By Jonathan Turley
Below is my column in The Hill on the exposure of the Biden family and its long-standing business of influence peddling. Newly released evidence from the House Committee on Ways and Means reveals over $20 million coming from 23 separate countries on four continents to at least nine Biden family members. Not only are the Biden transfers becoming clear, so is the Biden family tree in this lucrative form of corruption.
Here is the column:
These days, it seems like everyone is…well, messing with the Bidens. The president’s son, Hunter Biden, is facing federal charges on gun violations under a law that his father has heralded. He is also looking at possible additional charges on taxes.
Joe Biden’s brother James Biden was just subpoenaed alongside his nephew over millions of dollars sent by foreign figures as part of an influence-peddling operation.
Joe Biden is now formally under investigation for possible impeachment with at least four articles of impeachment under consideration.
Finally, a media that has long shielded the Bidens is now starting to acknowledge that Hunter and others were engaged in corrupt influence peddling.
All of this scrutiny is not simply threatening the Biden sense of invincibility. It is also revealing more about the Bidens behind the scenes in an unvarnished and unflattering light.
Prosecutors often build narratives around the conspicuous consumption and the lifestyle demands of targets. Trump’s personal and financial dealings have featured greatly in litigation. The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus and others have written about how the evidence exposed a “stunning display of Trump’s narcissism.”
The same may be true with Biden. There is a sharp disconnect between the public persona long maintained by the press and what is becoming more apparent to the public now.
Although the image of a “unifier-in-chief” quickly collapsed, the most lasting portrayal is that Joe Biden cares. Unlike Trump, he is portrayed as acting not out of greed, but an overwhelming desire to do good. In a typical article, a contributor to Forbes gushed about “How Empathy Defines Joe Biden.” The article explained that “Biden feels empathetic because that is who he is.”
That is not the image that emerges from the growing evidence about Biden and his family. The Bidens are suffering from legal exposure in actions concerning everything from withholding child support to peddling influence to federal felonies.
The investigations and inquiries often turn on questions of intent for actions taken by Biden family members, including the president himself. The motive is often all too apparent.
Hunter Biden left a long trail of emails and texts seeking millions in exchange for access to his father. He is shown in messages invoking his father’s power, threatening foreign figures to send him money. In one message, he allegedly makes a demand for an immediate transfer of cash from a Chinese businessman by saying that his father is sitting next to him to make sure the payment comes through.
Hunter Biden was burning through a fortune on drugs, prostitutes and high living. There were many eager to have the son of the vice president dependent on their largesse.
While Hunter is often portrayed as a human wreck, salvaged by influence-seekers, his uncles generated their own controversies. James has been a well-known figure among alleged influence peddlers for years in cashing in on access to his brother, Joe. Joe’s younger brother, Frank, has also been long identified as involved in the family influence peddling. Like Hunter, Frank appears to have been in dire financial straits due to his careening lifestyle and lack of any appreciable skills.
Frank’s need for money was not only great but known to his brother. In 1999, at age 43, Frank was involved in a car crash in Cardiff-by-the-Sea near Encinitas, California. He was accused of responsibility for the death of single father Michael Albano and then of evading service and responsibility in lawsuits by Albano’s surviving children. He only recently began paying what he owes.
Having had his driver’s license suspended in Florida, Frank nonetheless rented a Jaguar and had a younger man whom he had met at a Whole Foods driving him. Biden, sitting in the passenger seat, reportedly shifted the car into manual gear and encouraged Jason Turton, 25, to “punch it,” at which point he hit 80 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone.
Turton was later reportedly found to have twice the allowed level of alcohol in his system. Witnesses said everyone in the car was drinking that day and Frank was accused of telling Turton to “keep driving” after killing Albano. Frank would ultimately remain at the scene after Turton ran off by foot.
The police report suggested Frank was uncooperative with police on key points of the investigation.
Frank Biden defaulted in the action brought by Albano’s daughters, but he left California and spent decades evading payments. When attorney John F. Hayter, representing the daughters, garnished Biden’s Wells Fargo bank account in February, he found it virtually empty.
It took 20 years to get him to pay any of the $1 million he owed in damages. He was also reportedly dodging creditors.
The daughters had repeatedly asked Joe Biden to intervene, but nothing occurred for years until he was running for the vice presidency and the media began to pick up on his brother’s evasion of liability.
When Biden was still a senator, Albano’s daughter did finally get a response from Joe Biden’s staff that explained, “As you are aware, however, Frank has no assets with which to satisfy the judgment. The senator regrets that this is where matters stand and that he cannot be more helpful.”
That appeared to change just when Joe was running for the vice presidency. It was also when the Biden influence peddling efforts seemed to take off in earnest.
These cases reveal not just a family committed to corrupt influence peddling, but also strikingly similar patterns of legal and financial evasion. It also shows a family whose members had an insatiable thirst for cash and few skills beyond monetizing government service.
The same is true in impeachments. When I served as lead counsel in the last judicial impeachment trial, my client, Judge Thomas Porteous, faced allegations of receiving gifts from those seeking to influence him. The House managers focused on Porteous’s lifestyle and gambling expenses to explain his seeking gifts from those with business in his court.
As these investigations and prosecutions continue, the public may conclude that it is not empathy but avarice that defines the Bidens.
Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.
Not For Profit – For Global Justice – Since 2001
Views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.