachment. The House has a separate constitutional duty in the investigation of potential impeachable offenses and to pass articles of impeachment if those allegations are found to be valid. My objection to the Trump impeachments were first and foremost the failure to fully investigate the underlying allegations and to create a full record to support the articles of impeachment. The Senate has its own constitutional function under the Constitution that it can either choose to fulfill or to ignore.  A House impeachment holds both constitutional and historical significance separate from any conviction. That does not mean that grounds for impeachment will be found in this inquiry.  While the President deserves a presumption of innocence in this process, the public deserves answers to these questions.

Here is the column:

With the commencement of an impeachment inquiry this week, the House of Representatives is moving the Biden corruption scandal into the highest level of constitutional inquiry. After stonewalling by the Bidens and federal agencies investigating various allegations, the move for a House inquiry was expected if not inevitable.

An impeachment inquiry does not mean that an impeachment itself is inevitable. But it dramatically increases the chances of finally forcing answers to troubling questions of influence-peddling and corruption.

As expected, many House Democrats — who impeached Donald Trump after only one hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, based on his phone call to Ukraine’s president — oppose any such inquiry into President Biden. House Republicans could have chosen to forego any hearings and use what I called a “snap impeachment,” as then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did with the second Trump impeachment in January 2021.

Instead, they have methodically investigated the corruption scandal for months and only now are moving to a heightened inquiry. The House has established a labyrinth of dozens of shell companies and accounts allegedly used to transfer millions of dollars to Biden family members. There is now undeniable evidence to support influence-peddling by Hunter Biden and some of his associates — with Joe Biden, to quote Hunter’s business partner Devon Archer, being “the brand” they were selling.

The suggestion that this evidence does not meet the standard for an inquiry into impeachable offenses is an example of willful blindness. It also is starkly different from the standard applied by congressional Democrats during the Trump and Nixon impeachment efforts.

The Nixon impeachment began on Oct. 30, 1973, just after President Nixon fired Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the Watergate allegations. The vote in the judiciary committee was along party lines. The House was correct to start that impeachment inquiry, although House leaders stressed that they were not prejudging the existence of impeachable offenses. The inquiry started roughly eight months before any indictments of defendants linked to the Watergate break-in. It was many months before clear evidence established connections to Nixon, who denied any wrongdoing or involvement.

Every impeachment inquiry is different, of course. In this case, there is a considerable amount of evidence gathered over months of methodical investigations by three different committees.

Consider just five established facts:

First, there appears to be evidence that Joe Biden lied to the public for years in denying knowledge of his son’s business dealings. Hunter Biden’s ex-business associate, Tony Bobulinski, has said repeatedly that he discussed some dealings directly with Joe Biden. Devon Archer, Hunter’s close friend and partner, described the president’s denials of knowledge as “categorically false.”

Moreover, Hunter’s laptop has communications from his father discussing the dealings, including audio messages from the president. The president allegedly spoke with his son on speakerphone during meetings with his associates on at least 20 occasions, according to Archer, attended dinners with some clients, and took photographs with others.

Second, we know that more than $20 million was paid to the Bidens by foreign sources, including figures in China, Ukraine, Russia and Romania. There is no apparent reason for the multilayers of accounts and companies other than to hide these transfers. Some of these foreign figures have allegedly told others they were buying influence with Joe Biden, and Hunter himself repeatedly invoked his father’s name — including a text exchange with a Chinese businessman in which he said his father was sitting next to him as Hunter demanded millions in payment. While some Democrats now admit that Hunter was selling the “illusion” of influence and access to his father, these figures clearly believed they were getting more than an illusion. That includes one Ukrainian businessman who reportedly described Hunter as dumber than his dog.

Third, specific demands were made on Hunter, including dealing with the threat of a Ukrainian prosecutor to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, where Hunter was given a lucrative board position. Five days later, Joe Biden forced the Ukrainians to fire the prosecutor, even though State Department and intelligence reports suggested that progress was being made on corruption. Likewise, despite warnings from State Department officials that Hunter was undermining anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine, he continued to receive high-level meetings with then-Secretary of State John Kerry and other State Department officials.

Fourth, Hunter repeatedly stated in emails that he paid his father as much as half of what he earned. There also are references to deals that included free office space and other perks for Joe Biden and his wife; other emails reference how Joe and Hunter Biden would use the same accounts and credit cards. Beyond those alleged direct benefits, Joe Biden clearly benefited from money going to his extended family.

Fifth, there is evidence of alleged criminal conduct by Hunter that could be linked to covering up these payments, from the failure to pay taxes to the failure to register as a foreign lobbyist. What is not established is the assumption by many that Joe Biden was fully aware of both the business dealings and any efforts to conceal them.

The White House is reportedly involved in marshaling the media to swat down any further investigation. In a letter drafted by the White House Counsel’s office, according to a CNN report media executives were told they need to “ramp up their scrutiny” of House Republicans “for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies.” It is a dangerous erosion of separation between the White House and the president’s personal legal team. Yet, many in the media have previously followed such directions from the Biden team — from emphasizing the story that the laptop might be “Russian disinformation” to an unquestioning acceptance of the president’s denial of any knowledge of his son’s dealings.

