With the Indictment and Inquiry, Democrats Now Face a Moment of Maddening Truth – JONATHAN TURLEY

Below is my column in The Hill on the expected formal vote this week on the impeachment inquiry. The vote is only to continue to look into the allegations that President Joe Biden knew of the influence peddling operation of his family and fostered those efforts.  The final line of defense is to acknowledge that this was influence peddling but that Biden was only trying to support his son. The question for this vote is: how do you know? We have millions raised in what most view as corrupt influence peddling. Many of those payments are now confirmed by the Justice Department in the second Hunter Biden indictment. Only an investigation will establish the truth on the President’s knowledge and involvement. Yet, for years, Democratic members have opposed any investigation. They now face a moment of truth.

Author Aldous Huxley once said, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.”

Such a moment of madness has arrived in Congress as members prepare to vote on the formal approval of an impeachment inquiry. The second indictment of Hunter Biden shattered long-standing denials and narratives repeated by the White House and members of Congress. What is left in its wake is now plain to the public: corruption.

The vote is not whether to impeach President Biden, but whether members support the investigation into these growing allegations of corruption by the Biden family. According to recent polling, nearly 70 percent of voters (and 40 percent of Democrats) believe that Biden has acted unlawfully or unethically or both. Yet with almost half of the Democratic Party viewing Biden’s conduct as worthy of investigation, it is not clear whether a single Democratic member will vote to look into these allegations.

In September, I testified at the first impeachment inquiry hearing and stated that the evidence had clearly passed the threshold for such an inquiry. While there was no requirement to hold a formal vote to start this process (as the Democrats did with Trump), I encouraged the members to hold such a vote.

Since that hearing, the evidence has only mounted against President Biden. It is now clear that Biden lied when he maintained as a candidate, and later as president, that he had no knowledge of his son’s business dealings with foreign interests. Even Hunter himself contradicted the president on this claim.

It is also now clear that he lied in denying that his son never made money in China. The indictment confirms massive transfers from Chinese sources.

It is also clear that Hunter was engaged in raw influence peddling. This included threatening at least one Chinese businessman that his father was sitting next to him and would retaliate against him if he did not send millions to the Bidens.

President Biden also lied when he claimed this week that he had not had any “interactions” with his son’s business associates. There are emails, audiotapes and testimony now disproving that claim.

Millions of dollars flowed to Biden family members through a labyrinth of shell companies and accounts. Hunter Biden sent emails saying that up to half of his income went to his father while they used shared accounts and credit cards for expenses.

Even Biden associates now admit that they were selling “the Biden brand” and influence with Joe Biden. Advocates simply argue that they were merely selling the “illusion” of influence.

It is now time to see if a single Democratic member will stand against corruption and support an inquiry into the president’s role and later cover-up of this corruption. That includes the use of White House staff to spread false claims and attack critics.

I have previously discussed four possible articles of impeachment that warrant investigation.

One of the false narratives being bandied about is that there is no proof that the influence peddling of Biden’s son and brothers benefited the president himself. Thus, the argument goes, even though he was the subject of the influence peddling, Joe Biden did not legally or constitutionally benefit from the payments to constitute bribery or other crimes.

That is utter nonsense. The courts have repeatedly found that benefits to family members (far more modest than the millions in this case) can constitute bribery for a politician. That has also been the position of the Justice Department in past cases. Regardless of whether Hunter or his associates were speaking truthfully about handing over percentages of these funds to Joe Biden, he practically and legally benefited from the millions going to his family.

Even if members insist that they are not yet convinced, it makes no sense to insist that there is no direct evidence while opposing efforts to establish such evidence. These members have opposed any investigation into the allegations from the start.

Polling suggests most people believe there was a massive influence peddling operation built around Joe Biden, and that the president lied about not knowing about these deals. It is now time to get answers directly from the key players, from Hunter Biden to the president himself.

There is more at stake for the members than a Democratic president. The Democratic Party has already embraced censorship and abandoned its long advocacy of free speech. Democrats are now running on the pledge to expand censorship on social media. The question is whether, as a party, it will now vote to shield corruption, even with almost half of Democratic voters calling for answers.

The Democratic Party that I was raised in and supported was more than the party of censorship and corruption. It fought for free speech and good government. There were principles that came before personalities.

That is why we have reached a point of inescapable clarity. There is no principled basis to oppose an investigation into these chilling allegations. Stripped of the false narratives and faux constitutional claims, what remains are raw politics and utter madness.

The only question is, who will step forward on the Democratic side to demand not impeachment but answers?

So let’s call the vote.

Jonathan Turley is the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at the George Washington University Law School.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *