Republicans will continue harassing Biden, even as his son Hunter’s corruption allegations lose credibility

A witness accused of providing false testimony has punctured the accusations against the U.S. president. Despite this, Trump’s party will continue investigating him

Republicans Biden
Hunter Biden (left) and his father, US President Joe Biden, pictured in 2016 in Washington.Teresa Kroeger (Getty Images)
Miguel Jiménez

In September of 2023, when then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, ordered the opening of an investigation into the possible impeachment of President Joe Biden, he claimed that a “trusted FBI informant” had alleged that bribes were made “to the Biden family.” But last week, it was confirmed that the informant — 43-year-old Alexander Smirnov — was lying all along.

Prosecutors accuse Smirnov of having provided false testimony and of having fabricated evidence for political purposes. However, despite the fact that the allegations against the president and his family are losing credibility, the Republicans aren’t giving up. They will continue to harass the president and his son, Hunter Biden, so long as they believe it suits their interests.

The FD-1023 is a form used by the FBI to collect information from confidential sources. In the US Capitol, there has been non-stop talk for months about a specific FD-1023, a four-page form. In it, a source — now revealed to be Smirnov — told the FBI that Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, had received commissions worth $5 million in 2015 or 2016 from Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm. According to Smirnov, the money was paid out by the co-founder of the company, Mykola Zlochevsky.

The interview with that source occurred as part of an ongoing investigation into complaints filed in 2020 by Rudy Giuliani, who was acting as lawyer for Donald Trump. The Republican president wanted to undermine the prestige of his probable rival in that year’s election. However, nothing supported the credibility of those complaints. And when Giuliani found direct testimonies that contradicted them, he asked that they be buried.

Paradoxically, the Republican obsession with Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, and how his father could have benefited from them, led to Trump’s first impeachment. He was accused of applying pressure on the government of the then-unknown Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to investigate and incriminate the Bidens. Trump had threatened to withdraw aid from Ukraine if the Zelenskiy administration didn’t comply.

The FBI has attempted to clarify that collecting information from a source on a form doesn’t necessarily validate the information or establish the source’s credibility. Even so, Biden’s rivals insisted again and again on that particular FD-1023 document. In it, Smirnov also claimed to have text messages and up to 17 recordings that incriminated the Bidens —information that made the Republicans salivate.

The obsession with impeachment

A large number of representatives and senators from Trump’s party are obsessed with impeaching Biden. They haven’t forgiven the fact that Trump was impeached twice in the House during his term (although he survived impeachment in the Senate). Since the Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives more than a year ago, they have been endlessly searching for any evidence to accuse Biden of corruption. They saw the president’s weakness in his son, Hunter Biden.

Obviously, they couldn’t accuse the father for his son’s addictions, tax violations and legal problems (he is being charged in two different cases). Hence, the investigation became about trying to prove that Joe Biden benefited from Hunter’s foreign business dealings, something they had already been doing for years. The difference is that now, they have a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. Still, they have been unable to find any significant evidence against the president. On top of this, the acts being investigated occurred before Biden even occupied his current position.

Smirnov’s indictment for providing false testimony punctures the corruption accusations that have been levied against Biden, further weakening Republican arguments. “In a detailed indictment, Special Counsel David Weiss, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, has demonstrated how key evidence at the heart of House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry is based on a lie,” said Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin in a statement. “Special Counsel Weiss’s investigation is just the most recent to debunk the Ukraine-Burisma conspiracy theory at the heart of this fraudulent impeachment inquiry,” he added.

This past Friday at the White House, Biden himself said that the investigation “should be abandoned” and that “it’s been a shameful endeavor from the start.”

Republicans, however, now say that the famous form wasn’t actually that important. “We have over 30 million reasons to continue this investigation and not one of those reasons relies on the corrupt FBI or an informant. Bank records don’t lie,” Republican Congressman James Comer tweeted. The bank records he was referring to also seem like another piece of false — or at least misleading — evidence.

After numerous requests and subpoenas, the Republicans found a check for $200,000 from James Biden — Joe Biden’s brother — made out to the president. There was an outcry about this, without clarifying that the funds were identified as the repayment of a loan. The president had given a check worth the same amount to his brother just two months earlier.

These were also transactions from 2018, when Biden was neither vice president nor president. They were made transparently, without the slightest intention of hiding them and without any indication of irregularity.

Republicans also found three payments of $1,380 each — also from 2018 — made by a company owned by Hunter Biden to his father. They wanted to make it appear as if this structure was a guise for China paying bribes to the president. In reality, the amounts were three installments of the purchase of a Ford Raptor SUV. Joe Biden had purchased the car in his name as a favor to his son.

Almost every big revelation from the Republicans seems to evaporate as soon as it comes to light and is subjected to public scrutiny. The White House has dismantled all accusations. The most that investigations have been able to demonstrate is that the incumbent president — when he was Barack Obama’s vice president — attended dinners with Hunter’s associates or clients, or said hello to them on the phone.

The evidence, however, seems to matter less than the political impact. Investigating Biden is a way to counter the criminal accusations against Trump. Republicans have already given signs that they will try to maintain pressure on Biden, extend their investigations to the handling of classified documents (despite the fact that Biden has been legally exonerated) and seek arguments to request impeachment. It remains to be seen whether they’ll take that final step, but the ultimate decision won’t depend so much on the evidence as on whether the Republicans see themselves as having enough votes to get it done (some moderates could distance themselves) in the House and on what they believe the consequences will be in an election year.

The investigation continues. And, next week, one of the highlights will take place: after several scuffles, disagreements and some theatrics, Hunter Biden has been summoned to testify behind closed doors in Congress on February 28.

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