To impeach or not? The evidence in the Biden inquiry that is gripping Washington

Democrats and some Republicans are dubious there’s evidence and some even outright deny it, but investigators and legal experts disagree.

Published: December 17, 2023 11:06pm

Shortly after House Republicans unanimously authorized an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden, a storied wire service blared an eye-popping headline: “Biden impeachment inquiry authorized by House Republicans despite lack of evidence,” Reuters told voters. Across the political gulf that divides America and its media, Newsmax quoted a prominent Democrat insisting that the “impeachment inquiry stains Biden.”

Amid such starkly different narratives about the 46th president and his son Hunter’s entangled foreign dealings, it’s easy for the facts to fall to the wayside or to forget that the inquiry is not an impeachment: just a legal effort to compel evidence that will help lawmakers eventually judge whether articles of impeachment are merited.

Along that contentious journey – and Democrats from the White House to Capitol Hill have made clear they intend to make it contentious – there will be significant questions of law and history that must be resolved.

For instance, much of the behavior under scrutiny occurred when Joe Biden was vice president, or when he left office. Can a chief executive be impeached for misconduct, if proven, that occurred before he was elected president?

Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., a critic of Biden, thinks not. “So what he did as vice president, what he did in between the two [offices] may not be impeachable,” Mullin said last week.

Others point out that Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 over conduct involving sexual impropriety that began long before he was president, in part because he lied about it under oath after becoming the nation’s chief executive. In other words, he engaged in a conspiracy to cover up old behavior while in office. Many see parallels with Biden now.

“The Biden matter raises questions over the President’s knowledge and involvement in an influence peddling operation that netted millions of dollars from foreign sources,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told Congress this fall. “That operation involved a variety of alleged criminal conduct ranging from tax evasion to extortion to bribery. The President’s involvement and effort to conceal these dealings could support cognizable claims of conspiracy.”

With such a debate likely to rage well into the 2024 election, most Americans just want to know the facts. Here are some of the key ones that have emerged thus far.

Joe Biden has made false statements as president and while running for president about his family’s foreign dealings.

This fact is now even widely accepted in the legacy news media. Joe Biden, for instance, denied during the 2020 presidential race and as recently as a few weeks ago that his family received money from China.

“My son has not made money in terms of this thing about, what are you talking about, China. I have not had … the only guy who made money from China is this guy [Donald Trump]. He’s the only one. Nobody else has made money from China,” Biden said during an October 2020 debate that The Washington Post has now given a four-Pinocchio rating for falsehood.

Documentary evidence introduced by the House Ways and Means Committee and by federal prosecutors in Hunter Biden’s tax evasion case shows that Biden family entities received $9 million from Chinese accounts in 2017 alone, including a $3 million “thank you” payment, a $5 million loan and a $1 million legal retainer for Hunter Biden from an now-convicted Chinese executive named Patrick Ho.

Those payments were sandwiched around a meeting Joe Biden had in mid-2017 with the Chinese business partners who were dealing with his brother James and son Hunter about those payments. And Hunter Biden involved his father’s name directly in a text message trying to pressure the Chinese executives to accelerate the $5 million loan transaction.

House investigators also have traced $40,000 into Joe Biden’s personal accounts from that same $5 million Chinese transaction, which came in the form of a loan repayment from James Biden.And Hunter Biden also paid money to his father from accounts that got funds form his foreign business dealings.

James Biden told the FBI last year in a document released by Congress that the family was helping Chinese firm CEFC China Energy, try to obtain U.S. natural gas assets and that he believed the firm’s chairman was likely tied directly to the communist country’s president Xi Jinping.

Joe Biden has also repeatedly falsely stated as a candidate and as president that he never met with Hunter Biden’s business associates. He made the false denial again earlier this month. “I did not. And it’s just a bunch of lies. They’re lies. I did not. They’re lies,” Biden said Dec. 6 when asked about the meetings.

Just the News has reviewed documentary evidence found on Hunter Biden’s infamous abandoned laptop seized by the FBI, as well as IRS and FBI witness interviews and testimony from congressional witnesses that  show Joe Biden:

  • Hosted a Kazakh bank executive and associate of Hunter Biden at the Naval Observatory to discuss that businessman’s wishes for the next United Nation’s secretary general;
  • Dined with Hunter Biden’s Burisma Holding associates from Ukraine, a Russian oligarch living in London and a Kazakh businessmen at two dinners at the swanky Washington D.C. restaurant Café Milano in April 2014 and April 2015;
  • Met with Chinese executives from CEFC in 2017 and earlier when he was vice president, according to family friend and Hunter Biden business associate Rob Walker; and
  • Got on phone calls with Hunter Biden’s business associates about two dozen times while he as vice president, according to congressional testimony from Hunter Biden’s former business partner Devon Archer.

