The tip-off that House Republicans’ cobbled-together opening of their “impeachment inquiry” into President Joe Biden was going to flop came last Wednesday, the day before the first hearing. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Smith, R.-Mo., whose unfortunate lot it was to hold a press conference announcing new “evidence” that Biden had used his public office to help his son Hunter, was utterly unable to explain how there was evidence of any such thing.
Asked by NBC’s Ryan Nobles how a document dated August 2017 could suggest that Biden had used public office to benefit his son when Biden held no office at the time, Smith sounded a very great deal like Jackie Gleason’s iconic Ralph Kramden character failing miserably at answering basic questions from his wife Alice. “I’m not an expert on the timeline,” Smith blathered. “I would love to have President Biden and his family to tell us all about the timelines.”
“But if he’s not the president or the vice-president at the time,” asked the perplexed reporter, “where’s the wrongdoing? He wasn’t even a candidate for president at the time.”
“Apparently you’ll never believe us,” came Smith’s brilliant reply, as he turned to another questioner.
The hearing itself proved to be just as much of a lead balloon as Smith’s hemming, hawing and stammering presaged. It was led by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., who has spent the last year predicting that, any decade now, there would be evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or, as Comer put it on Fox News, “I sure hope so.”
Notable in his Committee’s stellar investigation thus far was his triumphant announcement that they finally had a witness, only to have to admit that the witness had gone missing. It emerged that he hadn’t gone missing so much as he turned out to be an international fugitive, indicted on a series of felony charges and hiding from law enforcement. Let’s put it this way: The “investigation” into Joe Biden has not exactly yielded results.
Comer’s hearing got off to an inauspicious start and proceeded directly downhill from there.
The Republicans’ panel of “witnesses” commenced one by one to announce that, actually, they were unaware of any evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden. Jonathan Turkey, a former Justice Department tax attorney who up until now has been a reliably go-to lawyer for Trump World, got things rolling by volunteering that he saw no basis for claiming that Biden had committed any impeachable offense. “I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment,” he admitted. But exactly what “the current evidence” is of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden other than having won the 2020 election has remained rather elusive, or an extremely closely guarded secret by House Republicans who, after months of subpoenaing bank records and repeating the phrase “Biden crime family,” still cannot tell us what it is.
At this point, one would have expected the Republicans to produce evidence of something: parking in a loading zone or an overdue library book if they cannot identify a high crime or misdemeanor. But evidently, they cannot. It isn’t weak tea the House Committee was serving up. It was Kool-Aid.
Across the country in Arizona, President Biden was paying tribute to the late Sen. John McCain, a conservative Republican who, as Biden pointed out, believed with all his heart in “country first: honor, duty, decency, freedom, liberty, democracy.” Biden recalled just how completely McCain, shot down while flying a Navy jet over Vietnam, put his faith in these things. “Imprisoned five and a half years,” Biden noted. “Solitary confinement for two years. Given an opportunity to come home if he just said a couple things. He was beaten, bloodied, bones broken, isolated, tortured, unable to raise his arm above his shoulders again.”
How sad McCain would be to see his fellow congressional Republicans now, five years after his passing. How sad all the rest of us should be.