Below is my (slightly updated) column in the New York Post on three myths being widely repeated in the Biden impeachment inquiry. These false narratives have been eagerly repeated in the media despite lacking legal or factual support. In the interest of interjecting a modicum of reality into this debate, here is why these defenses are illusory.
With the formal approval of the impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Joe Biden, the alarm and denial in Washington has reached an almost hysterical level.
Despite overwhelming evidence of a corrupt Biden family influence-peddling operation worth millions of dollars, not a single Democratic member voted for an inquiry into the allegations.
Nearly 70% of voters (and 40% of Democrats) believe Biden has acted unlawfully or unethically or both.
Yet every Democrat voted to stop any further inquiry.
Even in our blindly partisan times, that is no easy rationalization.
That’s why members are repeating three myths like a mantra on the Hill.
They’ll likely continue as the House moves to compel testimony of key parties.
When I testified at the first Biden impeachment inquiry hearing months ago, I said the threshold for an inquiry was obviously satisfied by the evidence of these massive payments and the contradictions of the president’s past claims.
Indeed, at least four articles of impeachment could be established if the House confirms critical facts.
That is the point of an inquiry: to compel not impeachment but answers. That’s why I encouraged the House to hold this formal vote.
Three myths, however, will have to be set aside.
Joe Biden did not benefit from the influence peddling
After years of suppressing this scandal, the media and even some Democrats now admit Hunter Biden and his uncles have long been involved in influence peddling.
The United States has led global efforts to criminalize and deter this common form of corruption for years.
Recent testimony from Biden associates confirmed they were selling “the Biden Brand” and Joe Biden regularly called into meetings and met with business associates.
The last line of defense has been to argue that while millions may have been sent to Biden family members in raw influence peddling, there is no evidence Joe actually benefited from the money as opposed to his children, brothers and grandchildren.
This false narrative is being repeated despite the fact courts have rejected this claim in actual criminal cases.
Not only have payments to children and other family members been viewed as benefits to a defendant, but the same is true in impeachments.
I served as lead counsel in the last judicial impeachment tried before the Senate.
My client, Judge G. Thomas Porteous, had been impeached by the House for, among other things, benefits received by his children, including gifts related to a wedding.
It’s about Hunter Biden’s addictions, not actions
Democrats are again insisting that a complex, multimillion-dollar influence-peddling operation was simply the product of Hunter being a blacked-out drug addict for years.
The argument obviously cuts both ways.
Even if Hunter was some addict thinking only about his next fix, it only highlights that these foreign figures were giving millions for access to his father, not the advice or expertise of his son.
But Hunter’s own counsel has undermined this claim by arguing in Hunter’s gun case that he had emerged from his addiction just in time to sign the allegedly false gun form.
Much of the misconduct occurred when Hunter was, by his own lawyers’ account, suddenly clear-headed and responsible.
The evidence belies claims that Hunter was not responsible for these transactions or the underlying influence peddling.
It shows a knowing, organized effort with the involvement of his uncles and, in some cases, his father.
The effort to portray Hunter as some purse-snatching junkie does not fit the evidence as he flies around the world to meet with corrupt figures and secure millions.
It’s all about Hunter’s truck
The latest myth is particularly maddening.
The House Oversight Committee released new evidence showing payments to the president out of Hunter’s business accounts.
The committee used the payments to show these business accounts were being used for personal payments and there was an intermingling of funds.
Democrats and the media immediately latched onto payments where Hunter was allegedly paying back loans to help pay for his truck.
Members told the Ways and Means Committee this was merely “a father’s love” and not anything impeachable.
It’s a cynical effort to focus on a few thousand dollars while ignoring the millions the committees detailed in months of investigation.
Democratic members make it sound like the impeachment inquiry is based on a couple alleged truck payments. It is not.
The truck payments are a handful among dozens of transfers found from these accounts to Hunter or his family members.
The point is the proceeds of influence peddling may have been used to pay back the president, who was supporting his family members.
Dollars are fungible. The money in these accounts were intermingled with personal expenses, including payments to Hunter’s father.
Once again, President Biden would be viewed as benefiting from the millions of dollars going to his family even without direct payments.
The question is his knowledge and involvement — not those benefits.
That not a single Democrat is demanding answers about this corruption is disappointing but hardly surprising.
But Biden is now facing an impeachment inquiry that will finally demand answers, not myths, on the Biden family’s influence-peddling operation.
Jonathan Turley is an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School.