Joe Biden and his campaign engaged in an effort to deceive voters in the 2020 election by falsely portraying Hunter Biden’s FBI-seized laptop as Russian disinformation

The bombshell evidence released earlier this year shows that Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in the person of then-campaign adviser and future Secretary Antony Blinken instigated an effort to get a letter signed by 51 intelligence experts, including several former CIA directors, that falsely portrayed the Hunter Biden laptop and its contents as Russian disinformation in October 2020.

In fact, the intelligence community had no such evidence of Russian disinformation, according to former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. And evidence released this summer by two IRS whistleblowers shows that the FBI had authenticated and corroborated the laptop months before the letter was released.

Former Acting CIA Director Mike Morrell has admitted he orchestrated the letter at the prompting of Blinken and did so in an effort to simply give Joe Biden a talking point at the last presidential debate against Donald Trump to blunt the headline-grabbing contents from the laptop as they eked out from The New York Post, Just the News and other outlets. “I wanted him (Biden) to win the election," Morell told the House Judiciary Committee in explaining why he helped circulate the letter.

Joe Biden obliged, looking directly into the camera at the debate and telling voters the laptop was disinformation. “There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he's accusing me of is a Russian plant,” Biden said. “… Five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he's saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it except his good friend Rudy Giuliani.”  

Biden continued to peddle the false story even after the election. “Yes, yes, yes," Biden responded to a question by Fox News’ Peter Doocy about if he believed the laptop was Russian disinformation. Media outlets friendly to Biden, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, outright banned any reporting on the laptop's contents, and did not acknowledge its authenticity until months after the election.

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Just the News the letter and Biden’s false story materially impacted the outcome of the 2020 election and was a black eye to the U.S. spy community, the social media firms that censored the laptop contents and the news organizations who ran with the story of disinformation.

"Would Joe Biden be the president United States if there hadn't been the laptop cover-up?" he asked. "I doubt it. Would inflation be where it is if there hadn't been laptop cover-up? I doubt it. You know, we're paying a price right now for the double standard in journalism.”

Joe Biden was part of “the brand” that his son Hunter Biden sold for millions of dollars in payments to foreigners in an influence peddling scheme

Archer’s blockbuster testimony this summer made clear that Joe Biden was a willing participant in his son’s efforts to sell influence to foreigners, getting on calls and attending meetings and reinforcing his son’s potential influence in the nation’s capital. Archer’s account is backed up by written testimony and documents from other partners with first-hand knowledge.

The president’s defenders, confronted by the damning evidence, have moved the goalposts, arguing now that Joe Biden never benefited from the financial payments or wasn’t “financially involved” in the family’s businesses as Hunter Biden himself claimed at a Capitol Hill news conference last week.

Even those claims conflict with emerging evidence. Congress has released bank records showing at least $240,000 in payments from James Biden’s accounts to Joe Biden came from proceeds either from China or another business client, a struggling health care company. And an email from Hunter Biden’s laptop states that he made keys and wanted Joe Biden to have access to his private business office space.

Legal experts are pointing out that financial benefit is not needed as an element of the charge of having committed a high crime or misdemeanor. The experts explain that if he knew his family was cashing in on his name and influence and helped facilitate such efforts with meetings, calls or other actions, he could be considered part of a conspiracy.

“The record currently contains witness and written evidence that the President: (1) has lied about key facts in these foreign dealings, (2) was the focus of a multimillion-dollar influence peddling scheme; and (3) may have benefitted from this corruption through millions of dollars sent to his family as well as more direct possible benefits,” Turley testified to Congress in September.

There also is precedent for impeachment in the House for enrichment of a public figure’s family members: In 2009, the House impeached U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous of New Orleans on charges that included he allowed a wedding gift to go his children from a party in one of the cases over which he presided.

Ironically, one of the impeachment managers in that case was Rep. Adam Schiff, now one Joe Biden's most ardent defenders. And one of Porteous’ lead defense lawyers was Turley, who has pointed out that case’s relevance to the Biden impeachment inquiry.

“Not only have payments to children and other family members been viewed as benefits to a defendant, but the same is true in impeachments,” Turley wrote in a recent column. “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.”

Joe Biden changed U.S. policy when he withheld $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine to force the firing of a prosecutor investigating his son

Documents published by Just the News in September show that then-Vice President Biden in December 2015 changed the official recommendation of federal officials from the State, Treasury and Justice Departments when he decided to withhold a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee to Ukraine unless then-President Petro Poroshenko fired Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. At the time, Shokin was ramping up an investigation into Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden served as a board member.

Archer testified Shokin’s probe was upsetting Burisma and that Hunter Biden contacted people in Washington D.C. to intervene. Documents obtained by Just the News under the Freedom of Information Act show Hunter Biden worked with a firm called Blue Star Strategies from 2015 to 2016 to try to end the investigations.