Notably, despite the vast majority of media echoing different defenses for the Bidens for years, the American public is not buying it. Polls show that most Americans view the Justice Department as compromised and Hunter Biden as getting special treatment for his alleged criminal conduct. According to a recent CNN poll, 61% of Americans believe Joe Biden was involved in his family’s business deals with China and Ukraine; only 1% say he was involved but did nothing wrong.

The American public should not harbor such doubts over corruption at the highest levels of our government. Thus, the House impeachment inquiry will allow Congress to use the very apex of its powers to force disclosures of key evidence and resolve some of these troubling questions. It may not result in an impeachment, but it will result in greater clarity. Indeed, it is that very clarity that many in Washington may fear the most from this inquiry.

Jonathan Turley, an attorney, constitutional law scholar and legal analyst, is the Shapiro Chair for Public Interest Law at The George Washington University Law School.





4 responses to “Five Facts That Compel the Biden Impeachment Inquiry”

  1. […] Five Facts That Compel the Biden Impeachment Inquiry […]

  2. Kadath Actual Avatar
    Kadath Actual

    “Third, specific demands were made on Hunter, including dealing with the threat of a Ukrainian prosecutor to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, where Hunter was given a lucrative board position. Five days later, Joe Biden forced the Ukrainians to fire the prosecutor”

    It is actually worse than that, as far as it appears to me.
    The first mention that I find of any direction communication from Ukrainian paymasters to the Biden’s, reference the Uke Prosecutor, is the the email sent on Nov 2, 2015.
    “close down any cases/pursuits against Nikolay in Ukraine”

    On Dec 6, 2015, the US embassy in Ukraine announces Biden’s visit to Kyiv/Kiev.

    On Dec 7, 2015, (via webarchive – Ukrainian media publishes a report in which they relay – “Biden said that it is necessary to reboot the govt and dismiss Prosecutor Victor Shokin”.

    If you consider the time that is required to do a security advance for travel, this is particularly notable. I have never personally done a foreign advance, but I have been the victim of a bad advance done for a domestic setting, and even in that disaster (stationed in an old B1 bomber pilot barracks with a cloud of dust that rose up off the bed when you tried to sit on it) we knew a month in advance that we were going to this event.

    If you estimate at least a two week advance ahead of the actual trip -if not longer – this places the first demand for what is essentially interfering in the Uke prosecutor’s investigations of Burisma to within two weeks of Biden ‘s Uke arrival – and the immediate local report of his demand for Shokin’s firing. Someone with Secret Service experience would likely have a better guesstimate than me, but to my own experience, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that it would be 4 weeks for an executive branch advance to be carried out, placing Biden’s trip almost exactly as soon as possible after the first Burisma request for action against Shokin by the Biden’s.

    I have never handled a Bribery investigation, but I have handled tons of Deceptive Practices, in which an affirmative defense is that the account that an instrument was drafted from actually belonged to the accused, and that the accused reasonably believed they had funds to cover the amount of the transaction. Someone who is addicted will in fact write bad checks on their own account, but they rarely had the funds needed to at any point fund the purchases…

    This can be impeached by historical account records, which show that the person never had in excess of 500 bucks in the account, but attempted to pass 8k in bad checks, for instance. In Bidens’ Uke payments, it is clear that the proximity of his Dec 6, 2015 trip in which contemporaneous historical reports made clear was focused on the firing of Shokin, appears to have taken place almost as soon as the LE advance could be completed.

    In Biden’s case, another LE anomaly may be in play, which is that people who talk to you in an interview will offer details and facts that do not in any way relate to what they are being accused of, but are far less eager to go into details about what would incriminate them. By offering the bizarre public admission of his Shokin firing scheme at the videotaped CFR event, this could be calculated to a purpose, instead of the typical Biden ‘mis-remembering’ that we are all familiar with.

    That purpose would be to put 4 months or so between the actual first plea for the firing of Shokin that I can find a certain record of, the email requesting Biden family action against the investigations being carried out by Shokin, and Biden’s Dec 6 2015 trip, in which local Uke media reports his Shokin firing demand.

    I would subpoena the Agents who carried out the advance, and the records of when this trip was planned. It is entirely possible that it could be coincidental, but if the Dec 6 2015 trip was not planned or an advance done until after the Nov 2 2015 email, it would indicate to me that it was an action taken in furtherance of the demand for which the Biden’s were being paid.

  3. Michael Doliner Avatar
    Michael Doliner

    I suspect this enquiry is just theatre to prepare for an announcement that there will be no impeachment. Sort of like the Warren Commission Report.

  4. mdoliner43 Avatar

    I suspect the inquiry is theater to conclude that there will be no impeachment. Sort of like the Warren Commission report.

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