One of the most biting political memes these days is encapsulated in three words: But her emails! The notion that America is saddled with the most dangerously unfit president in its history because some voters were deeply concerned about Hillary Clinton’s improper use of a private email server would be funny if it wasn’t so disturbing. Now, President Donald Trump and his backers have three new words they hope will serve the same purpose: But Hunter Biden! The allegation that Joe Biden’s son leveraged his family connection for personal profit clearly has some truth to it — but it’s microscopic next to a Trump family empire that has effectively hung a “For Sale” sign on the White House.
Voters shouldn’t let themselves be duped by another byzantine red-herring, much as the presidential debates and conservative talk shows suggest otherwise.
Even if all of Trump’s deluded Ukraine allegations were true, they would still pale, scandal-wise, next to what Trump has done to monetize the White House by steering U.S. and foreign government business to his properties. The Hunter Biden saga is a sadly routine, shady story of a son using his father’s name to get ahead. That’s a story with which Trump himself should be very familiar.
Here are facts: In 2014, while then-Vice President Biden was helping implement the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy, his son Hunter got a $50,000-a-month position on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma. That’s it. The rest of the “scandal” — the allegation that Joe Biden got Ukraine’s chief prosecutor fired in order to prevent him from investigating Burisma — has been repeatedly debunked.
But that didn’t stop Trump from trying to use U.S. aid to extort Ukraine’s president into announcing an investigation so he’d have a campaign cudgel against Biden. It was that clear abuse of presidential power that prompted Trump’s impeachment this year.
Last week, the New York Post published emails — supposedly found on a computer hard drive that Hunter Biden supposedly brought in for repairs yet never retrieved — purportedly strike from an adviser of Burisma’s board to Hunter Biden. One email — the supposed smoking-gun — thanks Biden “for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”
The email was provided by Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, which should cast immediate doubt on its veracity. The Biden camp says there was no such meeting.
The New York Post story was of such dubious credibility, the lead reporter withheld his byline. Yet Trump and his supporters are treating it as scandalous, outrageous fact. That’s less an indication of wrongdoing by Biden than it is a clear signal of how desperate the Trump campaign is for something to salvage his losing campaign.