In the middle of that effort, Joe Biden forced Shokin’s firing by withholding the loan guarantees, something he would later brag about on national television.

Before Biden took the action, a task force of State, Justice and Treasury officials recommended that Biden give the $1 billion because Shokin’s office had made adequate progress on anti-corruption reforms, according to State Department memos.

Biden and his allies claimed during Donald Trump’s 2019 impeachment there was wide agreement among US and European officials to dismiss Shokin, but the State Department documents show just the opposite.

In fact, a top State official sent a letter of praise to Shokin shortly before Biden intervened. And official European Union documents show the European Commission also concluded Shokin had met all of the requirements it had set for his office. “Ukraine has made sufficient progress on its reform agenda to justify a third [loan] guarantee” and “the anti-corruption benchmark is deemed to have been achieved,” the State Department Interagency Policy Committee and the EU European Commission concluded, respectively.

The documents uncovered by Just the News were so explosive that The Washington Post recently revised its own fact checking on the controversy and admitted that Joe Biden called “an audible” when he withheld the $1 billion to force Shokin’s firing.

While Joe Biden’s narrative on the firing has eroded, so too has another story his defenders continue to offer. Democrats have argued since 2019 that Hunter Biden’s activities with Burisma, a company deemed corrupt by the United States, may have created the appearance of a conflict of interest but did not impact U.S. policy towards the former Soviet republic.

Underscoring the falsity of that narrative, a once-classified document obtained by Just the News shows top State Department official George Kent, the No. 2 official in the U.S. embassy in Kiev, actually told his superior that Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma had in fact undercut U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.

A question of ongoing obstruction

Since Joe Biden assumed the presidency in 2021, his administration has not fully complied with many of the requests for documents and testimony offered by Congress. Coupled with the body of evidence showing Joe Biden himself has made false statements and caused others in government to back false accounts, the question of an ongoing scheme of obstruction has emerged as another potential ground for impeachment, according to legal experts and lawmakers.

“We've been obstructed at every turn. We've been obstructed by the government agencies. We've been obstructed by Biden legal team,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer told Just the News two weeks ago.

In addition, IRS whistleblowers have provided damning testimony and evidence showing their efforts to investigate Hunter Biden for tax evasion, gun crimes and foreign lobbying were hampered. Their efforts to ask questions about Joe Biden’s potential role were repeatedly thwarted by the Biden Justice Department, including allowing the statute of limitations to expire on charges that Hunter Biden dodged taxes on money he made from Burisma in 2014.

“This investigation has been hampered and slowed by claims of potential election meddling,” IRS Supervisory Agent Gary Shapley wrote in a May 2021 memo outlining DOJ interference in the case.

The question of obstruction took a new twist late last week when the White House acknowledged that President Biden was aware that Hunter Biden would skip a required deposition and defy a House subpoena, instead giving his news conference.

“The president was certainly familiar with what his son was going to say,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Turley wrote in a column Thursday that statement could support claims that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s efforts to obstruct a required deposition.

“In addition, President Biden has enlisted White House staff to actively push challenged accounts of his conduct and attack the House Republicans’ investigative process. Such acts could legally bootstrap prior misconduct into his presidency under abuse-of-power allegations,” Turley wrote in The Messenger.

“If this latest allegation is true, the president was speaking with his son about committing a potentially criminal act of contempt,” Turley added. “Hunter was refusing to give testimony focused not on his own role but on his father’s potential role in the alleged influence peddling. The House can pursue evidence on that conversation and how the president may have supported his son’s effort.”

That conversation may expose the elder Biden to claims of violating 18 U.S.C. §1505, which outlaws any effort to impede "due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress."

Joe Biden’s home as a “crime scene”

The indictment this month charging Hunter Biden with three felonies and six misdemeanors alleged a long-running scheme by the first son to evade taxes. During some of that time, Hunter Biden was living at his father’s Wilmington, Del., home, a place that IRS investigators wanted to search for evidence but were turned down by higher ups.

In addition, Sen. Ron Johnson revealed to Just the News that six Suspicious Activity Reports were filed by banks that listed Joe Biden’s Wilmington, Del., residence as the location of transactions where suspected money laundering and human trafficking may have been facilitated.

Such evidence strengthens House Republicans’ argument that Joe Biden was aiding and abetting his son’s activities, some of which have now been charged as crimes.

"If Joe Biden didn't know what was going on in his own house, does he need to be President of the United States?" Comer asked in an interview Thursday with Just the News. "Does he need to have access to the nuclear code?"

"I've said that Joe Biden's house is a crime scene. I mean, the evidence points to that," he added.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook



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