LANCASTER, Ohio — With Hunter Biden as their target, Republicans are dusting off their Benghazi investigation playbook as they prepare to assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
You may recall that, in 2014, a House select committee was created to investigate the 2012 terrorist attacks at the U.S. compound in eastern Libya where four Americans died, but found no evidence of intelligence failures; no “stand-down order” that supposedly prevented military personnel from saving the Americans trapped in the compound and no wrongdoing by Obama administration officials.
However, the true purpose of the committee was exposed by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the GOP Majority Leader, who bragged to Sean Hannity months before the 2016 election that, “everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”
That helps explain why House Republicans this year used their first news conference after clinching the 2023 House majority to discuss Hunter Biden, whose taxes and foreign business work are already under federal investigation by a grand jury in Delaware.
Although Hunter Biden never held a position on his father’s presidential campaign or in the White House, his membership on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma and his efforts to strike deals in China give Republicans an opening to investigate both Hunter and Joe Biden — even though influence-peddling didn’t seem to bother Republicans when Ivanka Trump did so.
As the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported in 2019, Russia renewed two trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s firm, which makes a range of products, including clothing and accessories, “just a month before her father was elected president.”
This was part of a pattern. In 2017, CREW found, the Ivanka Trump company “won preliminary approval for three Chinese trademarks on the same day that she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.”
In May 2018, again according to CREW, Ivanka’s business was awarded “‘registration’ approval from the Chinese government for five trademark applications,” with an additional one getting “first trial” approval. The same week, President Donald Trump had announced he would try to save jobs at ZTE, the Chinese telecommunications giant closely tied to the government.
A month later, on June 7, 2018, Ivanka’s business “got registration approval for three more Chinese trademarks,” CREW reported – on the same day her father announced he’d lift sanctions against ZTE.
Nor does the Republicans’ selective outrage extend to Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband. The New York Times reported in 2018 that, on two different occasions in 2017, Kushner met at the White House with top executives from financial firms that, independently, later agreed to loan $184 million and $325 million to two Kushner family ventures in which Kushner still owned a direct stake.
Or about the $2 billion investment in Kushner’s newly formed private equity firm from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund six months after he left the White House that The Times reported the Saudi fund’s advisers concluded was ill-advised.
With a target painted around Hunter Biden, what has happened to other GOP priorities?
As White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pointed out Nov. 18: “Congressional Republicans ran saying that they were going to fight inflation. They said they were going to make that a priority… And instead, … they get the majority, and their top priority is actually not focusing on the American families but focusing on the president’s family.”
That comes as no surprise, since Republicans never had a plan to fight inflation, but always had a plan to drive Joe Biden’s approval down. Making Hunter a boogeyman comes right from their Benghazi playbook.
Chuck Ardo, a retired political consultant in Lancaster, Ohio, previously served as press secretary to former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and as communications director for the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.
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