The latest Trump allegations caused a rush of “impeach him now” articles to crop up over the weekend, but the story is more complex than those op-eds want to acknowledge.
First, we need to go back to this May 1, 2019, story from the New York Times. Here is how it opens.
It was a foreign policy role Joseph R. Biden Jr. enthusiastically embraced during his vice presidency: browbeating Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government to clean up its act. And one of his most memorable performances came on a trip to Kiev in March 2016, when he threatened to withhold $1 billion in United States loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who had been accused of turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite. The pressure campaign worked. The prosecutor general, long a target of criticism from other Western nations and international lenders, was soon voted out by the Ukrainian Parliament. Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden’s younger son, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general.
Here is a related story on how Biden’s family cashed in on his position. ABC News has reported on the questionable coincidences of Hunter Biden trying to secure business while his dad was Vice President.
There is also this story about a Ukrainian lending money to Joe Biden’s brother.
Now, if President Trump, as chief executive officer of the United States, wanted to make sure an American politician or businessman was not engaged in corruption with foreign countries, he absolutely has that right.
He is, after all, the chief executive.
The Wall Street Journal notes that there does not appear to be a quid pro quo in the President’s conversations with the Ukrainian President.
Mr. Trump in the call didn’t mention a provision of U.S. aid to Ukraine, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid pro quo for his cooperation on any investigation.
This is important because buried in this CNN report on the subject comes this important nugget:
The whistleblower didn’t have direct knowledge of the communications, an official briefed on the matter told CNN. Instead, the whistleblower’s concerns came in part from learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work, and those details have played a role in the administration’s determination that the complaint didn’t fit the reporting requirements under the intelligence whistleblower law, the official said.
In other words, the whistle blower does not really know what happened, but those who do claim there is no quid pro quo.
We should go beyond this, however. If the President did demand Ukrainian help against Joe Biden for political reasons, that would be deeply problematic and probably would be grounds for impeachment. But there is literally no evidence that this happened and the whistle blower did not actually have any knowledge of the situation about which he complained.
At the same time, this does not let Joe Biden off the hook. For the past two years, progressives have been attacking the entire Trump family for emoluments and other assorted allegations of enriching themselves through power. They have thus far failed to prove anything and courts have thrown out the cases against the Trump family. But Biden’s family undoubtedly enriched themselves while Joe Biden was Vice President.
In fact, from the New York Times to Politico to ABC News and beyond, there appears to be direct links between Hunter Biden’s pursuit of business and his father’s portfolio and travels as Vice President.
If we presume enriching one’s self through government is wrong, the Biden family has a lot to answer for, not just the Trump family.