The Intercept - October 9, 2019
"Beau Biden and Chris Heinz both recognized what was plainly before their eyes: Cashing in on the Biden family name was wrong. Now, Democratic voters are faced with the same quandary. They can see the corruption in front of their eyes, and they have to decide whether that’s the argument they want to have with Trump in 2020 — or whether they want to nominate someone else who will allow the party to make the corruption argument cleanly."
While Democrats pursue the impeachment of President Donald Trump for pressuring foreign countries to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, they are left making an argument that is at once true and electorally and ethically compromising: What Trump did — and continues to do — was an impeachable abuse of power, and it should be considered separately from the question of what Hunter Biden did.
The problem for Democrats is that a review of Hunter Biden’s career shows clearly that he, along with Joe Biden’s brother James, has been trading on their family name for decades, cashing in on the implication — and sometimes the explicit argument — that giving money to a member of Joe Biden’s family wins the favor of Joe Biden. Democrats have been loath to give any credibility to the wild rantings of Trump or his bagman Rudy Giuliani, leaving them to sidestep the question of Hunter Biden’s ethics or decision-making, and how much responsibility Joe Biden deserves. Republicans, though, have no such qualms, and have made clear that smearing the Bidens as corrupt will be central to Trump’s reelection campaign. The Trump approach is utterly without shame or irony, with attacks even coming from failson Eric Trump.
Investigative reporters and GOP operatives have dived deep into the question of whether Joe Biden ever used his official power to do favors for special interests shoveling money to his family and found no proof of this. In the case of Ukraine, it’s likely that Biden’s actions as vice president, in demanding the firing of the country’s top prosecutor, did more to hurt his son’s company than anything else. As far as the impeachment inquiry is concerned, that’s an important point: There was no illegal behavior for Trump to hang his desired corruption investigation into Joe Biden on. His entire goal was to use the power of the American empire to pressure a client state into ginning up bad press for his Democratic rival. Nobody seriously believes that Trump has any serious commitment to eradicating corruption in Ukraine, or any genuine opposition to nepotism. A member of his own family has used the power of the White House to shake down Gulf autocrats for a real-estate bailout, after all.
But that doesn’t mean the Bidens’ behavior isn’t a legitimate problem for Democrats. Indeed, Biden has been taking political hits over of the intersection of his family’s financial dealings and his own political career for some four decades. Yet he has done nothing publicly to inoculate himself from the charge that his career is corruptly enriching his family, and now that is a serious liability. By contrast, one of his opponents in the presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., went so far as to refuse to endorse his son Levi Sanders when he ran for Congress, saying that he does not believe in political dynasties. In defending the Biden’s nepotistic relationship, Democrats would be forced to argue that, to be fair, such soft corruption is common among the families of senior-level politicians. But that’s a risky general-election argument in a political moment when voters are no longer willing to accept business-as-usual. For now, Biden’s opponents in the presidential campaign appear to all hope that somebody else will make the argument, while congressional Democrats don’t want to do anything to undermine their impeachment probe. And so Biden skates. ...
Read full report at The Intercept