Trump Survived Impeachment. Biden May Not be So Lucky. Joe and Hunter’s “5000 Secret Emails”
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As vice president, Joe Biden sent some 5,000 emails – many to his son, Hunter – using secret pseudonyms. However, without knowing exactly what these pseudonyms were, nobody could request the emails under the “Freedom of Information” Act. As of this week, that’s no longer the case: congressional investigators have discovered at least three pseudonyms and requested the documents.
Unfortunately, they’ve been met with a stonewall – the same one that has met all their requests for information from the administration. We still don’t know what the emails said, who replied to them, and who else was copied in. That means we do not know whether Hunter Biden forwarded them to business partners either to share inside information or to demonstrate powerful connections.
Despite the official blackout, we can reasonably infer that these emails pose a real danger to President Biden, or at least that he perceives that they one day might. The documents are stored at the National Archives, and Biden need only ask to get them released. That he has refused to do so raises some uncomfortable questions. This is, after all, the very same man who promised to provide “transparency” on his first day in office.
Republicans, perhaps predictably, believe that the secret emails will prove that the former vice president was deeply involved in his son Hunter’s lucrative influence peddling. Peeling back this veil of secrecy would be one advantage of a formal impeachment investigation, which the House of Representatives is expected to launch soon.
Three House committees – Judiciary, Oversight, and Ways and Means – are currently investigating alleged corruption within the Biden family. While all have the power to subpoena, they face a major limitation in regards to enforcement. Let’s say one of those committees requests testimony or documents from the Secret Service. If they don’t receive them, all the committees can do is ask Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to go to court and force compliance. But Garland, desperate to protect his boss, is highly unlikely to sign-off on their request.
That said, if the House launches an impeachment investigation the Department of Justice will lose that blocking power.
The committee can then go to court directly and demand compliance. It doesn’t have crawl on bended knees to President Biden’s appointees and ask, in vain, for help.
What are House Republicans really looking for in those emails? Mainly, they want proof the vice president discussed US policy with his son, who then shared that information with his business partners.
If the vice president indicated he was helping his son, that would be far worse – and if any classified information was leaked, that would be a crime in its own right.
House impeachment investigators won’t stop with the emails. They want a full range of information from the White House, Executive Branch agencies, Biden family members, their business partners, and the banks through which the family allegedly funnelled foreign income. The banks in question generated hundreds of “suspicious activity” reports on these foreign transfers, which then disappeared into a web of Biden family LLCs – a web investigators will be keen to unravel.
In tracing these transactions, the committee will be looking out for two kinds of possible corruption.
The first and most important involves any direct involvement by Joe Biden himself. His family members matter only if their income hinged on Joe’s position and actions. Hunter and Joe’s brothers, James and Frank, made a lot of money trading on Joe’s name and his powerful position – but that’s not necessarily illegal. Nor is it illegal if Joe himself knew what they were doing and lied about it. What is illegal is if Joe knowingly aided these family efforts.
The second involves any attempted cover up. We know that the Biden White House and multiple agencies seem to have obstructed any harmful disclosures. That’s also not inherently illegal – though it may be politically damaging if the obstruction is publicised – but any official involvement from administration officials on behalf of the president and his aides would be.
The president has strenuously denied knowledge of his son’s business activities. As more damning information became publicly available, however, the White House quietly modified the content of those denials. For years, Joe Biden stuck to the line that he knew nothing at all about the seemingly shady deals. Recently, though, his White House press secretary has switched to saying “he wasn’t in business with his son”. The shift was obvious, but not acknowledged.
An impeachment investigation does not necessarily mean a full House vote on the matter. Republicans will take the next step only if the investigation turns up lots of evidence – and they’ll need far more to convince the Democrats to remove the president after a Senate trial. But if they have it, the consequences for Biden’s re-election campaign will be catastrophic. It’s little wonder that the Democrats are keen to minimalise this story: they’ve tied themselves to an aging, infirm and unpopular leader. Adding on a corruption charge may prove fatal.
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